Deadline: May 31st, 2020
Theme: Horror that takes place in Nevada
An anthology dedicated to the unique horrors of Nevada. We want readers to experience the darkest, scariest, weirdest, most terrifying elements Nevada has to offer! We’re seeking short horror stories between 500 – 7500 words. Stories must be horror, and they must be reliant on Nevada somehow. The “how” is entirely up to you! Originals preferred, but reprints will be considered. Submission Deadline: May 31st or until filled.
ANTHOLOGIES: At this time, we are primarily seeking short stories between 500 and 7500 words for themed anthologies. These submissions will be given priority.
You will be notified whether your submission is accepted or rejected. For anthology pieces, you will be notified no later than four weeks after the submission deadline. For all other pieces, you will be notified within 10 weeks of the date of your submission. If you have not received a response by that time, please email us.
First and foremost, all submissions must be horror.
However, we recognize that horror is a very broad and nuanced genre. To that end, we’ll read stories that fit into other genres (thriller, family drama, coming of age, science fiction, fantasy, comedy, romance, et cetera) as long as the story contains horror, and as long as horror is integral to the narrative.
ALL submissions MUST meet the following requirements (documents that do not meet these guidelines will be returned to authors for correction):
1. 12-point Times New Roman font ONLY (no other fonts, please)
2. Use “SMART QUOTES”
3. Submit all documents as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .pages format
Submit via email to [email protected]
In the body of the email, include your name and contact information.
Unpublished stories are given preference, but we consider reprints on a case by case basis, as long as all rights have reverted to the author.
If your previously unpublished piece is accepted for publication in an anthology, we take First Print and Electronic Publishing Rights, with exclusivity for twelve months from the date of publication.
If we accept your reprint for publication in an anthology, we take nonexclusive reprint rights.
A copy of our publishing contract is available upon request.
Open Submissions: Anthologies
These are general guidelines for ALL anthology submissions.
We’re looking for stories between 500-7500 words. A few words under or over won’t necessarily disqualify a story, but please keep as close to the guidelines as possible.
Stories MUST fit within the horror genre.
Via: Soteira Press.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
by Alyson Faye.
According to The Guardian newspaper article (2018) of the 1100 films surveyed in the last 11 years, only 4% were directed by women. So that’s 22 male directors hired for every woman. Of those female directors typically they had shorter careers than those of their male counterparts with over 80% never asked back to direct a second film.
So it’s tough being a woman in the film making business, therefore it’s perhaps surprising how many horror films in the last decade or so have been directed by women, and not obscure ones or arty ones but mainstream hits that millions have watched and streamed, like Netflix’s Bird Box (2018).
I have picked nine of the best and all are ones I’ve watched. Therefore they are accessible via DVD, streaming or wide cinema release.
If asked to name one female director I suspect most film fans could come up with just one name :- Kathryn Bigelow- who won best director Oscar in 2009 for the massive hit The Hurt Locker (2008).
And it is Bigelow (rather the exception to the rule) with her lengthy and hit-filled directing career that I shall begin with. In 1987 (and it’s only her third credit) Bigelow directed and co-wrote the now cult neo-western vampire film, Near Dark, starring a trio of actors straight off her then- husband James Cameron’s Aliens; Lance Henriksen Bill Paxton, who is memorable in this film and Jenette Goldstein (Private Valdez- remember her?)
Unusually Near Dark tells the story from the point of view of the bitten human, a farm hand, Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) and how he changes gradually into a vampire, falls in love and has to fit into a new friendship group of – biker vampire nomads.
Though at the time the film performed poorly at the box office (being overshadowed by The Lost Boys) it has gained traction since and a following.
Bigelow had at first wanted to direct a western, but with the funding not forthcoming she was advised to combine the western idea with a more popular genre- i.e. horror and vampires.
Near Dark is available to buy on DVD from Amazon at very cheap prices. It’s definitely a fun shivery watch. It is also available to be streamed through Prime Video
My rating 7/10
In 2014 I kept reading online about a new indie film shot in Adelaide, Australia – The Babadook, by an Australian female writer/director, Jennifer Kent, in her directorial début (prior to that Kent had directed one short and one TV episode).
At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival her film won attention and on the back of that a release in the UK and US which allowed the original $2 million budget film to make over $10 million. Ironically it didn’t click in its native home continent.
The titular Babadook is at first a character in the child, Sam’s, pop-up story book, which is read to him by his widowed mother, Amelia, (Essie Davis). However that is only the beginning of this dark, weird and fantastical tale, as the Babadook changes forms and infects the day to day life of the mother and son. Sam is adamant that “you can’t get rid of the Babadook,” and not even burning the book works. But then, as we the audience realise, the Babadook is more than it seems and can be interpreted as a number of monsters (both real and imaginary).
This is a rich thoughtful horror/thriller with no easy answers and repays watching more than once. Kent herself said, that she sought to tell a story about facing up to the darkness within ourselves, the “fear of going mad” and an exploration of parenting from a “real perspective” and she “wanted to create a myth in a domestic setting. And even though it happened to be in some strange suburb in Australia somewhere, it could have been anywhere. I guess part of that is creating a world that wasn’t particularly Australian … I’m very happy, actually, that it doesn’t feel particularly Australian.”
The Babadook became one of the best reviewed films of 2014, with prominent and respected British film critic/writer, Mark Kermode, saying it was his favourite film of the year.
Again it’s available to buy or stream very cheaply.
My Rating 9/10.
I caught up with The Invitation (2015) on Netflix last year and only clocked the director’s name at the end of the credits- Karyn Kusama, a Brooklyn born writer/director/producer. I’ve noticed how many female directors have many other arrows in their quiver as well- writing/producing. Kusama has had a full-on directing career, crossing over from TV to mainstream films and her latest, a thriller, Destroyer, is streaming currently on Netflix, and stars the big name actress, Nicole Kidman.
I re-watched The Invitation just prior to writing this article, and it pays off for the second time of viewing, as you can slot in all the knowledge you have from the first viewing and enjoy the subtle hints and foreshadowings and the build-up on tension.
The plot:- Will (Logan Marshall-Green) takes his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) to a dinner party hosted by his spooky ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) in the Hollywood Hills in her gorgeous magazine style house. (To be honest I had such house envy watching this. The huge glass windows and the long corridors and split level eating areas are used brilliantly by Kusama to ratchet up the tension and fear- doors open and reveal miniature moments of strangeness).
The claustrophobic setting, with only the outside garden area being used as a break from the lushly furnished interiors, the ten or so dinner guests and the climbing mounting tension with flashbacks to Will’s tragic past, set the backdrop for the final 30 minutes when hectic violence and madness explodes.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers but in that last half an hour the film switches gears from thriller to horror and the ending blew me away- it is original and daring and gut punches you.
Currently streaming on Netflix or you can purchase it digitally on Amazon.
My rating 8/10
I watched Honeymoon (2014) only this weekend, on DVD, especially for the writing of this article. It’s the début feature of American writer/director Leigh Janiak, and stars Rose Leslie (who has been seen in Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadaway (interestingly both are British actors). This has a tiny cast, and is shot in a holiday cabin near a gorgeous lake in the middle of nowhere, which was actually North Carolina.
