Creative Writing

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The Eyes of Texas

The submission window has CLOSED

Update December 27, 2017:

Acceptances were emailed this morning.

Call for Submissions

Texas has it all, from bustling big cities to sleepy small towns, and law enforcement alone can’t solve every crime. That’s where private eyes come in. They take the cases law enforcement can’t—or won’t. Private eyes may walk the mean streets of Dallas and Houston, but they also stroll through small West Texas towns where the secrets are sometimes more dangerous. Whether driving a Mustang or riding a Mustang, a private eye in Texas is unlike any other in the world.

The editor seeks private eye stories that represent the diversity of the Lone Star State. Stories may be set in West Texas, East Texas, the Mexican border, the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, or anywhere in-between, and should represent the cultural, ethnic, gender, and political differences found throughout the state.

Stories should be set in the 21st and late-20th centuries. Stories set in the past might be considered. Stories unlikely to make the cut include those about private eyes from outside the state who pop in for a one-case visit.

The ideal submission will be approximately 5,000 words and will likely be considered hardboiled or noir. Originals only. No reprints.

The Eyes of Texas is currently scheduled for release to coincide with Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas.

Submissions: Use standard manuscript format. Include name, address, telephone number, and email address on the manuscript. Save as a Word document (.doc preferred) and send as an attachment to In the cover email, include the following information: The location in which the story is set (name of the city or the geographic region) and the author’s connection to Texas, if any.

Deadline: November 30, 2017. Though rejections may occur at any point during the process, do not expect acceptance and rejection decisions until February 2018.

Payment: A pro-rata share of royalties.

About the editor: Michael Bracken has edited five crime fiction anthologies, including the three-volume Fedora series. Stories from his anthologies have been short-listed for Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, and Shamus awards, and have been named among the year’s best by the editors of The Best American Mystery Stories and the editors of The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories. He is the author of eleven books and more than 1,200 short stories in various genres, including crime fiction in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Espionage Magazine, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and The Private Eye Writers of America Presents: Fifty Shades of Grey Fedora. In 2016 he received the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in short mystery fiction. Learn more about the editor at

About the publisher: Founded in 2011, Down & Out Books is an independent publisher of crime fiction based in Tampa, Florida. Their novels, anthologies, and stories published in their anthologies have received Anthony, Macavity, Shamus, Thriller, and many other awards. Over the last six years, Down & Out Books has published nearly 200 books and includes Shotgun Honey and ABC Documentation among its imprints. Learn more about the publisher at



Will I receive acknowledgement that my submission has been received?

Yes. You should receive an auto-response within 24 hours of your submission.

Note, however, that my auto-responder only functions when I turn on my computer and log into my email. Attendance at conferences and conventions, as well as vacations and family time away from home (most of which occur on weekends) may delay your receipt of a response.

Also note: If you have not received a response within seven days of submission, check your spam folder, especially if you use gmail. For some reason gmail users often find my emails trapped in their spam folders.

May I submit more than one story?

Yes. Though I will accept only one per author, I'm willing to read multiple submissions.

How's the reading going?

I have read and responded to every submission received prior to November 18, 2017. If you submitted something prior to this date and have not received a response, check your spam folder (see why above). If my response isn't there, please contact me.

Note: I have not seen much diversity in the first wave of submissions. The protagonists are predominantly heterosexual white males, and my hope is that the stories selected for this anthology will represent the diversity of Texas.

How many words are "approximately 5,000"?

Just that. Could be a little longer. Could be a little shorter.

My working target is 15 5,000-word stories, so a 4,000-word story might be balanced against a 6,000-word story. Anything too far from 5,000 (say, a 1,000-word story or a 10,000-word story) is unlikely to make the cut.

Must my protagonist be a private eye?

A private eye must play a significant role in the story, and the best way to ensure that is for your protagonist to be a private eye.

Must my story be set entirely in Texas?

No, but excursions outside of Texas must be appropriate. For example, a P.I. in Texarkana, Texas, is likely to spend time in Texarkana, Arkansas, while working a case, just as a P.I. in El Paso is likely to spend some time in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ensure that there's a compelling reason for the P.I. to cross the border and ensure to account for the complications of acting in a state or country where the P.I. is not licensed. On the other hand, stories about Dallas-based P.I.s spending most of their time in Honolulu, Hawaii, probably won't make the cut.

Can my story be set in a fictional town?

Yes, but it can't be a generic town. Convince your reader that your fictional town is located in Texas. If you're not from here, you may not realize how big the state is and how incredibly different a town deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas is from a town in the arid lands of West Texas.