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Sunnyvale Public Library
665 W. Olive Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 730-7300

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Cooking Up StoriesCooking Up Stories (Overdrive - library card required for the Northern California Digital Libraries)

edited by Liz Hickok and Heather Johnson
published by the Bay Area Library ePublishers

In Cooking Up Stories, 18 authors use short stories about food to dish out unique and timeless tales of the human condition. Mysteries are served with a side of murder. Nonfiction stories of travel, adventure, and family promise to fill you with delight and warmth. Whatever your appetite demands the short stories cooked up by these authors have something to appeal to anyone’s literary taste buds.

Cooking Up Stories is the second community anthology published by a network of Bay Area public libraries and beyond. Some of the authors are published here for the first time; many are names we're confident you'll see again. We are proud to present this new chorus of voices, who sound like the people we meet every day in our libraries. We hope you'll enjoy their stories.
Below you can see the criteria and guidelines which were used by the members of the Bay Area Library ePublishers to select the works in its second eBook, Cooking Up Stories

Workshop Podcasts

Plotting a Powerful Story: One Scene at a Time

In this recording of our first in a series of grant-funded creative writing workshops, on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, Jordan Rosenfeld, a local writing coach and author, takes the guess-work out of plotting by teaching the key scenes that build plot backbone, provides a refresher on the elements of a scene, and breaks down what sorts of scenes are needed in a story.

Listen to the podcast.

Finding Your Voice, Finding Your Words: How to Sculpt What You Really Want To Say

Young Adult and Children's author, Doug Rees, explores the tools and tricks that will help you do the hard work of revising your own writing. Learn how editing is different from writing, how sound and sense form the oral road to the finished manuscript, and how others can help. This presentation and workshop includes hands-on activities for writers of any kind of fiction or non-fiction who are interested in both traditional and self-publishing.

Listen to the podcast.

eBook Self-Publishing with Smashwords: How to do it Fast, Free and Easy (Part 1)

During this introduction to ebook self-publishing Smashwords CEO Mark Coker teaches attendees how to publish like a professional and reach a global market with their words. Listen and learn the top trends in e-publishing, followed by a step-by-step checklist of what's involved to produce, publish, price, distribute, and market an ebook. This fast-paced session provides the foundational knowledge needed to become a more professional, more successful author, regardless of prior publishing experience.

Listen to the podcast.
- View the presentation.

eBook Self-Publishing with Smashwords: The Secrets to ePublishing Success (Part 2)

Smashwords CEO Mark Coker identifies the best practices of the most commercially successful self-published ebook authors. What are these authors doing to make their books stand out to readers? What can you do as a self-published author to take your ebook to the next level of success?

Listen to the podcast.
- View the presentation.

Flash Fiction - The Art of the Very Short Story

Learn flash fiction in a snap! In this workshop MFA Creative Writing Instructor Ben Black reveals techniques for building conflict, resolution, and tension in short-short story style.

- Listen to the podcast.

Submission Guidelines

One entry per person. Work is required to be:

  • one of the first 100 submissions received during the spring open call for submissions
  • food writing (or writing in which food/cooking features prominently)
  • a short story or a short non-fiction piece (no poetry)
  • less than 7,500 words (very short stories are accepted)
  • digitally produced and submitted
  • free from any other copyright holders

How to Submit

Manuscripts must be produced and submitted digitally. A short biography is also required at the time of submission.

Submissions were accepted from April 1 to June 30, 2016.

Due to the automated process used to compile and distribute manuscripts to the selection committee, entries will not be accepted via email, posted mail, or hand delivery. 

Selection Process

Step 1: First 100 manuscripts are received
Step 2: Manuscripts are screened to ensure that they meet all the guidelines
Step 3: Qualifying manuscripts are read and ranked by the BALE panel using a standardized criteria, which includes points for language, technique and style, form and flow, impact, voice, and relevance
Step 4: All 100 authors were notified of the status of their submission

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my work is selected?

Writers of top ranking submissions will be invited to an orientation at the Sunnyvale Public Library where they will learn more about the next steps and where they will be asked to sign a licensing agreement which gives the library the right to publish and distribute the stories.