It had a $1 million budget and a running time of 1 hour 25 minutes. It begins as a romantic drama, with the two leads honeymooning happily, boating, kissing, cooking etc together before there is the gear change, the tipping point from where there is no going back. In this case a mysterious bright white light shining into the cabin at night. Bea (Rose Leslie) goes missing from the marital bed and is found, naked, bruised, disorientated (but protesting ‘I am fine’ when clearly she isn’t) in the middle of the spooky forest, by her new husband, Paul (Harry Treadaway).
I did have a few issues with the low tech white light and Bea turning up in the forest, as neither entirely worked for me and Bea clearly needed to see a doctor in real life, but in reel life she didn’t, of course.
The second half of the film is devoted to the disintegration of Bea and the honeymoon as she is obviously not quite herself – something did happen out there in the forest.
There is an explanation at the end of the film which sort of works, but isn’t as original as the one in The Invitation. However the two leads do sterling work and if you like indie horror then give it a watch.
It’s available to buy cheap e.g. 50p plus p&p on Amazon.
My Rating 5/10.
Now to a British writer/director/actress the multi talented Alice Lowe, in Prevenge (2016) who wrote/directed as well as starred in this indie black horror comedy whilst she was eight months pregnant and she said no one would hire her for roles. So in three and a half days she wrote the film and the film took eleven days to shoot, mainly around Cardiff, Wales.
Before the film was released, Lowe gave birth to a baby girl, Della, who was able to portray Ruth’s newborn in the film, at ten days old. So – very much a family affair.
The catch here is her unborn child is homicidal and talks to her mum who then follows through on the foetus’ instructions. The foetus and Ruth (Alice Lowe) a widow, are out for revenge- hence the pun of the title, (get it?) for those she holds responsible for her partner’s death in a climbing accident.
This is so messed-up, obviously breaking a few taboos we hold dear about pregnant women but it is just so much fun.
For those of us who have been pregnant and feeling rather mad and bad, and just want to go out there and run riot, well this captures that feeling and then takes it to another wicked level.
I winced and laughed a lot throughout this film.
It got nominated at the British Indie Film Awards.
Available to buy on DVD.
My rating 8/10. I did love this.
I caught this post apocalyptic zombie horror on Netflix last year, and it’s still available- Cargo. It stars, rather unusually, a very serious Martin Freeman and is co directed and written by Yolande Ramke, another Australian actress/screenwriter/director. https://www.yolandaramke.com/about
Cargo is the first Australian Netflix Original Feature film. The film had its genesis in a short seven minute 2013 film Ramke wrote and co-directed (with Ben Howling), which they expanded into a 100 minute feature film.
Ramke said, “… there’s a big difference there in terms of material. You need to start thinking more deeply about things that you want to be tapping into, and expanding the world of the film, and you have to get a lot more detailed and introduce new characters and new layers to the story”.
This is a zombie film with a difference- for it shows how far one father – himself infected by the zombie virus- will go to find a home and protector for his baby daughter, who he carries in his back pack.
Love conquers all, even a zombie outbreak, is the message here. And Freeman is very touching as the sole surviving parent whose journey, both physical and emotional, we watch as he travels through an arid sun-bleached post zombie outbreak outback knowing he will die and turn and time is running out (he constantly checks his hi tech watch for the deadly countdown) for his daughter.
The final scenes were heartbreaking.
My rating 9/10.
Available on Amazon.
Probably the most famous film on my mini list is Susanne Bier’s Bird Box (2018), based on the best selling novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. It was a massive hit – 45 million people turned out to stream it and it starred Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich.
Bier was fresh off the critical hit of the TV series The Night Manager, but she was still a surprise choice to direct this very different material. Like Bigelow, the Danish born Bier, is another exception in terms of female directors, in having a long successful career behind her, since the 1990’s, including her first English language film, Things we Lost in the Fire (2007) starring Halle Berry, and 2014’s Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper co starrer Serena.
She is also a multi award winning director of the Big Three :- Emmys, Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
Brief plot- The film follows Malorie (Sandara Bullock) as she tries to protect herself and two children (Girl/Boy) from malevolent supernatural entities that make people who look at them go insane and commit suicide.
We the viewers never see the monsters, and to live in this post apocalyptic world with them, the surviving humans, must wear blindfolds whenever they go outside and board up their windows. It is another horror film where the characters are deprived of one sense – in A Quiet Place and Tim Lebbon’s The Silence the humans must live in silence and sign as the monsters hunt by sound.
Bullock risks everything – by taking the children (down a river- great sequence) to “.. a compound. We have a community. It’s safe here…” says the voice on the radio.
Despite the massive Netflix viewing figures this film received mixed reviews – and it is a blend of scary horrific moments, but also shaky, corny, poorly written sections – as a whole it just about works but it is disappointing too as it could be so much more.
Available to stream still on Netflix.
My rating 6/10.
To conclude I would like go backwards to the 1950s and give a shout out to the unique career of Ida Lupino, who became virtually the only female director working in mainstream Hollywood film and TV in that period and that was after a two decade career as an actress and at Warner Brothers as a star.
Lupino didn’t direct much horror, but her sixth directorial film the low budget, black and white The Hitch-Hiker certainly contained elements of horror and terror. Lupino also co-wrote the screenplay.
This one is also available on Amazon!
I also want to flag up a low budget indie Brit thriller with horror suspense elements – Make Up (2019) written and directed by Claire Oakley and starring Molly Windsor.
It was shot on a caravan park in Cornwall. It is described on Imdb thus- On a remote holiday park in Cornwall, a young woman is drawn into a mysterious obsession when she suspects her boyfriend has cheated on her.
Oakley has been involved in The Uninvited (2009) which I caught on Netflix not long ago and contains supernatural and horror elements.
The director Claire Oakley emailed me saying “The film is being released by Curzon across the UK in the summer … It is also playing at a few festivals in the UK in the coming months: Dublin, Glasgow & BFI Flare and it will be playing at SXSW in the states too.
In image:- Molly Windsor as the lead character Ruth.
Having read the press notes for the film, it’s not a straight out and out horror but it does contain elements – the lead character is in a way, haunted, and as Oakley writes, “Wandering around the (caravan) parks at night, I noticed there were plenty of opportunities to use the place in a thrilling and creepy way – for instance, the architecture can be used like a maze,” she says. “A caravan park has the capacity to be both dream and nightmare, with only a flimsy plastic wall as the line between the two.” And “There are a few jumps and scares, but I was more interested in creating a disquieting tension,” says Oakley “….where you have the constant feeling that something is coming for Ruth…”
If you’ve enjoyed my article and share my passion for film, horror, etc then you can get in touch via my blog at https://alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com/ or via Twitter @AlysonFaye2.
Keep watching, feel the reel fear.
Jamex Maxey is a Phobos award-winning author (Nobody Gets the Girl) and 2015 Piedmont Laureate, who is best-known for his dragon novel series, The Bitterwood and Dragon Apocalypse sagas. Recently, Jason Ivey had the opportunity to interview Mr. Maxey on behalf of Horror Tree about his work and his other interests.
HORROR TREE: Looking over your bibliography reveals a fascination with dragons. What would you say makes them so appealing to you?
JAMES MAXEY: There’s a sincere answer and a more cynical one. Both are about equally parts true. The sincere—if nerdy answer—is that I was a major D&D geek from my late teens through my mid-thirties. I moved around a lot during this time, and one of the first things I did when I moved to a new area was to find a gaming store and look for games to join. It was my primary path to having a social life.
