Saturday, January 14, 2017

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets (if any) are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple guidelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.


31 January 2017 -- A Breath from the Sky -- Martian Migraine Press

The full title of this book will be A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession. As long-time readers and authors involved with MMP know, our annual anthology project takes a seed story or concept from the history of Weird Fiction and allows that seed to grow in strange and interesting new ways. We encourage our authors to unshackle themselves from the standard tropes that can weigh down the imagination and move into truly authentic dimensions of fear, awe, and cosmic wonder. We want to see the Weird move with confidence into the 21st Century, and want our authors to share that commitment.

For A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession, the seed story will be H P Lovecraft’s classic "The Colour Out of Space." This is easily one of his best works, and will be included in the anthology. "Colour" presents many interesting entry points into our theme of unusual possession: the titular entity — an unknown, sentient being from beyond the stars that manifests as an unearthly, unplaceable hue — is released from a fallen meteorite and proceeds to infect and alter everything around it. The earth, plants, animals, and humans within its sphere of malign influence change and suffer. The Colour pollutes the ground water like a common toxic spill, yet also spreads like radiation. It appears to be a brute force of nature, affecting its surroundings on the molecular and genetic levels, but can also attack specific individuals with something approaching intelligence, inhabiting their minds and reducing them to shambling wrecks both physically and mentally.

A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession will offer the reader just that: tales that subvert and challenge the common ideas of what it means to be "taken over" by something that is not yourself. We do not want to see the standard Judeo-Christian "demon possession/exorcism" narrative. We want to see stories that ask "what does it mean to be conscious and aware?" Stories that speculate on the very nature of intelligence, life, and control: of our minds, our bodies, our means of perceiving and arranging the world. We want stories that explore the horror of possession, true, but also stories that focus on the ecstasy of it, the benefits (if any), and the costs and rewards of merging with something outside of oneself, whether by force or by choice.

And when we say something, we want to see a broad range of what that thing could be. Is it possible to become possessed by a song? a language? a meme? Are the possessing entities singular, or multiple? More than multiple? An entire species in one person? What would it feel like to be possessed by a machine or a man-made Artificial Intelligence — and has that already happened? Possession on the molecular level, possession by designer drugs, possession by thoughtforms other than demons, possession by other people. Possession by ourselves? Are you even sure that “you” are you? With Lovecraft’s "Colour" as the seed, we of course expect to see Lovecraftian and Cthulhu Mythos stories, but please, move beyond the easy targets (tentacles bursting out all over) and give us stories that are truly Other in scope: we want to see effects that defy the body, logic, and the laws of physics! For inspiration beyond Lovecraft, we suggest reading Murakami, Borges, William S. Burroughs, and the like. Surprise and delight us, make us question our sanity and loosen our hold on concensus reality.

Final story count for the anthology will be determined based on quality and number of submissions. A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Tales of Possession will be released as a softcover paperback and as an electronic book in multiple formats.

Submission period closes JANUARY 31, 2017. The anthology will be released in early August of 2017, with a possible launch party at NecronomiCon Providence later that month.


Please use Standard Manuscript format when submitting. That’s double spaced, left justified, Times New Roman or Courier or something at least readable, a header on the first page (at least) with your author info and word count and… well, you know the drill. RTF or DOC files preferred, but DOCx and text files also accepted. Obviously, you could send us something that’s not in Standard Manuscript format, but it will lower your chances of it being looked at seriously.

We will look at both original work and REPRINTS.

To submit a story to A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession send an e-mail (with the story file attached, not in the body of the email) to:, with subject line: BREATH, title of your story, and your name.

Length and Genre

For short fiction, we’d like to see anything from 1,500 to 7,000 words.

FLASH FICTION: got something under 1500 words? Send it in. However, the following still applies…



All accepted submissions will be paid .03CAD per word, via Paypal, as well as two contributor copies (paperback) of the anthology, and copies in all electronic formats (mobi, EPUB, and PDF). Authors are also entitled to electronic copies of three additional Martian Migraine Press titles of their choosing.

Replies and Queries

We will try to acknowledge receipt of your submission within a week of its arrival in our inbox. The submission period itself will close on January 31, 2017 and we should be responding to all submissions, yes or no, throughout the submission period and no later than February 2017. We do our best to ensure that all submissions are contacted and kept up-to-date, but sometimes items fall through cracks, so, if you haven’t heard from us by March 15 2017, please query.


31 January 2017 -- 2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide -- ed. Corie and Sean Weaver; Dreaming Robot Press

We’re looking for stories that:
== Have a main character that a middle grade reader (ages 8-12) can identify with;
== Show a diverse set of real characters;
== Are well written, fun to read and encourage a love of reading science fiction;
== Tell of adventure, space, science. Give us rockets, robots and alien encounters, and we’re pretty happy. Steampunk, time travel, weird west and alternate history are all fine.
== To be super clear – we’re looking science fiction, in all it’s variants. While we love fantasy as well, please don’t submit fantasy stories for this anthology.
== Are between 3,000 and 6,000 words.

