Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Anti-Villain: A Call for Short Story Pitches

Hey authors! Anyone interested in writing a short story for a paid anthology about anti-villains?

I'm a little tired of anti-heroes. The other day, I asked myself "What would an anti-villain be? Does he do the right thing for the wrong reason? Is an anti-villain the opposite of a villain? Or the opposite of an anti-hero?"
I don't know the answer, but I'd like to find out. So I've decided to assemble an anthology of short stories from a diverse group of authors, each trying to answer these questions. I plan to Kickstart this anthology and sell electronic copies. Depending on the Kickstarter, I will probably sell physical copies as well.
Right now, I want to hear story pitches from as many authors as possible. Define the term "anti-villain" however you like for your story. Maybe an anti-villain is the bad guy you don't want to see captured. Or the antagonist that you like better than the hero. You decide. (And just to be clear, the term itself doesn't have to appear in your story.)
If you are interested, please email me a short (<8 page) sample of your work and a one paragraph pitch of your story for the anthology. Also, please feel free to introduce yourself. Even if we end up not working together on this project, I look forward to meeting any authors interested in this sort of story.

Job Details

  • Stories can be any type of modern or future genre fiction, including but not limited to SF, horror, superhero, supernatural, weird, supernatural religious, paranormal romance, etc.
  • Pitch emails should include a short sample of your fiction, a pitch for your story in this anthology, and an introduction of yourself as a human person.
  • I pay a minimum of $.05/word. I plan to pay $.10/word for shorter stories. (I'm willing to negotiate paying you royalties instead, if I'm already familiar with your work and you prefer that method of payment.)
  • Since I want to Kickstart this fiction anthology, I plan to  pay two or three authors for stories to show during the Kickstarter. Other authors would start writing their stories after we fund. No one should start writing their story until they have a contract and I've given them the go ahead. I don't want anyone to write for me until I already have money for them in hand. 
  • Each story should be 800 to 2500 words. There may be one or two stories that are longer than this.
  • There will be at least seven stories. Depending on how well the Kickstarter does, there may be as many as fifteen.
  • I will accept pitches until August 31st. Pre-Kickstarter authors will probably begin writing in October. Post-Kickstarter authors will begin writing in January 2016 at the earliest.

A few things I can tell you about Ginger Goat

  • We publish rpgs, larps, and fiction, both electronically and in print.
  • We're a small press.
  • We love diversity. I (Josh) love stories written about someone who doesn't look like me by someone who doesn't look like me that still share something about humanity.
  • We like to buy first publication rights, not exclusive rights. We pay on completion, not publication. We like both new and experienced writers.
  • Josh T. Jordan, the owner of Ginger Goat, is a game designer, editor, story addict, sometime-preacher, and high school English teacher. He's been told that he's nice to work with.

Please submit a story idea, even if your imposter syndrome is telling you not to. Some of my favorite work is by first-time writers. Just email me at It can't hurt to try!

Also, feel free to share this call for pitches with any group of writers you want, especially writers who come from an underrepresented race, gender, faith, or other group.

Josh T. Jordan
Ginger Goat

Photo by Keoni Cabral. Used by permission.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Five Seals of InfoSec

Here's a weird idea that I don't have time to turn into a game. Feel free to hack it, if you like.
Information Security, or InfoSec, is too important to be entrusted to normal people. That's why NATO and Warsaw Pact nations began to train mages to protect our nations' secrets.
There are now several overlapping schools of InfoSec datamancy throughout the world. The most successful are in the US, Germany, China, Russia, and India. Rumors persist of schools in Brazil and Israel, but if the other governments are aware of schools in those countries, they aren't talking.
How does InfoSec magic work? There are various incantations and techniques for protecting government secrets. However, the five most common techniques are called the Seals of InfoSec. Each seal represents an entire branch of datamancy. Not all schools teach all five seals. Some schools are much better at one or two of the seals than the rest. But all datamancers are at least aware of the five seals. There are spells and curses outside of the five seals, but these rogue spells are the exception rather than the rule.

The Five Seals
Seal of Obscurity
Seal of Tedium
Seal of Banality
Seal of Encryption
Seal of Monitoring

Obscurity spells make information hard to see or hard to find. This is the most common seal. All schools teach some obscurity spells.
Tedium spells make the information time consuming to read or understand. Imagine an entire book with the words "Fat," Tuesday," and "Bingo" placed randomly between the actual words of the text. This would not make the actual words hard to find, but it would make them take more time to read.
Banality spells make the information so boring or mundane in appearance that it is difficult for an untrained person to focus on the information long enough to finish consuming it. (Banality spells were originally created in the US as an answer the Russian creation of Tedium spells. Now, most InfoSec schools teach both techniques, sometimes in combination.)
Encryption spells alter the information so that it looks like random noise unless you have the code to unlock it. The observer can see the information, but can't make heads or tails of it without the proper training. This is the only school of datamancy that actually involves computers as spell components. Other seals may allow you to cast spells on information INSIDE a computer, but encryption spells are often cast BY MEANS OF a computer.
Monitoring spells do not conceal the information, but they allow the caster to observe anyone who attempts to interact with the information. This defense is less like a barbed wire fence and more like a security camera. Specialists in monitoring spells often carry guns and stay hidden in a room near the information they are protecting.

How does datamancy work? What does this magic look like? I can't tell you. What's the difference between magic and technology? Unfortunately, that's a secret, too. The best I can say is that this sort of magic should either strike your players as cool or you shouldn't use it in your game. And if you want to see the guy who inspired me to write even this much on the subject, I recommend Sam Chupp's Encryptopedia.

Image by Blondinrikard Fröberg. Used by permission.