Playing AD&D [Advanced Dungeons & Dragons], I sort of hooked on to dragons as the Alpha Monster. I mean, it’s right there in the title. Yeah, I might pit my players against undead lords and wicked queens and the occasional giant, but when it came right down to it my favorite campaigns always built up to a battle with a dragon. As a DM [Dungeon Master], you need to really get into the heads of the characters you’re responsible for. If I used a dragon, I had to really put some thought into its goals and motives and personalities. Accumulating treasure indicated some sort of economic system. The fact they could speak and collected books hinted that as a race they had some sort of culture. Fleshing out these big, scaly beings to give them motives and backstories led rather directly into using these beasts in novels. I’m not ashamed to admit that some of the dragons in my books made [their] first appearances in long ago D&D campaigns.
As for a more cynical answer, well, dragon books sell. I never write a book purely to make money. I really only work on projects I feel passionate about. But, since my dragon books have a wide readership, I get a lot more fan interaction. People ask questions about my worlds that I can’t immediately answer. So, I start pondering on, say, why there were no female sky-dragons or earth-dragons in the first Bitterwood novel, which was an actual reader question. That led to me thinking about the different reproductive strategies of the dragon races, and the fact that female sky-dragons live isolated from the males became a giant plot driver in Dragonforge, and will play an even bigger role in the upcoming Dragonsgate novel.
HT: Bitterwood (The Bitterwood saga) and Infidel (The Dragon Apocalypse saga) are the respective protagonists of their series. Besides gender, how else are they unique? Similar? Which of them seems like the ultimate dragon slayer, i.e. could survive in either of your dragon-universes?
JM: Avoiding specifics, one of these characters doesn’t survive the events of their series and the other does. So, technically, one character wins as the survivor by default.
Stepping back into a more loose interpretation of the question, Infidel would tear through the dragons from the Bitterwood novels without even mussing her hair. She goes head to head with elemental dragons the size of islands in her own adventures. The non-magical, big flying reptiles of the Bitterwood series would get pounded into paste unless they just asked her to please not hit them anymore. She’d probably stop and talk things over with them. She’s a very reasonable person.
Her capacity to make peace with her foes is one of the central differences between Infidel and Bitterwood. Bitterwood is mostly motivated by darkness. He kills dragons because he hates them. If one begged for mercy he’d kill it just a little slower to enjoy its whimpering. Except, ‘enjoy’ isn’t quite the right word. Bitterwood doesn’t have fun in his ongoing war with dragons. There’s a reason the word bitter is part of his name. He’s cold and occasionally—cruel. He kills without remorse. He’s a psychopath. Yet, his focus and skill make him a heroic figure to other humans. He’s defined by his enemies. Since his dark urges find release in the slaughter of dragons, humans think he’s fighting on their side, but he’s not. He’s just driven to kill dragons by his own personal demons. That said, if you’re a human during the dragon age, you probably sleep better thinking that Bitterwood is out there reducing the dragon population.
Infidel, on the other hand, very much enjoys fighting whoever and whatever, but not because she hates anyone. It’s a more childish feeling of triumphing over anyone bigger who stands in her way. She’s dangerous but not sadistic. She’s fallen in among violent men in a savage land and, due to her magical gifts, happens to be really good at putting bullies in their place. She’s carefree but reckless, protected from the consequences of her choices by her enchantments. She’s got a good heart, but due to her upbringing she’s a bit selfish and walled off emotionally. She really only has one friend, and she keeps her past a secret even from him. I think she doesn’t open up and grow as a character until she starts to open up to Aurora. Until then, though she’s well into adulthood, she’s basically crashing through life as a very powerful child.
While you didn’t ask the question, if it came down to a fight between Bitterwood and Infidel, even if she was at the peak of her magical strength and toughness, Bitterwood would still win. Infidel’s powers make her sloppy. Swords bounce off her skin, so she’s never learned to duck or dodge. Her primary sword skill is hacking, which she’s amazing at, but she relies entirely on brute strength. Bitterwood, on the other hand, plans, practices, and perfects his combat skills. Assuming Infidel didn’t take him by surprise and floor him on her first punch, he’d keep out of her reach until he figured out how to use her strength against her. It’s sort of a Batman versus Superman deal. Superman would rely on his powers, but Batman would rely on his training and strategy and win out in the end.
HT: Since you brought up Bitterwood vs. Infidel, I’m curious, who do you think would win in a battle between Smaug vs. Greatshadow (The fire dragon from Dragon Apocalypse)?
JM: You know I’d be rooting for Greatshadow. Greatshadow’s primary advantage would be that he’s not stuck in one body. Smaug might kill one of his avatar bodies, but unless he could track down and vanquish Greatshadow’s soul in the abstract realms, Greatshadow could just make more avatars and keep fighting. That said, if I were tasked to actually write that story, I’d probably go the Marvel route. They’d fight each other for a while, then team-up to go fight the real enemy who’d tricked them into fighting in the first place. Better give up that pipe, Gandolf. A single match is all Greatshadow needs to find you.
HT: Besides your dragon-themed novels, you also do superhero novels too. You have a really unique take on the superhero genre with your characters like: App; the world first open-source superhero who can download body hacks, Cut Up Girl, who can make exploding clones by cutting off her arms, and Nobody, an intangible spy whose life was literally erased by a time-machine accident.
HT: Would you mind telling us more about your unique take on this genre? Do you have aspirations of writing comic books?
JM: I won’t pretend that I’m not a HUGE comic book fan. And, sure, I sometimes think of a great story I could tell if I were writing Superman or Squirrel Girl. But, ultimately, I’m devoted to telling stories in prose rather than pictures. Novels are as close as humans get to telepathy. It’s a very intimate art form, but it obviously has limits. The reason a picture is worth a thousand words is because words can sometimes be just awful at their job. I might need five thousand words of writing to explain the same information you could get from watching a thirty second YouTube video. But, the discipline of fitting infinite content into a confined form is the central struggle of all art. Taking superheroes and translating them into a medium where they aren’t quite as dominant helps me create something new and fresh. It works the other way, too. Bill Sienkiewicz adapted Moby Dick into a graphic novel. P. Craig Russel adapted Salome. They take something familiar and show it in a fresh way. That’s my goal as well.
“Novels are as close as humans get to telepathy.”
— James Maxey
I’ve always had a love of obscure and absurd characters. If DC released a hundred dollar premium hardcover Matter Eater Lad graphic novel tomorrow morning, I’d be reading that sucker by lunch time. So, one of the connecting threads among my superhero books is that I like to focus on characters with crappy superpowers. Or, maybe they have a pretty decent superpower, but have some sort of personal or moral flaw that interferes with their heroes journey.
Big Ape in my Lawless novels is a good example. His power is that he’s a big ape. He’s got some anger management issues and a serious body odor problem. His love life is a mess. He’s got a girl friend whose power is cursing at people until their hair catches on fire, literally. And, of course, he’s covered in fur. But he’s also in love with his best friend Val, though he regards her as off-limits, and during the course of his adventures his faithfulness to Jenny, his actual girlfriend, is put to the test by yet a third woman and it’s not a test he does well on. Again and again Harry (Big Ape) makes terrible decisions. And at the core of his character there’s this existential loneliness. He’s half man, half ape created by a supervillain, and the only member of his particular hybrid species. He tells Val that he won’t die, he’ll go extinct. His never ending battle to find happiness in the midst of all the insanity that surrounds him is what makes him so compelling to write about.