We’re especially looking for stories:
== Of adventure! We love a good dystopia as much as the next robot, but remember – this is the young explorer’s adventure guide.
== Where the main character is of a population that has traditionally been under-represented in science fiction, e.g. girls, people of color, differently abled people;
== Where the main character has agency, exercises it, and isn’t just along for the ride.

We are strong supporters of both the #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices movements.

We’re not interested in:
== Stories where the female characters primarily exist to be rescued or as a prize for the males;
== Stories where the primary plot or subplot is romantic in nature;
== Stories with graphic violence or any form of sexual activity;
== Stories with any violence towards animals;
== Stories about the first girl to do X, surprising everyone;
== Stories that depict any ethnicity or gender as universally bad or stupid.

Please note: although we’re aware kids have a wide and varied vocabulary, we’d prefer not to have swearing in the stories. If your story has swearing, please rephrase before submitting.

Submission deadline, mechanics and planned schedule
== Anthology will be open for submissions from September 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017, with a reading period of February and March 2017.
== While we prefer original stories, if you have something perfect that had a limited run elsewhere, query us and we’ll talk;
== Acceptance notices will be sent by May 31, 2017;
== In August we will launch a crowd-funding campaign to help with pre-publication costs. Regardless of results of crowd-funding campaign, we are committed to publishing the anthology. We’ve successfully funded the previous two anthologies this way, chances are favorable.

Rights and Payments
== Authors will be provided with a complete Anthology Contract for review and consideration with the notice of accepted submissions.
== In keeping with SWFA’s guidelines, we pay $0.06/word on final edited word count for one-year exclusive worldwide English rights and nonexclusive right to republish, print, or reprint the complete anthology in any language or format after the first year, print and electronic, and two contributor copies. Payment upon final edit.
== If the crowd-funding fails, please note that we are still committed to this anthology, and will find other ways to fund the project. However, there may be delays. If authors feel the need to withdraw their submission due to delays, we understand.
== We will provide professional editing, primarily for issues of grammar and spelling.
== If authors have other questions about rights or payments, please contact us before submission. We want to make sure all concerns are addressed.


31 January 2017 -- C.H.U.D Tribute Anthology -- ed. Eric S. Brown; Crystal Lake Publishing

Submissions open December 1st and close January 31st.

Story length: between 3,000 and 10,000 words.

Pay is 3 cents (US) a word paid within a week of publication via PayPal.

Only one submission per author, even after a rejection has been sent out.

I want the language toned down. No taking the Lord’s name in vain. One of the reasons being that we're challenging authors to create unique characters. Remember Annie Wilkes?

If you have sex in your stories, keep it off-screen or mild. Gore and violence? Well, go wild, but remember the strengths of C.H.U.D. as a film are its character development and suspense.

Stories may be set before the movie, leading up to it, but they cannot do anything that would change or alter the events of the movie. Stories may even be set after the movie. Think C.H.U.D. running loose in the streets.

Any questions, please run them by me (

I want this book to really honor the film and pay respect to it.

You can submit your stories to ( Be sure to place the word SUBMISSION in the subject line of the email. Manuscripts should be attached to the email, and be formatted in standard manuscript format. Any stories NOT adhering to the standard manuscript format will be rejected. Here is a great link to standard manuscript format: We will accept only two file formats: .DOC—Microsoft Word—and .RTF. You should also include a short bio.


31 January 2017 -- Ride the Star Wind -- Broken Eye Books

Our next release is Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird, presenting tales that combine space opera with cosmic weird horror, either set within the Cthulhu Mythos or inspired by it. It is now open to submissions.

Send us into space, away from earth, and bring the weird! Give us adventure and wonder, spaceships and monsters, tentacles and insanity, determined struggle and starborne terror. Whether sprawling in scope or tightly focused and personal, make sure to give us a taste of the greater universe of your story, such as the culture and politics. Make us long to know more of your universe.

We want diverse stories with modern sensibilities from many different voices that show the immense and diverging possibilities ahead for weird horror. We want to forge ahead and explore the new and the strange. We are actively seeking submissions from writers from underrepresented populations. (This includes, but is not limited to, writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability.)

== We want stories that mesh space opera with cosmic weird horror.
== For the elements of space opera, modern touchstones include James SA Corey (Expanse series), Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch series), Iain Banks (Culture series), Nnedi Okorafor (Binti), David Brin (Uplift trilogy), and Becky Chambers (Wayfarers series). For mixing elements of space opera and cosmic weird horror, the short story "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette is a great touchstone. The technology level for submissions can fall anywhere in the soft- to hard-science range.
== Stories should also be set within or be inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos. We want to see the Mythos continue to grow and evolve, to expand as a shared literary world and not be tied to outdated and limiting sensibilities. We are not interested in stories with bigoted, unbalanced views on race and gender.
== Subversive or experimental stories are welcome.
== No pastiches of previous eras for either the space opera elements or the weird horror elements.
== Original, previously unpublished short stories (3,000-6,000 words) and flash fiction (1,000 words or less).
== Pay rate of 8 c/w for first rights to digital, audio, and print formats in English.
== Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please, let us know as soon as possible if your submission has become unavailable before you hear back from us.
== Only one submission per author.
== We seek both rich characters and grandiose ideas. We seek diverse characters.

