Call for Papers

I am new to the challenge coin tradition, and like most newbies to a discipline, I've taken to researching it in order to avoid stepping on toes.

I have never been issued a coin, I've never been present at a challenge, and I've only personally seen two such coins prior to launching this project, but now I'm approaching the level of "armchair expert." I know the history of the things, including some key points in which the practices have changed, and I've learned that saying "the challenge coin tradition" these days is wildly inaccurate -- there appear to be far more "traditions" here than there are branches of service. 

This is fine. Your unit, your command, your secret society of coin-bearing mint-masons has its own set of traditions for everything else, why should challenge coins be any different?

More importantly, would you like to tell me about it? Would you like to tell everybody about it?

As part of the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter, Sandra and I have agreed to compile, edit, assemble, illustrate (my job!) and electronically publish a collection of anecdotes explaining the various challenge coin traditions. To do this, we need your story. Larry Correia has agreed to provide one (he used to carry a "cake-eating civilian" coin) and Myke Cole has already submitted a powerful piece explaining what the tradition has meant to him. We already have a number of other submissions in the mailbox.

If you carry a challenge coin, it has a story. If you've ever slapped coins on a bar, there's a story. If the "one step and arm's reach" rule has ever been applied to you (or by you) there's almost certainly a story. By telling these stories, and by framing them within the context of the history of challenge coins, we seek to elevate the tradition, and to bring an increased measure of respect to the collection of coins that people carry and display.

Here are the submission guidelines:

  • Word count: 100 to 2,000 words.
  • No special text formatting -- fonts, colored text, etc will be stripped out.
  • This must be YOUR story. No "friend-of-a-friend" apocrypha.
  • Tell a story! Explaining the tradition as it was taught to you is okay, but have a story to tell that drives the point home. Even better? Have a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Your name goes on it. If somebody is referencing these traditions, they should know who to point at.
  • If, for operational security purposes, details need to be omitted, please omit those details prior to submission.
  • If, for the purposes of not getting your ticket punched by your friends, names need to be changed to protect others, change the names (but not YOUR name.)
  • We are accepting submissions right now. We'll probably stop in June.
  • All submissions should be emailed to with the subject line "STRETCH 9 SUBMISSION"

And here's what we agree to on our end:

  • The final document will be available for free, under a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-ND-3.0*) in a variety of formats including PDF, ePub, and MOBI.
  • Nobody (not even us) is getting paid for this. 
  • Submission is not a guarantee of publication. If you're rejected, we'll explain why.
  • Accepted pieces will get careful editing, and we'll involve you in this process. 
  • If you have a byline, blog, or other "you" link, we will post it with your published piece if you want.
  • We are not taking print rights, or really any rights beyond the right to electronically publish. Your piece will remain your property.
  • Howard will add spot illustrations and/or comics where appropriate. 
  • We will make this look good. Our names, your names, and some pretty big names are going into this piece. We want everybody to be proud to have been a part of it, and excited to share it.
  • Publication will be late 2013. This is going to be a lot of work.

Now, it wouldn't be right if the only contributors to this document were people who read my blog. If you know people who have stories to tell, please pass the call for papers along to them. Yes, it's possible we'll end up with hundreds of submissions, but the final project will be better for that breadth. 

(*Note: We've selected the non-modification Creative Commons license in order to protect our contributors from having their stories altered outside of the agreed-upon editorial process. It may seem restrictive at first, especially for a project that seeks to contribute to culture in an important way, but the project will be stronger if the tales don't grow in the telling.)