HT: Do you have a favorite horror/fantasy story or author? Was there any specific one that sparked your interest to become a storyteller?
JM: This is a tough one. There are very few authors who I throw myself into entirely. When I was younger, I was a big fan of Piers Anthony, and later I grew to love Terry Pratchett. But, each has such massive catalogs that after a half dozen books or so I felt like I had to move on. My reading tastes are very eclectic. I like big, dense Russian novels, quick and quirky mysteries, hard SF, humor in the vein of Pat McManus, classic novels like Middlemarch [by George Eliot] or Jude the Obscure, westerns, ghost stories, histories, graphic novels… I’m just all over the board on fiction, and my non-fiction reading choices often leave my wife rolling her eyes. Seriously? I’m reading a book about oysters? Circus freaks? Dark matter? Bicycles? The history of fonts? Why does anyone read a history of fonts? I want to read everything, which leaves me weirdly disconnected from having a favorite genre or author. I love browsing used book stores and library book sales and stumbling across a book on a subject or of a genre I never even thought of. I’m a knowledge junky.
As for a book that sparked it all, when I was very young I used to read a series of boy’s science fiction books featuring a young hero named Danny Dunn. I think I can credit them for igniting my love of science fiction. The other book that really pushed me into becoming a fantasy author was, as implied in a previous answer, the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons DM’s Guide. It laid out the elements you needed to run a good campaign: the characters, settings, goals, and rewards. And, in retrospect, the practice of designing a D&D campaign has a lot of overlap with the skills you need to develop if you want to write novels.
The very first novel I ever wrote was actually a rather pretentious “literary” novel about a homeless man. It was terrible. One of my friends that I played D&D with just flat out asked why I didn’t try writing fantasy since I was so good at being a DM. And, I thought, hmmm. And thus, my life was forever changed.
HT: If a new reader were being introduced to your work, do have a book/series that you would recommend? Do you have any book/series you would most like to be recognized for creating?
JM: This is another tough question. My supervillain novel Burn Baby Burn is a contender. I wrote the whole first draft in a week, the book just flowing out of me seamlessly, and I still love every word of it. But, it is a story about supervillains who do some terrible things, and it has fairly explicit violence, language, and sexual content, so it’s not for everyone. If I had to pick just a single book with the broadest appeal, Greatshadow is probably the best introduction to my work. It’s got a blend of both dragons and superheroes, just plain bonkers fight scenes, and a lot of humor and a lot of heart. If you like it, you’ll probably find something to like in just about anything I’ve published.
HT: What are some of your upcoming books/projects that readers can look forward to?
JM: I’ve just finished the third draft of a novel called Dragonsgate: Devils. It’s got dungeons and dragons and dinosaurs. It’s the nerdiest thing I’ve written to date, set in my Bitterwood universe, but launching a brand new trilogy.
I’m also writing a book about how to write books. I’ve written over twenty books, taught workshops, served for a year as a Piedmont Laureate lecturing on the art of writing. I’ve written more blog posts and essays on writing than I care to count. I originally intended just to collect my essays and release them as a book, but it felt disjointed. There was no overall masterplan. So I ditched that and am banging out a unified manuscript that provides the secrets to writing fiction and making money from it.
HT: That’s actually a good segue into my final question. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers that you care to offer? Perhaps something learned from dealing with publishers, or other aspects of the writing profession?
JM: Yes. Here’s the central premise of my writing book: Turning your daydreams into dollars isn’t hard. I mean, it’s not simple, but it’s certainly doable if you’ve got an imagination and a basic command of the language. The main physical requirement is a ton of time with your butt in a chair and your hands on a keyboard. I still can’t get over it! People pay me money for making stuff up! I spend my days thinking about dragons and superheroes and somehow this pays my light bill, puts a car in my driveway, a roof over my head, and provides health insu— okay, actually the fact that my wife has a good job provides the health insurance. I’ve found some real world limits on how far I can push this grift [gift?].
Still, if you want to make some money writing books, it’s easy to get lost in the thickets of plotting and publishing and promotion, easy to have your heart sink as you contemplate fourth and fifth and sixth drafts. You’ll tear your hair out as editors quit, and publishers fold, and ten thousand books a day flood Amazon leaving your newly released book washed away in the flood of titles. But it’s okay! Don’t lose sight of the big picture! Writing ain’t rocket surgery. Making money writing fiction really comes down to a tried and true formula:
Daydreaming + Typing = Profit!
It really is that easy. The only things about the process that are even a little, tiny, eensy bit difficult are (1.) The daydreaming, (2.) The typing, and (3.) making a profit. But I’ll explain how to get around these difficulties. It’s why I’m taking the time to write a book, instead of just selling a button that says: “Daydream, Type, Profit,” and calling it a day.
HT: Thanks James for taking the time to speak to Horror Tree!
Mr. Maxey’s forthcoming novel Dragonsgate: Devils is set to be released in 2020. If you would like to know more about his work you can do so by visiting the following links below.
Dragonsgate: the Worlds of James Maxey: This Facebook group started by a fan is a good place to hear about James Maxey’s upcoming events and newest releases.
James Maxey Amazon Page: This is where you can find all of the author’s available titles to purchase.
James Maxey: This is the author’s official website where you can learn more about him.
Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
Title: The Wise Friend
Author: Ramsey Campbell
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Release Date: 23rd April, 2020
Synopsis: Patrick Torrington s aunt Thelma was a successful artist whose late work turned towards the occult. While staying with her in his teens he found evidence that she used to visit magical sites. As an adult he discovers her journal of her explorations, and his teenage son Roy becomes fascinated too. His experiences at the sites scare Patrick away from them, but Roy carries on the search, together with his new girlfriend. Can Patrick convince his son that his increasingly terrible suspicions are real, or will what they ve helped to rouse take a new hold on the world?
I obtained a paperback ARC for this review, not from the publisher but from a bookshop.
Prefacing the novel is an interesting q & a foreword with Campbell.
This is the latest from the British horror writer, Meister Ramsey Campbell (The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as Britain’s most respected living horror writer). Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing, launched in 2018.
I’ve been reading this writer’s work on/off for 30 years, often in battered second-hand paperbacks with lurid covers. Those covers bring back happy memories when I revisit them.
I am therefore hard wired to enjoy a Ramsey Campbell, and this is going to be a positive review. In my humble opinion, if you write horror, then you should read at least one of Campbell’s novels as part of your reader education curve.
Now to the plot.
This story visits the past (1960’s?) and present, tapping into teenaged Patrick’s memories from when he vacationed with his talented artist aunt, Thelma Torrington, then to present day when Patrick and his teenage son, Roy, rediscover Thelma’s lost journal. The journal becomes a guide to the obscure ancient sites around Britain which inspired Thelma’s strange, mystical and disturbing artworks. They are joined on their journey by Roy’s new girlfriend, a quirky, elusive student, Bella.
Hanging over their quest is the knowledge that Thelma died horribly, possibly a suicide. The site of her death is one of the places they visit.
Patrick, sensing danger, wants to stop the search, but Roy is obsessed and driven. Patrick fears for his son’s safety. He questions the memories of his aunt and who/what Bella might be? Is she saviour or siren? Is she something else entirely? The stage is set for the final deadly battle – who will triumph? I’d have liked more history in regard to what happened to the aunt.