Submit your story in standard manuscript format as an attachment to submissions(at)brokeneyebooks(dot)com with a subject line of the following: [RTSW] "Your Story Title".

Submission window open from October 31, 2016 to January 31, 2017. The published anthology will be a mix of stories both from invited authors and from slush pile submissions. Don’t self-reject. If in doubt, submit.


1 February 2017 -- Tales From The Lake: Volume 4 -- ed. Ben Eads; Crystal Lake Publishing

What we are looking for:

== Non-themed short horror stories that arrests readers and leave them haunted for months to come. Stories must be original. Stories must be original. Only one submission per author, even after a rejection has been sent out. We are not accepting reprints.

Since horror is the only genre of fiction defined by an emotion, your story must have the following:

== Believable, three-dimensional characters just as real as your friends and neighbors. A real world—hitting all the senses—these characters inhabit.
== Originality is just as important—we don’t want your version of someone else’s story from yesteryear.
== Although our arms are wide open, we’re more interested in fiction that reflects the modern. Joe Hill, and Mercedes M. Yardley are prime examples of current dark fiction writers encapsulating the above in their work.
== Quality of the work must be top notch! The following authors have appeared in previous Tales from The Lake anthologies: Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Rena Mason, Graham Masterton, Lisa Morton, Tim Lebbon, and Tim Waggoner. That’s the high-water mark you must strive for.
== If you want to write a story about vampires, werewolves or ghosts, then your story needs to evolve that trope. You must have a unique premise. I cannot stress that enough.
== If you wish to submit an “extreme horror” or “splatterpunk” story, that’s fine with us. However, you’ll have to make sure that your emotional foundations are solid, and your characters actually have an arch. We will not accept stories that just go for the gore and offer nothing more.

What we are not looking for:

== Stories that are not short horror stories.
== Novels or novellas.
== Stories bereft of characters that readers can believe in and root for. The only exception to this rule would be the “terror tale,” which is best kept as short as possible. Think a thousand words or less.
== Stories with flat worlds.
== Trunk stories.
== Stories about serial killers. It’s too cliché, and our readers demand more than a trend that has been beaten to death.
== Speaking of trends, if you wish to write a “zombie story,” then it must be one of the most unique zombie stories ever written. This is possible, and we look forward to it.
== To avoid too many writers writing about lakes, please keep in mind this is a non-themed anthology.
== Any explicit abuse toward children or animals is expressly forbidden. So is any sexual abuse. This can be mentioned or remembered by your main character, but be subtle.

Submissions open November 1st, 2016, and end February 1st, 2017. Please email your submission to: Be sure to place the word SUBMISSION in the subject line of the email. We will accept simultaneous submissions. We will NOT accept multiple submissions.

Manuscripts should be attached to the email, and be formatted in standard manuscript format. Any stories NOT adhering to the standard manuscript format will be rejected. Here is a great link to standard manuscript format: We will accept only two file formats: .DOC—Microsoft Word—and .RTF. You should also include a short bio.

Stories should be no longer than 7,000 words. However, we prefer stories that are at or around 4,000 words. Payment is $0.03 USD a word via PayPal.


14 February 2017 -- 49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures -- ed. Hayden Trenholm; Bundoran Press

49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures
We will open for submissions to a new science fiction short story anthology on December 15th, 2016 (Close – February 14, 2017 at 11:59p.m EST)

Please do not submit prior to the opening date – stories will be deleted without reading.

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, Bundoran Press Publishing House will publish an anthology of short science fiction, entitled 49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures. Stories will be sought from across Canada and around the world exploring what might have been – or what might yet be. The anthology will be edited by two-time Aurora winning editor, Hayden Trenholm. Publication is planned for October 2017.

As always, 49th Parallels only seeks science fiction (no supernatural creatures or events of any kind) but for this anthology, it might include steam or diesel punk. Stories must be set in Canada or involve Canada and Canadians as the principal subject operating in the larger world (or beyond). Stories may be historical (back to 1867) or futuristic, but whatever creates the alternative past or possible future must take place prior to 2017. The causal factor may be scientific, technological or as a result of major political or social change. We look forward to seeing how both Canadian and non-Canadian writers explore this question.

We are seeking original English language stories (first world rights - print and digital) between 1500 and 7000 words. Reprints will ONLY be considered for English translations of stories originally published in FRENCH. A limited number of short poems (less than 100 lines) may be accepted.We are particularly interested in indigenous and multi-cultural voices. Payment rates will be five cents (Canadian) per word for original short stories and poems (minimum $10 per poem). Reprints will be paid a flat rate of $100. Payment on publication.

Please submit in .rtf, .doc or .docx format. In the title line of e-mail put: SUBMISSION 49th:"Title of your story." Include a brief cover letter in the body of your e-mail giving us the title and word length of your story and any writing credits you wish to share with us. Do not summarize your story.

Email your attached document to:


28 February 2017 -- Triangulation: Appetites -- Parsec Ink

Triangulation is open for submissions This year’s theme: "Appetites." We are Parsec Ink’s Speculative fiction annual, now in our thirteenth year. We’re looking for outstanding speculative fiction from new and established writers. Take the theme and run with it. Tell us a story we won’t forget.

