Judging Corporate Catharsis


The latest release from Paper Angel Press, Corporate Catharsis, is a collection of stories you’ll definitely want to read, even if you’ve never set foot inside a corporate environment. These stories range from the wicked to the horrifying to the cold terrors of day-to-day work life. Some are funny, some are serious, and some are downright terrifying. All will capture your attention.
I was so delighted when Steven Radecki, the Editor in Chief of Paper Angel Press, asked me to participate on the judging panel. I was intrigued from the get-go. For starters, the teaser was great:

The anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

And the hook:

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve been in a corporate environment, it’s something I’ll never forget. Meetings were what sent me over the edge. Those looong hours spent in pointless meetings where my time would have been much better spent doing actual work. My mind would wander. Though I never saw witches during those hours spent in poorly lit, interior conference rooms with limited fresh air, I did some of my best story outlining as my eyes glazed over watching yet another PowerPoint presentation or CaliberRM bug tracking session.
There were three judges on the virtual panel for Corporate Catharsis, and comments and results were tallied in a spreadsheet. I didn’t look at the other judges’ comments until I’d done my read-through and formed my own opinion. The stories came in bit by bit, and I tended to save up and read a few at a time. I’d never done anything like this before, and was not sure what to expect.
I was blown away. The stories were imaginative and well-written. Solid. Unbelievable, ranging from alternate realities to witches and warlocks, mayhem, horror. A few were based in cold, hard reality, which, though not as over-the-top-crazy as a paranormal creature swooping in to mix things up, proved to be mighty disturbing.
I found that we three judges were most always of the same opinion, which was curious. I’d assumed that our reactions would not necessarily be in alignment, but the well-written, solid, engaging, stories definitely stood out and captured everyone’s attention equally. There were several submissions with a great premise that needed some tightening and re-write, and we all agreed on those as well. The authors of those stories were able to rework them with excellent results.
Having submitted stories to anthologies in the past, and with both positive and negative results, it was such a privilege to be on the other side. I know how hard it is to write a story in the first place (in my opinion, so much more difficult than writing a novel), and how much courage it takes to submit once it’s done. Thank you to all the authors who submitted. Your skill and imagination is amazing!

To all you readers out there, I urge you to get your copy of Corporate Catharsis now. It would make a fantastic holiday gift for your team members. Or perhaps a copy will find its way anonymously onto your manager’s desk?!

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