This is a slow burn of a horror novel with layers of the past stripped away, revelations of family dysfunction revealed (Patrick’s scenes with his ex-wife are painful in themselves) along with the growing knowledge that something is haunting the Torrington family both through the paintings and in person.
If you love lots of action and gore, violence, and folks screaming and running around – this is probably not the horror novel for you. There are no zombies or vampires.
There are a number of well-written creepy-as-heck scenes set in woodland and derelict buildings. The dialogue between Patrick, Roy, and Bella is a masterclass in clever, ambiguous, and subtle exchanges which have more than one meaning. It gradually builds to a deadly outcome.
This story is from the school of something-nasty-is-coming-for-you, glimpsed from the corner of your eye. It slithers up on you at the tube station and then slides into the seat beside you.
Even though I’d have liked a little more reveal earlier on, I do recommend this novel, and there is much here to enjoy.
It didn’t quite hit the full 5/5 stars for me, but it was close.
Payment: 1 cent per word for original fiction. 10k words = $100, 50 cents per line for poetry.
Theme: Original horror and dark fantasy stories, poems, and images (paintings, drawings, etc). Most types of horror and dark fantasy are welcome but we do prefer the work have a science fiction or otherwise cosmic philosophical leaning.
Cosmic Horror Monthly is a horror and dark fantasy magazine edited by Charles Tyra.
Instructions: All fiction must be submitted via email to [email protected] When submitting please paste the entire story in the body of the email. For artwork, please put a link to the gallery/pieces in the body of the email along with any relevant background information. Attachments are acceptable only when submitting individual artwork for consideration. Acceptable file formats are JPG, PNG.
Please only submit ORIGINAL work.
Cosmic-Horror is seeking original horror and dark fantasy stories, poems, and images (paintings, drawings, etc). Most types of horror and dark fantasy are welcome but we do prefer the work have a science fiction or otherwise cosmic philosophical leaning. If you aren’t sure if your work qualifies, submit it and we can decide. No subject is off-limits and we do encourage writers to try and push the status quo. A writer may submit as many stories as they like, but please only submit a single story once. Every email will be checked!
Word Count: We are open to stories of 1000-7500 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred.
Cosmic-Horror is a growing publisher looking to get established with writers in the indie scene. We pay for stories and art but do keep in mind that all our content is offered for free in order to reach as wide an audience as possible and still provide a premium product with maximum exposure for our writers being in the forefront of concern. For the time being:
1 cent per word for original fiction. 10k words = $100
50 cents per line for poetry.
20 dollars for artwork chosen as interior content.
50 dollars for cover art.
Rights: Please request the artist/publisher contract.
Cover Letters: The first paragraph of your email should contain the length of your story (if applicable), your publishing history, and any relevant information.
Email [email protected] for all inquiries, or if you have any trouble using our online submission system.
We will try to respond to every email with feedback but unless we are requesting more from you, there is no need to respond, even to say thank you. It may sound harsh, but those emails will only serve to clutter up the editorial inbox.
Diversity Statement: We believe that the horror genre’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission queues; we welcome submissions from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.
Sexual themes and stories with strong sexual content are acceptable, but Cosmic-Horror is not a market for erotica. If in doubt, feel free to send your story in and let us decide.
Please no fan fiction for existing creative universes not in the Public Domain. (The Cthulhu mythos is fair game )
If you’re not sure if your story is suitable, don’t query; please just go ahead and submit it and let us decide.
You are welcome to resubmit previously rejected stories/poems if they have been significantly revised.
Via: Cosmic Horror.
I’m a quote person, and this is one of my favorites:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” In other words, I make plans, but am not afraid to throw them out the window. This is so true when it comes to writing—I usually write a premise, but wind up as more of a pantser. With that in mind, I reached out to some of my favorite horror writers with questions about writing, and their process. Some of these Qs are kinda quirky, and definitely interesting!
Meet Gwendolyn Kiste, my horror writing mentor.
What was the first horror novel you ever read? Tell me what made it appealing.
Most of my earliest experiences with horror were with short stories from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch. I’m not sure if Goosebumps, Fear Street, or Christopher Pike books count, but some of those were likely long enough to qualify as novels. Otherwise, I believe the first adult horror novel I ever read was probably Carrie. I loved the way King told that story through such an unusual epistolary format. I was in middle school at the time, and I related so much to Carrie and what she was going through, so that certainly made it a very intense and memorable experience as a reader.
How do you feel about horror genre blends (like romance/horror), or are you a purist?
I love horror genre blends! Horror-science fiction, horror-comedy, horror-romance—I think it can all work so well! Horror is so malleable and wide-ranging, so it can incorporate virtually any genre very easily. I like to see stories that push at those boundaries. It can help to create such original and unexpected ideas.
What drew you to the book you’re currently reading?
For once, I’m actually not currently reading something that’s genre-related. I’m working through a photography book called Suburbia by Bill Owens. It was published in 1973 and was a very seminal work of photojournalism of its time. The book has gone on to influence the aesthetic of several films including Edward Scissorhands and The Virgin Suicides. At the moment, I’m working on a short story based in a very similar type of suburbia, albeit one with a supernatural atmosphere, and I’m eager to see what kind of inspiration I can take from this book. The pictures are so incredible and capture such a specific moment in time, so that alone has been really fun to see.
Who is your favorite female villain? Why?
I love fairy tales, so Maleficent definitely comes to mind, as does the Evil Queen. They feel so grand and timeless and fearsome. As for horror villains in particular, let’s circle back around to Carrie White. She’s an incredible character because she’s both the protagonist and antagonist of the book and film adaptations. That’s a difficult balance to have a villain who’s also sympathetic, but when it works well, as it does in the book and especially the 1976 film, it creates such an unforgettable character.
How do you watch horror? (i.e. In your pajamas, late at night with lights low and a bowl of popcorn.)
Usually with my husband on the couch. The best nights are when we can just sit back together with pizza and watch something we’ve never seen before, the two of us picking the movie apart and even pausing it every few minutes to talk about it. That stop-and-go viewing would probably irritate a lot of people, but he and I love it, so that’s definitely our thing.
What are your top three favorite horror movies, and what made them interesting to you?
This is a constantly rotating list, but at the moment, I would go with The Old Dark House because it’s a great classic pre-code horror film with such a perfect cast; Invasion of the Body Snatchers because that story is always relevant, no matter the decade or social climate; and Get Out because it’s not only an amazing film on its own, but it also shows what the future of horror has in store for us.
Where do you draw the line on violence in your writing?
I try very hard to be sure that the violence is necessary to communicate the theme of the story, and it isn’t just there in a gratuitous or deliberately appalling way. So long as there’s a reason for the violence, especially in a genre like horror, I think it can work well. But I’ve just never been a big fan of shock violence, so that’s why I’m very careful as to where to draw that particular line.
How do you feel about including profanity, and do you have a favorite cuss word? ☺
It’s funny because I don’t mind using profanity in casual conversation, but I only rarely include it in my writing. I’m not against it, per se, but I do think it can become easy to lean too much on it to communicate emotion, especially anger. Again, like the use of violence, I very much think it can work in horror, so long as it’s used for a specific reason. As for my favorite cuss word, I probably drop a couple dozen casual F-bombs a day, so let’s go with that one!