Theme: Appetites

Word Count: We will consider fiction up to 6,000 words. (Our sweet spot is 3,000) There is no minimum word count.

Genre: We accept science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and intelligent blends of the three. Do not send stories without a speculative element.

Compensation: Pay is semi-pro, 2 cents a word. Authors will receive an e-book and print version of the anthology and wholesale pricing for additional print copies (typically 50% of cover price).

Rights: We purchase North American Serial Rights, and Electronic Rights for downloadable version(s). All subsidiary rights released upon publication.

Submissions: We are a meritocracy. New authors are as welcome as those with a laundry list of accomplishments. It’s the story that will win us over. Pull us in with the first line and keep us entertained until that last paragraph ends things perfectly.

Yes, "Appetites" is our theme but try to go beyond the dinner table. Give us your longing for wonder. Lust for power. Thirst for vengeance. What do your protagonists hunger for? What hungers for them? One more thing: We all know that Soylent Green is people (spoiler!). So if your story hinges on cannibalism it better be the best-damned cannibal story we’ve ever read.

We do not accept reprints, multiple submissions, or simultaneous submissions. If we reject a story before the end of the reading period, feel free to send another.

We love creative interpretations of our themes, but we do require that stories fit the current theme.

We will run mature content if we like the story and find the mature content integral to it.

We will not accept fanfic, even if it’s based in a fictional universe that has passed into public domain.

How To Submit: Electronic submissions make our lives easier. Please upload your story via Submittable. If this is your first time using Submittable, you will need to create an account with them. Don’t worry It’s free.

Manuscript Format: Please useindustry standard manuscript format. We’re not testing you to see if you can adhere to every niggling requirement, but we do want a manuscript that is easy for us to read.

We accept manuscripts in the following formats:
== .doc or .docx (MS Word)
== .rtf (Rich Text Format — generic document format that most word processors can create)

Editorial Process: We will aim to read submissions as they are received. If a story doesn’t work for us, we’ll reject it. If we think the story has great potential but isn’t quite there yet, we request a rewrite. The ones we love the most we’ll hold onto for further consideration (you’ll get an email). These stories will fight it out amongst themselves until we have our final lineup. At which time the final acceptances will be sent out. Sort of like Enter the Dragon, but for short stories. After a story is accepted, the only changes that we will make will typically be very minor and or cosmetic.

Response: Final decisions will be made by March 31st.

Eligibility: All writers, including those who are known or even related to the editorial staff, are permitted to submit to the Triangulation anthology. That doesn’t mean they’ll automatically get published, but we will consider their work.


31 March 2017 -- This Side of the Divide -- Baobab Press

Baobab Press and the University of Nevada, Reno MFA Program in Creative Writing are partnering to publish This Side of the Divide, an anthology of short fiction by emerging and established authors exploring the United States West.

This exciting project will speak to the West’s newness, vastness, sense of territoriality and transience, spanning from untouched wilderness to hyper-urban settings. We’re seeking fresh, original views of the western U.S. Our aim is to capture this region’s unique essence in all of its cultural and geographic diversity.

All submissions will be reviewed, and accepted works will be edited by a committee of readers from Baobab Press and the UNR MFA Program in Creative Writing. Selected writers will receive a complimentary copy of the book and a payment of $100. Submitted stories should be around 3,000 to 5,000 words, and will need to be submitted for review no later than March 31st, 2017. Please send your story and a brief cover letter to


31 March 2017 -- A Fool for You -- Less Than Three Press

A Fool for You — LGBTQIA — Clowns. Pick pockets. Magicians. Jesters. Witches. Demons. Even gods. Tales of Tricksters abound in every culture, sometimes as fools, sometimes as sly schemers too smart for anyone’s good. They are often known as shape shifters and gender fluid—and they are always up to something. Sometimes for good, sometimes for evil, sometimes simply to see what happens…

Less Than Three Press invites you to submit stories of tricksters and all the mischief they can manage—and what happens when they meet their match.

== Put SUBMISSIONS: A FOOL FOR YOU in the subject line.
== Stories should be at least 10,000 words and should not exceed approx 20,000 words in length.
== Stories must revolve around the theme of tricksters.
== Stories must have a happily ever after (HEA) or happy for now (HFN) end.
== Any sub-genre is gladly accepted: sci-fi, mystery, contemporary, steampunk, etc.
== All usual LT3 submission guidelines apply.

A Fool For You is a general release anthology, which means authors will receive a flat payment of $200.00 once LT3 has a signed contract. Authors will receive one copy each of the ebook formats LT3 produces and two copies of the paperback compilation.
Stories should be complete before submitting, and as edited as possible — do not submit a first draft. They can be submitted in any format (doc, docx, rtf, odt, etc) preferably single spaced in an easy to read font (Times, Calibri, Arial) with no special formatting (no elaborate section separation, special fonts, etc). Additional formatting guidelines can be found here.

