2023 “One Universe to the Left” Anthology

Universe page graphic - new deadline

Editor Mara Johnstone invites your submissions!

From the utterly fantastical to the merely strange, this year's theme is out of this universe! Send your fantasy or science fiction story for possible inclusion in the next Redwood Writers anthology.

Open to all Redwood Writers and CWC members.



Pointed ears. Pointed teeth. Eyes that glow with magic or electricity. Aliens, robots, magicians, eldritch beings disguised as trees; what else might you find in a world different from ours? You are invited to explore the possibilities in this year’s prose anthology, which has a theme of fantasy and science fiction. Submissions will be open from May 1 to July 14, with a workshop on the morning of May 20. Excitement is in the air. Give us a glimpse of what’s happening one universe to the left!

Need some ideas? Here are some possible topics:

  • a pixie determined to learn squirrel-riding before their rival does
  • an alien grad student whose research vessel crashes beside the Grand Canyon
  • a cooking robot tasked with looking after a stray cat
  • a shapeshifter in cat form who needs to escape do-gooders bent on adoption
  • the life and times of an extra-dimensional mail carrier


Only Redwood Writers & CWC members in good standing may submit works to be considered for this anthology.

Up to TWO submissions per entrant.

If you are interested in becoming a member, click here for more information.

Important Dates

Submissions Open:
Monday, May 1, 2023

Submission Deadline:
Friday, July 14, 2023
at midnight

Saturday, May 20, 2023
10 a.m. at Finley Center
(see below for details)

Got Questions?

Send an email to
[email protected]

Or use the form at the bottom of the page.

Please observe the following contest rules. Only entries that comply with the rules will be considered. No exceptions!


  • The story must have elements of fantasy or science fiction
  • The Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the education of writers. As a non-profit organization, it is our position that the club and its publications do not engage in any political or religious activities. Stories that promote a specific political or religious doctrine will not be accepted.
  • Poetry will not be included, as there is a separate anthology dedicated to poetry.
  • TWO submissions per entrant.
  • All stories must be submitted by the Friday, July 14, 2023, midnight deadline for consideration.
  • Work can be complete works or excerpts from larger works.
  • Work must be previously unpublished by a traditional publisher (self-published works are acceptable.)



At the time of submission, include a 50-word professional biography written in the third person.


  • This is a blind judging. DO NOT place your name or contact information anywhere on your submission
  • Place the title at the top of the first page
  • Word count: No more than 2,500 words
  • 1-inch margins
  • 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Manuscripts must be double-spaced
  • One space after punctuation
  • Page number at the top right
  • An abundance of spelling errors could cause a submission to be rejected prior to the editing process.


Questions should be addressed to [email protected], or use the form at the bottom of this page.


HOW TO SUBMIT: Document format: Your manuscript should be formatted as a Microsoft Word document (doc, docx, or PDF).

ONLINE SUBMISSIONS ONLY: All entries must be submitted online using the submission form linked below.


Authors whose work will be included in the anthology will be notified by August 1, 2023. For the benefit of our readers and for our growth as writers, we want to help each other hone these works to make them the best possible. As such, each member whose work is accepted will be expected to work with an editor in order to make recommended revisions.

If the editor-in-chief feels that you need to make specific edits for the integrity of the piece, you have the right to refuse; unfortunately, your refusal is grounds for the story to be eliminated from the anthology.

Workshop Information

workshop image copy

Workshop date

Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
(Before the general meeting)

Cypress Room
in the Finley Center

$25 members
$35 non-members

The theme of the Redwood Writers 2023 prose anthology, One Universe to the Left, is fantasy and science fiction—stories that are magical, out of this world, or otherwise outside the norm. If you're not sure where to start and would like a multitude of ideas, as well as a breakdown of what makes a good story, then join us at the anthology workshop. Current anthology editor Mara Lynn Johnstone will discuss all things speculative fiction. Past anthology editor Roger Lubeck will go over anatomy of an excellent short story. And past editor Crissi Langwell will cover the specifics of submission requirements and how to submit to the website.

See presenter bios below.

Meet the Editor-in-Chief


Mara Johnstone December 2015 Copyright Carolyn P. Reed CPR Photography 2015

Mara Lynn Johnstone grew up in a house on a hill, of which the top floor was built first. Interested in fiction, she went on to get a Master's Degree in creative writing, and to acquire a husband, son, and three cats. She has published several books and many short stories. She writes, draws, reads, and enjoys climbing things. She can be found up trees, in bookstores, lost in thought, and on various social media.

Meet the Associate Editors


John Abbott

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John P. Abbott is an award-winning writer, editor and communications consultant based in Petaluma, California. His fiction has appeared in Frisko, Fence, and the Redwood Writers Anthology. He served as editor of the 2013 Redwood Writers Club Anthology, “Beyond Boundaries,” and is a Redwood Writers contest winner. He has written about his experiences drinking tea with the Bedouins in Saudi Arabia, river-boating down the Mississippi, and trading wind surfing tips with King Charles III.