If your story is selected but you are unable to attend the orientation, you are required to mail an original copy of your signature prior to the date of the orientation to:

Liz Hickok
Sunnyvale Public Library
665 W. Olive Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Mailed agreements are due early and must be received before the orientation. Authors who sign the licensing agreement will have their stories published in the library's eBook anthology, and published authors may be invited to give a reading of their work at a special library event on the release date of the eBook.

On release day the eBook anthology will be added to the online collections of the BALE libraries who participated on the selection panel this year and made available for loan to their library card holders via the Overdrive platform.

All authors with a story in the anthology will be provided a copy of the eBook for download regardless of their library card membership.  

Will I be able to edit my story after it is submitted?

All submissions are considered final. Works which are not edited prior to submission will lose points on technique, form, voice, and impact. Only stories which are considered "publication ready" will be selected by the panel. No rewrites or revisions by the author will be allowed. 

Some minor changes may be made by the editors of the anthology during the production phase as necessary. Examples of these changes might include typographical errors, spelling inconsistencies, awkward phrases or words, facts checked, and punctuation. Changes such as these are often necessary in order to create a uniform style for the anthology as a whole. This "library edition" of your story in no way alters your copyright to the work or ability to publish it elsewhere or make additional changes later. 

Why would I want my work published by the library?

This eBook provides a longer reach for local authors who are interested in building their name recognition through their presence in local library catalogs and on the library website.

What about my copyright?

If your work is selected for publication, you will be asked to sign a legal agreement which grants the library the right to distribute the work indefinitely and which enables the library to retain your work in our collection. The library only holds copyright on the collection in its entirety while the authors retain their copyright to each individual stories. Although the author remains the sole and exclusive owner of the work and is free to publish or sell it elsewhere.

Can I submit illustrations?

The target genres for selection are adult fiction and adult non-fiction. As an anthology, the eBook will not contain illustrations. Please remove all images from the body of the work prior to submission. 

Is there a required word count?

While the maximum length of a submission is 7,500 words, stories are not given extra points based on length. The selection panel looks for content which compliments its style. Any story which is excessively long or excessively short in light of its plot or subject matter will lose points for technique, form, impact, and relevance even if it is within the work limit. 

There is no minimum word count, and very short stories are accepted. However, keep in mind that poetry is not accepted. If your story is so short that it might be interpreted as a poem instead, it might not pass screening and may not be read by the panel.       

Is there a minimum age requirement for authors to submit?

The eBook anthology to be published is intended for an adult audience, so the same adult standards will apply to all submissions regardless of the age of the writer. We are not asking anyone to verify their age. So, technically, a very mature teenager, for example, might submit work that would have a high rank and be selected. The work would need to be written as if an adult wrote it, though, since we will only be selecting the top ranking works that fit together as a whole for publication.

2016-2017 BALE Panelists and Members

BALEBen Black, San Francisco State University, MFA Creative Writing Instructor
Trevor Calvert, Collection Development Librarian, Alameda County Library
Kelly Quinn Chiu, Santa Clara City Library, Children's Librarian
Kate Gaidos Eppler, San Francisco Public Library, Program Manager for The Bridge at Main
Liz Hickok, Sunnyvale Public Library, Supervising Librarian, Technical Services, BALE Co-editor
Heather Johnson, Sunnyvale Public Library, Adult Services Librarian, BALE Co-editor
Nicole Pasini, San Mateo County Library, Library Services Manager
Morgan Rose Pershing, County of Los Angeles Public Library, Community Library Manager
Miya Reekers, San Francisco State University, MFA Creative Writing Instructor
Mathew Rose, Sonoma County Library, Sebastopol Regional Library Manager
John Spears, Pikes Peak Library District, Executive Director

This project was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

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  • Sunnyvale City Hall
  • 456 W. Olive Ave.
  • Sunnyvale, CA 94086
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City of Sunnyvale

  • Sunnyvale City Hall

  • 456 W. Olive Ave.
  • Sunnyvale, CA 94086
  • TDD (408) 730-7501
  • Map and Directions

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