Questions should be directed to the Editor in Chief, Samantha M. Derr, at (or you can ping her on twitter @rykaine). Submissions should be sent to


1 April 2017 -- Would But Time Await -- ed. S.J. Bagley; Orford Parish Books

[NOTE: The guidelines say "until April," without giving an actual date. I'm listing this as 1 April, but be aware this is a guess on my part. Also, note that these folks want a query first and won't read manuscripts unless they get a query ahead of time. So query first, and while you're asking, find out when they actually want the story by.]

In 2017, Orford Parish Books will be releasing WOULD BUT TIME AWAIT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF NEW ENGLAND FOLK HORROR (edited by s.j. bagley, editor [and interrogator] of THINKING HORROR: A JOURNAL OF HORROR PHILOSOPHY.)

Please read and the guidelines before submitting a query and direct all queries to with the subject header ‘FOLK HORROR QUERY.’

(All stories sent without a prior query will be deleted, unread.) [Bolding mine.]


For the purposes of this project, we are defining folk horror as horror literature in which the present (which can be a year/decade of the author’s choosing) collides with the history, folklore, traditions, and psychogeography of a region and where that collision has a significant impact on the present (as defined in the work.)

We are looking for work that uses the physical, historical, and social landscapes of New England as a focal point (rather than a story that could be set anywhere else but just happens to be set in New England.)

There is a long and rich history of horrific and strange folklore in New England but that doesn’t mean a writer needs to restrict themselves to it and writers are perfectly welcome to invent their own folklore, traditions, and fictional New England locations.
We should also stress that, while Folk Horror has largely been a rural construct, we by no means consider a rural location to be necessary to any working definition of the term.
A few examples of what we consider Folk Horror in literature:

[Click through for an extensive list of examples.]


We are open to submissions from writers from every global region and every walk of life and, while each story needs to focus (in some manner) on the geographic region of New England (which consists of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) we certainly don’t require that every author needs to be from that region.

We expect and encourage diversity in regard to the voices involved in this project.


Submissions will be open until April 2017, at which point we will no longer be accepting submissions or queries.

Publication date is summer 2017 (with a more firm date to come.)


We will be paying a flat rate of $75USD upon acceptance for first rights in print and digital.


Length: 2,000-10,000 words.

Each story MUST either be set in New England or contain elements of New England folklore and history.

Each story MUST be folk horror (which we fully and happily acknowledge as being a broad and diverse term but we are defining as stated above.)

No reprints.

No simultaneous submissions.


New England is an ethnically diverse region of the United States with a long (and often sordid) history so please keep the contemporary effects of that history in mind when submitting and avoid work that portrays the indigenous people and tribes of New England in a racist, bigoted, or stereotypical sense and please avoid stereotypes of the poor, and economically disenfranchised, all races, genders, sexes, sexualities, (dis)abilities, faiths, and anything that targets marginalized people.

In general, we are looking to avoid depictions of sexual violence (unless written with extreme care, an actual point beyond the simple violence of it, and, above all, empathy toward victims of sexual violence.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Year Later

On 1 January 2016 -- 1 January being National Start A New Diet and Exercise Program Day here in the US -- I started a new diet and exercise program.

A few months earlier, my arthritis got a lot worse. For years I've had problems with my knees, especially on the right side, but by October of 2015, it had spread to my hands -- again, especially the right, the one I use most. That's scary. It's bad enough to have a hard time walking (I'd been using a cane for almost ten years) but if it got to the point where I couldn't use my hands anymore, I'd probably start thinking about stepping out in front of a bus or something. And I'm not sure I'm kidding. :/

I went to my doctor, and rather than up my pain meds, she suggested I try an anti-inflammatory diet by a woman named Kathy Abascal; it'd been getting some good results among her colleagues. It's not a gimmicky, Hollywood-Champagne-and-Kumquat type diet, recommended by your brother's wife's hairdresser. This is a ridiculously healthy diet, endorsed by the Chief of Medicine at our local hospital, that my doctor urged me to try. As she said during that visit, after describing how it worked, "This is really how we should all be eating," -- so I decided to do it.

If you've ever hung out with anyone in the fitness or lifting community, you might've heard the term "eating clean." This diet is pretty much the ultimate in eating clean. It eliminates all processed foods, all additives, all added sweetners (among other things) and has you eating mostly fruits and veggies, with just a little meat/grain/beans/etc. I'll describe it more fully below, for anyone interested.

So I got Ms. Abascal's book, read it, went "Holy crap, this is restrictive!!" and faced the coming New Year. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to stick with the diet for very long, but my stiff and aching hands urged me to give it a really good shot.

At the same time, Jim and I got each other fitness bands for Christmas. We both could use some more exercise, although I was pretty sure I was doing a decent amount of walking. Not 10K steps a day, but I figured I was probably doing about half that. I used a pedometer for a while, but my last one had broken a few years earlier. I'd heard good things about fitness bands (I have a Garmin Vivofit) so we went that direction.