Tell me about a quirky writing habit you have.
I’m sure I have so many quirky writing habits, but they all seem so normal to me now! My weirdest habit—and honestly one of my least productive—is my constant list making. I create lists for everything: plot points, character names, dialogue ideas, edits. You name it, I have a list for it. The problem arises because sometimes, I’m just making lists to avoid doing the hard stuff with writing. It can be way too easy to feel like you’re working when really you’re just delaying. Plus, my lists start to pile up on my desk until there’s almost no room for them. Speaking of which, excuse me for a moment while I clean up my workspace of all this clutter!
If you were to set a story in another country, what one would you chose and why?
Hmmm… this one took me a moment to decide. I think I’d probably go with the Netherlands because I spent a bit of time there years ago in college, but I’ve never really incorporated any of that experience into my writing. Plus, there aren’t too many horror stories set there, so that might be a lot of fun to explore at some point!
What food (or non edible) would you vomit (out of disgust) if you ate it?
Pick 3 characters. Who would: 1. Cook it 2. Feed it 3. To whom would it be fed?
Ha! This is a wonderfully horror-perfect question! I’ve never actually had it, but the whole idea behind headcheese disturbs me greatly. So let’s go with Leatherface as the cook since he’s disturbingly handy in the kitchen; a Stepford Wife as the one who serves it since she could probably even make it look really nice on the plate; and Hannibal Lecter as the person who actually eats it because even with Leatherface’s “special” recipe, I doubt the ingredients would bother Hannibal too much.
Best writing advice you’d like to share?
Write the stories you want to read. It can be easy to fall into the idea of writing what will sell, and honestly, that’s fine too, but I think you can write marketable fiction that would still resonate uniquely with you if you were the reader. We need more stories in the world that are written by people who are passionate about what they’re doing and who aren’t simply telling the same old stories, so as trite as it might sound, follow your heart, and write what you believe in. There will be readers out there for it.
How do story endings really irritate you?
Especially with horror, I’m always disappointed if a story takes a sudden and inexplicable turn for the worst, just because the author clearly thinks a horror story needs to end badly. Now plenty of horror stories can and should end on a sour note; if that’s where the tale has been heading all along, then it makes sense and can still leave the reader or viewer with a real sense of resolution. But when it’s very abrupt and just for the sake of getting a reaction, that can be a missed opportunity to do something more creative and compelling with the story.
Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your writing?
Yes, I definitely do. I love to use small details and images as well as songs and pop culture references as a way to explore and hopefully deepen the reader’s connection with the story and its themes. Even if someone doesn’t overtly catch it, I think some symbols in fiction and film can work almost on a subtle, almost subliminal level. Also, I always enjoy picking apart stories and films for extra layers, so I like to give my readers that same opportunity if they’re interested.
How do you come up with your titles?
My approach to titles seems to change with each story. In some cases, I start with a title and go from there, crafting a story to match. Other times, the title doesn’t come along until the story is done or almost done. One goal of mine is that my titles haven’t been used before. While titles are not usually trademarked, meaning in most cases writers can use a preexisting one without a problem, I do try to create titles that are unique to my piece. It can be so much fun when you finally hit on the right title for a story; that sometimes feels like the moment when the whole thing comes together at last.
What writing tools are a must-have?
You know, I’m not sure I feel like there are too many must-have writing tools, beyond a word processing program. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a writer: in other art forms like filmmaking or even most visual arts, you need so many tools just to get started, but with writing, you only need your own mind. It’s so freeing in that way.
Please give us a blurb about your latest release. Which actress would play Phoebe in your latest novel, The Rust Maidens?
The Rust Maidens is a coming-of-age body horror novel set in Cleveland that follows a group of girls who start to transform into the rust and rot of their city.
I would love to have Winona Ryder play Phoebe from the 2008 section of the novel. She’s exactly who I was envisioning as I was writing the book. I don’t know about the younger Phoebe from the 1980 section; I’m pretty open on that, but definitely Winona for forty-something Phoebe. She’d be so perfect.
What’s the best part of what you are working on right now?
My first instinct is to say that the best part is that it’s over halfway done, which is really nice since I’ve been working on my current book for almost a year. But really, the best part is getting the opportunity to craft a longer work that incorporates so many of my favorite things: a fairy tale setting featuring witches, ghosts, and an ethereal flock of birds. Still, I will be very happy when it’s complete, so I can finally share it with everyone and see what they think. Hopefully, that will be soon, but some stories can have such minds of their own, and they take however long they need to be finished. I always say that so long as I’m enjoying writing, that’s all I can ask for.
Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; and the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Shimmer, Interzone, and LampLight, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com
Deadline: October 30th, 2020
Theme: Mezo-American/Latinx Authors and Stories
Note: Reprints welcome
In ‘Corners of the World’ collections we showcase writers and authors from all around the world, each collection focuses on a different subset of people from different cultures. Giving their unique voices and stories a chance to shine. For these collections, we want to bring the folk stories and societies to life in stark horror through the eyes of those who inhabit them.
Theme – Mezo-American/Latinx Authors and Stories
This year we are looking for Latinx and Mezo-American authors to submit stories that pertain to the legends, folklore, culture, and fears that exist within and surround the cultures of Central and South America, as well as those that have emigrated to North America bringing their stories with them. We HIGHLY recommend you pick up a copy of “Of The Book” our last volume. We are more interested in the authenticity of voice than the fear factor.
Please note in your cover letter if you have your story in English & Spanish, only in Spanish or only in English.
Currently Open – Will Close When We Have Enough Stories
- Violence, sex, and gore must be pertinent and interesting to the story.
- Rape is never acceptable.
- Anything too gratuitous will be rejected.
- Racism/Sexism/Bigotry of any form will never be accepted here.
- Double-check your grammar and spelling.
- Format your story correctly.
- Please submit all stories in DOC/RTF format.
- Reprints are ok.
- Please include a small bio that includes your own connection to the Latin-American people or culture.
- We retain exclusive publishing rights for 12 months.
- We pay $5.00 for stories
- Deadline is 10.30.20 –
- We give this a long submission time due to the narrow nature of our search. Once we have all the stories we need we close submissions.
Via: Madness Heart Press.
Deadline: April 4, 2020
Payment: 8 cents per word
Theme: Take a hard left turn from normal. Bring us your unsettling stories. If a common activity leads to violations of the laws of man or nature, your story may be perfect for this collection. Ideal genres: horror, crime
Take a hard left turn from normal. Bring us your unsettling stories. If a common activity leads to violations of the laws of man or nature, your story may be perfect for this collection. Ideal genres: horror, crime
Editor: Sandra Ruttan
Note: We will not process or respond to submissions sent to the wrong email address. Only submissions sent to [email protected] will be processed.
Note: Each story should be submitted in its own email. Do not send a submission as a response to a rejection or email query. Do not send multiple stories in the same email.
Pro Tip: Read Rigor Morbid: Lest Ye Become to get a sense of what the editor is looking for in stories. The tone is appropriate for Disturbia and Rigor Morbid 2.
We welcome submissions from diverse authors. We encourage individuals to opt to include a bio (100 words, written in third person) and author photo that can be used with the publication when submitting.