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Cristina Goulart

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Cristina Goulart writes fiction, flash memoir, and poetry. Her work has appeared in Redwood Writers anthologies, in the California Writers Club literary review, and on stage with Lucky Penny Theater Productions and Off the Page readers theater, as well as placing in Redwood Writers contests. She lives in Santa Rosa with her chubby orange cat.

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Ana Manwaring

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Ana Manwaring is the author of the JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures: Set Up, The Hydra Effect, Nothing Comes After Z, Coyote and in 2023, Backlash; Saints and Skeletons, A Memoir of Living in Mexico; and three poetry chapbooks: Nature Girl, Little Palace of Illness, and Uninhabitable. Ana produces both North Bay Poetics, a monthly poetry event, and SincNorCal’s monthly events. She lives with two feral kittens and her mostly tamed husband. More at www.anamanwaring.com

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Barbara Cottrell

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Barbara Cottrell gave up her career as a professor to pursue her true passion: writing weird fiction. She is the author of The Shadows Of Miskatonic, a series that takes place in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. She enjoys presenting her work in unusual venues like Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum. She also served as a judge on the Redwood Writer Anthologies and helped edit Remember When and On Fire. 

To find out more about her, visit www.barbaracottrell.com.

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Jan Ogren

Jan Ogren

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Jan Ögren, MFT is a developmental editor, international author, public speaker and licensed psychotherapist. She loves helping people rewrite their lives both through therapy and as an editor. She especially enjoys introducing writers to the magical world of developmental editing where creativity multiplies, and readers transform into intimate friends. Jan’s magical realism novel, Dividing Worlds was published in Brazil in 2014. Read more at: www.JanOgren.net and www.JanOgren.Blog.

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1 - Pamela Heck AL

Pamela Heck

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Pamela Heck is an early education specialist who has been entertaining and instructing children for more than thirty years. She is also a professional artist, an award-winning poet, and a former English teacher. Her non-fiction book for children, Amazing Animals: Fun Facts for Kids, combines her teaching experience with her talent as a writer/illustrator. Pamela also writes memoir, short stories, and poetry. Her artwork can be seen at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery.

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Janice Rowley

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Janice Rowley: Curiosity has led Jan many places, from the rural South to the California wine country, from airline to veterinary, from show dogs to rescue dogs, from reading to writing—but always reading. She has served Redwood Writers as Vice President, Membership Chair, and Board Member. Jan's prose, poetry, and editing are represented in most Redwood Writers' anthologies.

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Workshop Presenters

Mara Johnstone December 2015 Copyright Carolyn P. Reed CPR Photography 2015

Mara Johnstone

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Where do you start in crafting speculative fiction? Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Mara Lynn Johnstone will discuss the possibilities — you can turn established cliches around, combine tropes, add a single unexpected element to a normal scene, and more. These are stories about people, after all, just like any other … only with a chance that the people in question may be shapeshifters, curious aliens, enchanted house pets, or a Roomba with an intelligence enhancement that was meant for a different machine entirely.

Mara Lynn Johnstone grew up in a house on a hill, of which the top floor was built first. Interested in fiction, she went on to get a Master's Degree in creative writing, and to acquire a husband, son, and three cats. She has published several books and many short stories. She writes, draws, reads, and enjoys climbing things. She can be found up trees, in bookstores, lost in thought, and on various social media.

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Roger Lubeck

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Roger Lubeck will tell us what makes a short story tick: the elements that every good story needs, compelling characters, conclusive arcs, and more.

Roger Lubeck, Ph.D., is vice president of the California Writers Club, and past president of the Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club. He is the president of It Is What It Is Press. Roger has authored nine novels and co-authored two business books. As well, he was editor and publisher of three anthologies written by members of the Writing Journey, and a memoir, Every Book Counts: The Stories of My Life, by Samuel C. Chandler. Roger has two short plays that were produced: “You Have Won” and “Lean and Hungry.” Roger’s short story “Squeakers” appeared in the California Writers Club 2018 Literary Review.  Other short stories have appeared in several Redwood Writers anthologies: Sunset Sunrise (2020), Endeavor (2019), Redemption (2018), No Contest (2017), Sonoma (2017), Journeys (2015), and Water (2014). His poetry has appeared in And Yet (2020), Crow, (2019), Phoenix (2018), Stolen Light (2017), and Sonoma (2017).  You can read more of his writing at his daily blog, RogerInBlue.com.

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Crissi Langwell

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Crissi Langwell will go over how to submit a short story to a Redwood Writers anthology. Guidelines, requirements, and how to find the website’s submission page.

Crissi Langwell writes romance novels that tell stories of the heart. She joined Redwood Writers in 2012 and has served as the club's 2020 and 2021 anthologies editor. Currently, she is the club's vice president, secretary, newsletter editor, web editor, and social media manager, and was this year's recipient of the Helene S. Barnhardt award. Find Crissi at crissilangwell.com

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Questions? Comments?

Send Us a Message

If you didn't find the answer to your questions on this page, please use this form, or send an email to:
[email protected]

The editor will respond as soon as possible.

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