On 1 January of last year, I ignored the fitness band and just did my usual amount of walking. Umm, wow. I was just a bit over 1000 steps by the end of the day. O_O Yeah, definitely could use some work there. I started getting up to walk during the day, just back and forth at home, rather than going out. I can't walk very far at any one time because of my joint problems, and sometimes something will go "Sproing!" and I'll have a sudden need to sit down, right now. So walking at home felt like my best option. And it actually works very well. If you think, "Hey, 10K steps is like five miles! I can't walk that far!" then walking in shorter chunks is a great way of building up steps. Even miles. Getting up every hour or so and doing even just a few hundred steps adds up by the end of the day. I still can't walk five miles all at once, but after a year of working on it, getting my 10K steps in on any given day -- assuming my knees or feet aren't griping that day -- is now more a matter of time management than physical ability or disability.

Through January, though, I was still working on hitting 3-4K steps per day, and feeling like that was a pretty good triumph when I managed it.

Back to the diet. Since I started this diet hoping it'd help tone down my aching joints, rather than for weight loss, I didn't actually weigh myself on 1 January 2016. Ms. Abascal's book makes it clear that this isn't primarily a weight loss diet. She says that if you need to lose weight, you probably will, and if you need to gain weight, you probably will. That's not the main goal, though. So when I started this, I figured I might lose some weight, but if I did I'd consider it a great bonus; I didn't count on or plan for it, not wanting to be disappointed. I was mainly focused on my joints.

When I saw my doctor in mid-October of '15, my weight was 323. Knowing that I had a ridiculously restrictive diet coming up, I completely pigged out over the holidays. We spent a week at my mom's house around Christmas, and I seriously ate a plate of Christmas cookies for breakfast every day. [hides under keyboard] I felt like a bear getting ready for a long, lean winter. I kept going right up through New Year's Eve, then locked myself into Food Prison on the first.

By mid-January, I thought, Hey, maybe I've lost some weight. So I hopped on the scale and... 316.

Holy crap, 316! That's seven pounds less than I weighed before going crazy over the holidays!

Suddenly I wished I'd gotten on that scale on the first. I'd kill to know exactly how much I weighed then, because in just those two weeks I'd obviously dropped an insane amount of weight. I decided to pick something conservative and measure from there, just to have a number to look at, so I added ten pounds to my October weight, and assumed I weighed 333 at the beginning of the year. I've gained ten pounds before in a week of pigging out, much less six weeks -- I was probably at least 350 -- but I didn't want to overshoot and claim more of a loss than I actually had, so 333 is my official starting weight.

By the end of January I'd lost 32 pounds.

I started keeping much closer track after mid-month, and for the last week or so I was "only" losing about half a pound a day. Which means for that first week or so, I must've been losing more like two pounds per day. (And it was probably even more than that, but again, I'm assuming a start of 333.)

I checked with my doctor and she assured me that a huge weight loss is normal when you make a major change, especially with diet and exercise both. There was nothing to worry about unless it continued that fast. I was thinking I'd be okay with it continuing that fast for a while -- if I could get down to my goal, which is 180 (I'm 5'11" and naturally muscular), then we could fix whatever other problems rapid weight loss might've caused. [wry smile] But I did keep slowing down, drat. :)

By mid-February, I was down about 40 pounds, and looking at going to the Anthology Workshop in Oregon. Since I'd be eating three meals a day at restaurants, which aren't friendly to this diet -- even vegetarian meals tend to have way too much pasta/rice/beans bulking them out -- I figured I'd just bag the diet for the ten days or so I'd be gone, knowing that I'd regain some weight, but that I'd go back to dieting and losing when I got home. Ms. Abascal says that once you're firmly into the diet, you can have one or two cheat days a month, where you eat whatever you want, to satisfy cravings and such; I'd just have one big long cheat week-and-a-bit. But my stomach is kind of touchy (I have gastroparesis, which means my stomach doesn't empty as fast as yours, and sometimes it decides to run backwards for a while) so I figured I should find out how my stomach would react to going back to a normal processed/chemical-laden/protein-high diet while I was still in Seattle, 20 minutes from my local hospital and its long chart on me and my needs, rather than out on the Oregon coast, in a hotel that's not staffed after like seven or eight in the evening, in a town with only one taxi and a local ER I've never been to. So I picked a weekend and went back to eating normally, just to see what'd happen.

I'll admit I'd been dying for bread. I thought I'd miss sweets first, but actually, I don't eat many sweets on an everyday (i.e., non-Christmas [cough]) basis. And on this diet I eat a LOT of fruit. Once you've stopped eating foods with added sweeteners, it's like leaving a loud rock concert and slowly recovering your hearing -- after a little while without added sugar, your tastebuds sort of come out of hiding, and fruit tastes really sweet. What I miss most is breadish things -- sandwiches, bagels, big hunks of bread. I miss pasta too, although chewy bread is really my main craving here. Also cheese. And bacon. Mmm, bacon. But mostly bread. So I dove into bagel sandwiches, and mac-n-cheese, and we had pizza that night. My stomach was okay with it, yay.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like someone had dropped a piano on my head.

It's funny, before this test, I hadn't thought the diet was doing much for my arthritis. Which was the whole point of trying it. By mid-February, the weight loss was enough of a reason to keep going, but I was sort of disappointed that my hands still got stiff a lot. But after just one day of eating normal again, I was reminded of what stiff-and-aching really felt like. Oh, yeah, it could be a lot worse. I was also tired, even after a full night's sleep, and dragged around all day with no energy. These are all symptoms of inflammation.