*Diverse can refer to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or those that are specially abled
$0.08 U.S. per word
We will not publish stories that are donated — all writers must be prepared to receive payment through one of our approved payment methods. All payments to U.S. writers will be made by check. All payments to international writers will be made by Paypal to a verified Paypal address that is in the writer’s name.
- Stories should be 3000 words or less
- Stories should be attached as a .doc or .docx file
- Text in stories should be in black ink
- No underlined text in stories
- Use a standard font (Times New Roman or Courier)
- stories should be sent to the proper email address
- submissions should be addressed to Sandra Ruttan
- submissions should have the requested information in the subject line
- submissions do not need to be accompanied by an email. An author bio is preferred.
Send submissions to Sandra Ruttan [email protected]
Your Email Should:
- Have a subject line that indicates the name of the submission call, the name of the story, the author’s name, the word count of the story and the genre of the story
- Example: Disturbia – ‘This is My Story’s Title’ – by Author Name – 2725 words – horror
- Be addressed to the editor, Sandra Ruttan
- Include a bio (100 words, written in third person) and author photo*
- Your bio can indicate if this is an #ownvoices story — we welcome #ownvoices submissions
Deadlines – Disturbia
Submissions will close on April 4, 2020 at 11:59 pm Eastern or when 175 submissions are received. In the event that we are approaching our submission limit for this call we will post a two-week warning with a revised deadline here. We will also update people through our newsletter.
- We use an auto reply to confirm we have received submissions
- You should receive an auto reply that will remind you of the submission guidelines to ensure that your submission will be processed
- We will not process submissions that produce a ‘failure to deliver’ message when we send the auto reply (Why? It can indicate the email account is not working. We have sent more than a dozen direct emails about submissions in the past three months that have failed delivery. They continued to fail delivery after repeated attempts. The time spent processing those submissions and attempting correspondence impedes our ability to spend time on serious submissions we could potentially publish.)
- If you notice you missed something, resend the entire submission and note in your email that you are replacing a prior submission because some material requested was not included. Please do not send separate emails with pieces of a submission.
- We normally review submissions in the order received, with the exception of material lacking the word count or not conforming to the submission guidelines
- Suspected troll submissions may be eliminated before submission review begins
- Submissions that do not state the word count will not be prioritized for review
- Submissions with significant formatting issues that do not follow our guidelines will also not be prioritized for review
- Stories that are not prioritized will only be reviewed if space is still available when all other submissions have been reviewed
Submissions That Will Not Be Processed
- Stories that exceed the word count limit
- Submissions of PDF, RTF or other document formats, or that include the story in the body of the email
- Submissions sent via DM on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform
- Submissions addressed to persons other than Sandra Ruttan
- Stories with colored text
Are not permitted for this open call
Are permitted. Please withdraw your story ASAP if it is accepted elsewhere.
Are not permitted for this open call at this time except by invitation
Stories that have been rejected cannot be submitted to the same open call. They may be submitted to a different open call with a different editorial team.
No content is guaranteed publication until an agreement is signed by both parties.
Failure to return the signed contract in a timely manner can result in a delay in publication or cancellation of publication
If edits aren’t completed within one week from the time issued it may result in a delay in publication or cancellation of publication
- Absolutely no adults having sex with minors, or anyone having sex with animals.
- We will not publish works that appear to promote hate towards people based on their religion, race, gender or orientation. While we may publish a story about racism, or that has sexism or bigotry as a component, there’s a line between writing about something and endorsing it. When necessary, we will hire a sensitivity editor to review content.
- To clarify, a story touching on racism may require a racist character that makes a racist statement. These should be used sparingly, and carefully. When the narrative is peppered with racist insults the story has gone beyond establishing that a character is racist and may read as a presentation of the author’s views. Anyone who is not prepared to work with a sensitivity reader or have this content addressed in edits should not submit to us.
- “While we will consider stories that deal with sexual abuse, the acts should be alluded to but not detailed. We are not interested in publishing stories that would appeal to pedophiles or abusers.” – Sandra Ruttan
We will work with sensitivity readers if we feel their insight is required for a story we’re considering. If you are a writer who is not willing to complete edits and work with a sensitivity reader, if required, do not submit to us.
This information is for forthcoming submission calls for three anthologies. There is no guarantee of publication. The editor reserves the right to select the stories they wish to publish. The editor will not send editorial notes and detailed explanations about the stories not selected. That is a service an editor-for-hire or a beta reader provides. When you are submitting to a publication call you are, in a manner of speaking, auditioning for a job. You either get it, or you don’t. The editor’s decision is final. We will not debate or discuss our decisions with you. We routinely post tips and writing insights at Bronzeville Bee to help writers refine their work or determine if our publications are a good fit for them. We publish fiction at Bronzeville Bee. We have published Rigor Morbid: Lest Ye Become. A good way to determine what we publish is to read what we have published.
Correspondence should be directed to the email address provided here. Do not submit stories via Facebook or other social media DM channels. Do not send a message request to an editor’s personal social media account to argue about a submission. This is harassment. The editor reserves the right to ban you from consideration for future projects if you harass them.
Via: Bronzeville Books.
Jessica McHugh is the author of more than 20 books, including an edgy young adult series, The Darla Decker Diaries, and acclaimed novels The Green Kangaroos and Rabbits in the Garden. She’s appeared in high-profile anthologies alongside names like Jonathan Maberry and Jack Ketchum.
However, it’s her upcoming poetry collection that has her almost literally beaming with joy.
“My first poetry collection, A Complex Accident of Life, comprised of blackout poems found in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be released from Apokrupha Press in April,” McHugh announced in an exclusive interview with Horror Tree. “I seriously couldn’t be more excited about this. I even feel … sparkly.”
Oddly enough, the death of her precious feline companion, Tyler, led McHugh to discover her love for creating blackout poetry. She writes movingly of Tyler Durden Bonito McHugh in the acknowledgments of the anniversary edition of her novel Rabbits in the Garden, sharing that losing Tyler changed her as “an artist and human being.”
“It’s really quite amazing how grief changed me,” McHugh said. “I mean, not beneficially as an author sometimes, but it’s still pretty fascinating how losing him affected my brain chemistry. Grief stole from me a certain spark I’ve never quite been able to regain. It also caused my hands to shake, and I began having bad panic attacks. It was really bad for a while, as Tyler was incredibly tied to my writing life.
“I do feel a lot better in that area now, but sometimes when I try to write I’m overcome by that deep loss and my hands shake again. Luckily, I have the tools to combat that now. Meds, breathing exercises, and yoga have helped me immeasurably.
“And the thing is, even though the spark I had with him is gone, I’ve found other sparks. I discovered my love of making blackout poetry last year and sold a bunch of pieces and books at an art fair around Christmas; it’s been years since I did a festival or con, so it was a pretty big deal for me. As I say in my poem ‘What You Get For Caring,’ grief’s a witchy trickster, and yes, I was changed by it, but not all those changes are bad, or unwelcome.”
Of course, February is Women in Horror Month (WiHM), and McHugh recognizes the value of it. She has a new story titled “This Can Happen to You” in the upcoming Strangehouse Anthology By Women of Horror, Not All Monsters.
“For me, it’s about celebration and education,” she said of WiHM. “It’s the exchange of joy and knowledge and, yes, sometimes uncomfortable conversations (or really friggin stupid conversations where small-minded individuals are involved), and it’s had a profound impact on me as a writer and reader. I discovered Octavia Butler during WiHM. I discovered Daphne Du Maurier. I read The Yellow Wallpaper for the first time.
“But more than that, I discovered a diverse and witchy horde of viciously talented artists who inspire me to own my power as an author and a woman. We still have a long way to go – trans woman and women of color still aren’t represented as much as they should be – but I think there’s value in spotlighting female horror artists whenever possible.”
McHugh’s fiction is edgy, often writing complicated characters dealing with issues of addiction and mental health. She said she’s “know (and been) quite a few complicated people.”
“The Green Kangaroos was directly inspired by my brother, who’s an addict and middle child like Perry Samson,” McHugh said. “And while the familial relationships are altered, there are some deep pockets of personal pain in that novel. It was also, oddly, the most fun I’ve ever had writing a novel.
“But I’ve had my struggles too, of course. I mentioned having panic attacks after Tyler died, but the truth is I’d had a bunch throughout my childhood without ever realizing it. I guess when Tyler died and the attacks affected my ability to hold a pen, my brain was finally able get through to me about the depression and anxiety I’d been self-medicating for years. Again, amazing things those brains.
“But it’s also not as fun for me writing someone who isn’t complicated, who doesn’t have moral quandaries or an angry broken heart. I’m not always trying to write unlikable characters though. Except Rebecca Malone. I definitely set out to write the most unlikable character ever. I want my characters to feel realistic, and there are some pretty shitty people out there.”
While McHugh boldly tackles adult themes, she also applies her edgy style to young adult fiction with The Darla Decker Diaries, a series following a girl’s journey to adulthood.
“I feel like the life of a teen girl growing up still has elements of grit, addiction, and horror,” McHugh said. “While The Darla Decker Diaries are mostly meant to be fun, I definitely didn’t shy away from the icky and downright scary stuff. I don’t change my style or intent much when writing for a younger audience. I’m not going to swear as much, of course – though the first Darla book does have the word ‘fingerbang’ – and I can’t shred the flesh from anyone’s face – but that doesn’t mean things don’t get bloody – but there is legitimate darkness on the edges of Darla’s world.”
Roald Dahl and H.P. Lovecraft were McHugh’s chief influences when she started writing seriously at 19 years old.
“If you read my first stories, I feel like it’s extremely obvious too,” she said. “It tickles me to no end that I’ve actually reworked and sold some of them. But I was also hugely influenced by Bret Easton Ellis and Anne Rice, and I’d be remiss not to mention I’d been reading Stephen King since fifth grade. My selections weren’t all that diverse back then, which is why I’m so grateful there are so many different kinds of writers in the small-press community. I love a fun horror anthology that allows me to hang out with some old favorites and get to know the up-and-comers.”
The Green Kangaroos published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven from Raw Dog Screaming Press are two McHugh novels by McHugh that would be perfect introductions for new readers of her work.
“They’re both brutal, but in very different ways,” McHugh said. “While The Green Kangaroos centers on body horror and the impact of Perry’s addiction, Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven has more of a grimdark ensemble that battles the horrors perpetrated by the corrupt men who run their broken world. But I feel like both perfectly embody me as a writer and my fondness for genre-mixing.”
Since Horror Tree is a website that supports writers with markets and writing advice, I asked McHugh if she had any tips to share.
“I didn’t have any mentors when I was starting out,” McHugh said. “I didn’t go to school for writing (or much of anything), and I barely knew any other artists, let alone writers, so I wasn’t given much advice. Except, when it comes to process, you have to find what works for you. I like working on multiple stories, in multiple genres and POVs, so if I get stuck on one, I can switch to something else. But that’s madness to some people, and I totally get it. I mean, I handwrite my stories most of the time, and that’s just not possible for other folks.
“But working as a creative writing instructor for kids 8-18 for 5-plus years allowed me to see this strange obsession new writers have with word count. They would literally call out their total every few minutes. I also saw this behavior mirrored on social media for a number of years. Not to say accountability isn’t important – it’s essential – but there’s a point when you get so focused on accruing words, you stop noticing whether they’re the right, or most powerful, words. And when you consider that a great piece of writing uses the least amount of words possible to convey maximum effect, my advice is this: Don’t aim for a word count. Aim to make your words count.”
Deadline: March 28th, 2020
Theme: Ideas: April Fool’s Day, Passover, Easter, Tax Day, Earth Day, World Immunization Week
We are looking for some suitable stories for April 2020, including:
- April Fool’s Day
- Tax Day
- Earth Day
- World Immunization Week
The deadline for these stories is March 27, 2020, at the end of the day (11:59 PM Pacific Time).
Every Day Fiction is looking for very short (flash) fiction, of up to 1000 words. There’s no such thing as too short — if you can do the job in 50 words, have at it! — but our readers prefer pieces that tell or at least hint at a complete story (some sort of action or tension rising to a moment of climax, and at least a clue toward a resolution, though it doesn’t have to be all spelled out).
All fiction genres are acceptable, and stories that don’t fit neatly into any genre are welcome too. While personal experiences and other non-fiction can be great sources of inspiration, please turn them into fiction for us, or send them elsewhere.
Our readership is adult, so children’s stories are unlikely to be accepted unless they are relevant to adults as well. On the other hand, we are not impressed by gratuitous sex and violence, or pointlessly foul language; edgy content should be necessary and appropriate to the plot and characters.
It ought to go without saying that any story submitted to Every Day Fiction must be your own unpublished original creation. If you publish a story on a blog, even your own personal blog, or any website accessible to the general public (i.e., if the story can be found and read online without a password or friend status or other limitation), it is considered published and therefore inappropriate for our market.
Since we do not have the time or resources to manage copyright permissions, please do not send us works with quoted song lyrics. You may use song titles and the names of composers, lyricists, and/or performers, and you may paraphrase or refer to the song lyrics, but we are unable to publish stories with directly quoted song lyrics unless they are in the public domain (written before 1920).
We will not publish stories which feature living public figures as characters, although referencing them (e.g., in terms of a concert/event/sighting) is acceptable. Historical/deceased public figures are acceptable as characters. We do not publish fan fiction and will not publish stories which feature non-original characters, although referencing them (e.g., in a film, as a toy, etc.) is fine, and historical/cultural/legendary characters which are clearly not the property of a single creator (e.g., Santa Claus, King Arthur) are also permissible.
All stories must be submitted through Submittable — we cannot accept stories via email or snail mail.
Our maximum response time is 90 days. If for any reason you believe that we have held your story without a response past 90 days, please contact us so we can look into it. We will, of course, do our best to keep our average response time as low as possible; we are currently averaging ? days.
Multiple Submissions & Simultaneous Submissions
We ask that you have no more than three stories in our submission process at any one time. If you have three stories submitted to the regular queue and wish to submit an additional one to the calendar-specific queue for the upcoming month, please query first.
Unfortunately, we do not take simultaneous submissions; please give us 90 days’ exclusive consideration of your story.
We believe in the importance of being paid for your writing, even if it’s only a token amount. At this time, we are able to offer three dollars (US$3) for each published story, to be paid via PayPal, with the option to donate it back to Every Day Fiction if you are so inclined.
More importantly, publication also includes an opportunity to promote your writing beyond Every Day Fiction. We will gladly provide a link to your blog or website, and if you have a book on Amazon, we can link to that as well.
Via: Every Day Fiction’s Submittable.