I kept eating normal for that second day, and had actually planned to go for three or four days to see what would happen, but by the end of the second day I gave up. I felt so horrible, I had to go back on the diet.

It's funny, all that stuff we think is just age -- getting tired easily, lack of energy, minor aches and pains? Funny how much of that is inflammation caused by diet. I'd forgotten what it was like to actually have some energy. I thought it was just because I was fat and middle-aged. And I'm sure those were/are major contributors. But there's the food component too, and that's controllable.

I went to my workshop, and did my best to stay on the diet. I stocked up at the grocery store and had like 20 pounds of fruit in my room. I ate fruit for breakfast, plus a scrambled egg the hotel kitchen made for me every day, for protein. Then for lunch and dinner I went to restaurants but tried my best to stick to my diet. It didn't actually work very well; as I said above, even vegetarian entrees aren't really designed for this fruit/veggie heavy diet. I ate a lot of stripped down chicken caesars -- a chicken caesar salad with no bacon, no cheese, no dressing, no croutons. It's basically a pile of Romaine lettuce with a few strips of chicken. Technically within the bounds of my diet, but not at all within the spirit. The point is to be eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies, for the fiber and micronutrients. A big pile of lettuce doesn't really fill that bill. :/ I did my best, but ended up eating some white rice, and noodles, and whatever, here and there.

After the last day of the workshop, we all went out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I figured, "Screw this," and decided to eat whatever I wanted. The next day would just be the writers' lunch, then the drive back to Portland; if I was achey and had no energy, I could nap in the car, no big deal. And it turns out I felt fine the next day. So apparently I could have a cheat meal, but not a whole cheat day. Okay, I made note of that and kept going.

Home, and back to the diet. I actually plateaued for a while at -40 pounds, doing the gain-a-bit-lose-a-bit thing for weeks. I tried upping my walking to 10K steps a day (I'd been around 6-7K at that point) and it worked for a while, but after about a week of that, my knees and feet started griping at me, hard. Okay, can't do that yet. I backed down to 6-7K steps per day, but added intensity with 5lb hand weights. I can't walk with the weights for very long, but one or two short walking sessions per day with the weights adds enough intensity that I eventually started losing again. A few months later, I plateaued again at -70. More walking, more weights, I kept hovering around -70. I just stuck it out, and eventually I started losing again, slowly. But by then I was facing the holidays again.

What to do this time? I'd delayed starting my diet because I knew doing a new diet over the holidays would be kind of stupid, and a set-up for failure. What to do this time?

It was mid-October and I was down to -80, about 253lbs. I felt a lot better -- going up and down the stairs at home wasn't the huge, daunting chore it'd been before, and I can walk a lot farther all at once, and faster, than before. I was feeling great and looking forward to continuing my progress. But still, the holidays. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas... pretty much all of December. Could I stick to it?

I decided that, again, trying to stick to the diet through the holidays would just set myself up for failure. At this point, the diet felt normal, as did the walking. It wasn't a "special" diet anymore, it was just the way I normally ate. I was confident that I could let myself eat holiday good stuff here and there, and still get completely back to my diet afterward with no problems. I didn't spend 2.5 solid months pigging out :) but I let myself eat good stuff when it was around, when I felt like it. I ate some Halloween candy, then back on the diet till Thanksgiving. I had bread and stuffing and gravy with Thanksgiving dinner, then after for as long as the leftovers lasted, then went back on the diet. December I pretty much let myself eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And yeah, I ate cookies for breakfast at Mom's again. But I also ate lots of fruit and veggies, and kept doing a lot of walking.

When I decided to ease up for the holidays, back in mid-October, I was down about 80 pounds from my official start weight. I figured if I regained 10-15lbs by 1 January, that'd be cool. Even 20lbs would be... not completely sucky. I knew whatever I gained, I could lose again, and then keep progressing in the new year.

So I've been "stocking up" again, watching 1 January approach. Jim and I got pizza the evening of the 30th, figuring it'd last me a couple of days. And I drank a few mugs of hot chocolate. And I ate a lot of fruit, and walked a lot. This morning I got on the scale.

I'd gained about 11 pounds. Woot!

So I'm back on my diet, and I'll get back down to -80 soon, and keep going. I'm hoping to hit -100 by the time we go to BayCon in May -- we skipped it last year because I got sick, so there are friends there who won't have seen me in two years. That should be fun. :) But even being eleven pounds up, I feel so much better than I did this time last year, I can't even describe it. When I'm on the diet, I have energy. I can move. I can walk for more than a few minutes at a time, and I haven't used my cane since April. With the arthritis, standing in one place is actually harder than walking; I couldn't stand for more than about five minutes before my joints started to ache. Hanging out with friends at conventions and workshops, which often means standing around talking, was really hard; I usually had to go find a seat somewhere while everyone else was still chatting. Which sucked. I was at a workshop in October and actually stood for over an hour one evening. I hurt, but just being physically able to stand for that length of time, even if it hurts, is pretty amazing.

And since you don't have to count anything on this diet -- no counting calories, cups, grams, nothing -- it's easy to follow. No math to do, nothing to add or track. And so long as you eat proportionally, and avoid the things you're just not supposed to have, you can eat as much as you want. I'm never hungry, and that's a huge part of why this works for me. The occasional cheat meal -- once or twice a month, during most of the year -- gives me something to look forward to, and makes it easier to do without things like bread and cheese and bacon. My favorite cheat meal, when Jim and I go out, is a bacon-cheeseburger; except for an occasional lettuce leaf, there is literally nothing in that sandwich that I'm usually allowed to have, so it's a great cheat. :D

I haven't blogged about this before because 1) I wasn't sure what the results would be when I first started, and 2) most people don't want to hear about other people's diets. :) But I've had some pretty awesome results, and figured posting once after a year wasn't too bad. Maybe I'll post again a year from now and do an update.

I hope everyone else is having a great New Year. :D


Kathy Abascal's book -- The Abascal Way To Quiet Inflammation is available on Amazon. To summarize:

No chemical additives of any kind.
No processed foods of any kind.
No added sweeteners of any kind -- sugar, honey, molasses, Sweet-n-Low, Splenda, Truvia, nothing whether real or plastic.
No dairy of any kind.
No wheat or any derivatives -- also no oats or barley because they're related to wheat.
No dried corn or any derivatives, including corn oil.
No beef.
No pork.
No farmed fish -- only wild-caught, with a couple of exceptions for things like mussels, which are farmed in a way that results in their having their full nutritional value.
No peanuts, peanut oil, etc.
No canola oil.
No white rice, although brown and wild rice are fine. (White rice is processed.)
No dried fruit -- concentrated calories.
No fruit juice -- concentrated calories.

That leaves:

Eat Proportionally: (I'll explain what that means down below.)

Chicken and eggs -- preferred organic free-range, but if you can only afford regular then fine.
Turkey -- again, organic free-range preferred.
Fish and shellfish -- preferred wild-caught.
Lamb -- grass-fed.

It really does make a difference in the meat (or eggs) what an animal eats, BTW. With salmon, for example, wild-caught salmon has much darker orange flesh than farmed salmon. And eggs from true free-range (pastured) chickens have much darker orange yolks than eggs from factory-farmed chickens. The nutritional stats are very different between the two kinds of animal products.

Nuts and Seeds -- pretty much anything but peanuts.
Legumes -- beans that aren't green beans (eaten in the pod), plus lentils, whole quinoa, and soy products.
Whole Grains -- brown, black, red and wild rice, millet, amaranth, and white potatoes count as a grain.
Oils -- pretty much any plant-based oil that isn't peanut or canola oil.

Eat Freely:

Lots of fruits and veggies:

More veggie-ish veggies you can eat as much as you want -- spinach and lettuce and other leafy stuff, radishes, squash, cucumbers, celery, mushrooms, sprouts, broccoli, green beans, chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, etc.

High-glycemic veggies: carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, peas, pumpkins, beets -- you can have as much of these as you want, but always eat them with some "regular" veggies and/or fruits.

Fruit -- whatever you want.

Chicken broth -- remember, no chemical additives, and no added sweeteners. Most chicken broth from the grocery store has sugar in it :P so I just make my own.
Pomegranate molasses
Chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs -- unsweetened
Chutney -- unsweetened
Soy Sauce -- wheat-free
Salt and Pepper and other herbs and seasonings

Now, putting it all together:

Whenever you eat something, a meal or a snack or whatever, you want at least 2/3 of what you eat (by volume, just eyeball it) to be from the "Eat Freely" list, mostly fruits/veggies. The other 1/3 can be whatever you want from the "Eat Proportionally" list. So for breakfast pretty much every morning, I have a hard boiled egg (for protein) and a huge plate of fruit. The egg is a lot less than 1/3 of what I'm eating -- the 1/3 is a maximum. I eat a lot of chicken, so I might have a bowl of veggies with some chicken for dinner, or a bowl of root veggie mash (sweet potatoes, carrots, sometimes turnips or parsnips), with added chopped spinach, plus chicken or cooked pinto beans or brown rice or lentils. If I'm still hungry after dinner, or just want a snack, I'll usually grab some fruit. I eat LOTS of fruit.

If you get a chocolate craving, a couple of bananas mashed up with a heaping tablespoon or two of unsweetened baking cocoa turns into a sort of chocolate banana pudding. It looks a bit iffy -- you could probably smooth it out in a blender or something if you wanted to go to the trouble -- but it's very yummy, and calorie-wise it's just like eating the two bananas.

That's basically it. The book has complete lists of stuff you can have, stuff you can have with other stuff, and stuff you can't have, but if you want a cut down version, I'll bet just following the proportional eating -- at least 2/3 of fruits veggies to balance out other stuff whenever you eat anything -- will take your weight down, if you don't care about the inflammatory stuff. Although it's amazing how much better I feel -- fewer aches, not as much stiffness, more energy. Sometimes when I have a cheat meal, I'll feel awful the next day, all achey and tired. Obviously something's knocking me on my ass, in the foods I don't usually eat.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :)