Claire – Hi Don! Great to chat with you. Let’s jump right in. What are you currently writing/working on?
Don – Thanks, Claire. Really nice to meet you. And thanks, too, for the opportunity to talk with The Horror Tree. I’m working on a novel, ‘Dark Voices,’ and also serving as editor for ‘The Thirty,’ a group consisting of me and 29 other writers. We’re lashing together an experimental novel, ‘He Has Stayed Too Long,’ with one chapter written by each of us. I honestly thought ‘Dark Voices’ would be out by now, but ‘He Has Stayed Too Long’ is taking quite a bit of time, as you can imagine. Coordinating with 29 other writers isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be although everybody involved has been fantastic.
Claire – Tell me about your latest release, ‘Fallen Angels.’
Don – The artist Don Gilbert and I have been good friends since we were in our teens. He came by the house one day to drink whiskey and play guitar and as I was flipping through his sketch pad, I was drawn to a series of bizarre-looking drawings. When I asked him what they were, he said, ‘Fallen Angels’ and we took it from there. ‘Fallen Angels’ are the creatures responsible for every aspect of our lives down to the most insignificant events. Lose a button? A Fallen Angel’s responsible. First kiss? A Fallen Angel’s there. Final breath? Yep—a Fallen Angel. The poems I wrote to accompany the illustrations tell the reader a bit about the particular part of life the Fallen Angel on the opposing page controls and also a bit about how that angel feels about his job.
Claire – Your journals ‘The Meeker Collection’ sound interesting. How did/does your newspaper writing affect your fiction?
Don – Oddly enough, most of my newspaper pieces were in the humour vein and most of my fiction is dark horror. While I was working as the editor of ‘The Wilson County Advocate,’ I wrote a column under a pseudonym every week, usually an entire page, and because I was so completely bored with actual news, I would take the facts, bundle them with fiction, insert my alter-ego into the story, toss in a bit of biographical folderol, and just have a good time with it. The fan mail and the death threats began to pour in (some people have NO sense of humour) and soon ‘Jimmy Joe Meeker’ (that was the name I used) was the most popular writer we had. Once you start writing humour, you can’t stop. There’s a comedian inside me and he’s going to come out whether I’m writing a non-fiction piece for a magazine or writing a horror novel. I enjoy that. Everybody needs a laugh now and again, regardless of what you’re reading, and I’ve never been able to write anything without tossing in a bit of humour, however subtle.
Claire –Tell me about your writing process. Where do you write? When do you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
Don – When the muse visits me, I’m like a man possessed. I’ll write 5,000 words in a day, getting up every hour to spend 5 minutes on the recumbent bicycle so I don’t forget how to walk—but the muse doesn’t visit daily. I don’t force anything because I don’t think, for example, that making yourself write 1,000 words a day is going to get you quality results. There are going to be days when you’re not on, days when you’ve got other things on your mind. Yeah, it’s a job, and it’s a difficult job, but you have to enjoy it. Readers are smart folks—they know if you didn’t enjoy what you wrote and forcing yourself to write when you don’t have the spark is not an enjoyable experience for the reader OR the writer. Having said that, though, my works-in-progress are always on my mind and it’s rare a day goes by when I don’t work. I’m up early. I grab a mug of black coffee, plop myself down in my office, fire up the computer, and I’m off to the races. I use a two-monitor set-up which I find really helps when I have to research something, but I’m still torn about that because I’ve caught myself getting distracted. My office is where my guitar collection hangs and it’s much too easy to be able to grab one when I stumble onto another guitar player on YouTube demonstrating a song I always wanted to learn. It’s easy to be lazy.
Claire – Tell me about your novels ‘Pandemonium,’ ‘Phantom Dead Man,’ and ‘Sarcophagus.’ Where did the inspiration come from?
Don – ‘Pandemonium’ was my first novel and the inspiration came from several old buildings in Lebanon, Tennessee. Spooky, creepy old buildings—McClain School and the Lebanon Hotel. Late one night I went into the Lebanon Hotel—just walked right in—and took a tour of the place. After leaving, I drove to the abandoned school building and found it unlocked, so I took a moonlight tour of it, too. I got home at 2 a.m. and immediately began ‘Pandemonium,’ a story about an incubus in a small, Tennessee town. ‘Phantom Dead Man’ was an experiment in stream of consciousness and it arose from having too much on my plate. I was going to graduate school, working on two horror stories with deadlines looming, writing a how-to piece for a craftsman journal, working on a documentary for public television, and outlining a novel. I sat down one day with all these things whirling around in my head and I just started writing whatever popped in there. The book had a wildly opposing reception; readers either liked it or hated it—there was no middle of the road. ‘Sarcophagus’ came about after a trip to New Orleans. I’ve always been fascinated by the above-ground graveyards there and during that visit, I saw several tombs in St. Louis Cemetery #3 with gaping holes in them large enough for a person to squeeze through—and all the holes looked as if they were made by something pushing out, rather than in. ‘Sarcophagus’ was started on a legal pad the moment I got back to my hotel room.
Claire – Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have a writing ritual?
Don – Most of my inspiration comes from things I see; very little of it comes strictly from imagination. When I see something that triggers a “What if…?” I take out my phone and click a picture of it, but I’m also very old school. I carry a small, brown, leather notebook with me all the time and I’ll scribble the beginnings of the story in there. Once I’m back in the office, I open a document, type my notes into the document, write the first line or first few lines of the story, and save it in a working directory for later. That’s how I keep up with ideas these days and it’s much handier than shuffling through stacks of paper.
Claire – You received some great reviews for ‘Fallen Angels,’ most compliments enjoying the mixture of creepy and humorous. Do you often blend writing styles?
Don – Ha! Yes, the ‘Fallen Angels’ are just like us—some of them are funny, some are sarcastic, some are pricks, and some take themselves way too seriously. I do blend writing styles, though, and I do it with a purpose. Too much of anything is too much. In horror, you need a funny character—not laugh out loud funny, but observationally witty and self-deprecating. When you ask readers to suspend disbelief, you’re asking a lot, so having a character or a scene that’s something amusing out of real life helps the unbelievable become believable.
Claire – Tell me about your chapbooks. I see they were penned in the ‘80’s. Has your writing style changed since then?
Don – My style hasn’t changed all that much, but my focus has changed. I’ve moved away from poetry to fiction mainly because it suits me better. Poetry will drive a person nuts. I have two pieces in the newly released ‘Speculations’ edited by my friend Frank Coffman and I bled over those two poems like I’d been beaten with chains. Thirty lines of poetry and I spent weeks on them. I love poetry; it’s the easiest thing to do poorly, the most difficult thing to do well, and not many people seem to know the difference anymore. Hearing “I don’t like poetry” from people who’ve barely read any is painful, so although I continue to do it, I don’t publish much of it, not even in chapbooks. I still contribute to anthologies but chapbooks seem to be becoming a bit passé. I hope that’s not true, but it’s the impression I get lately.
Claire – Tell me about your avant-garde project ‘The Thirty.’ Who did you work with?
Don – I got this wild idea that it would be very cool to read a horror novel where each chapter was written by a different author; where each author could take the story in whatever direction they wanted. After turning the idea over in my head for a few weeks, I approached the writing community on Twitter with the concept and the response was fantastic. Within just a day or two, I had 35 people on board and the mix was as eclectic as you can get. We have well-known horror authors, we have noteworthy book reviewers, we have bloggers, and we have horror aficionados who’ve always wanted to try their hand at writing but never have. Using some very basic calculations for word count, and realizing we’d lose some participants along the way, I decided on 30 chapters, wrote the first one, and sent it out. The next author in line wrote their chapter, sent it back, and it took off from there. We’re on Chapter 18 now and I’ve been pleasantly surprised, especially at the writing from newcomers—people who’ve never written fiction in their lives. It’s been an amazing, exciting experience. If I mention everybody involved we’ll be here all day, but I do want to say that the “name brand authors” on board have all been extremely generous in lending credibility to the project. We have new writers who still cannot believe they’ve got a chapter adjacent to Jonathan Janz or Chris Sorenson or D.W. Gillespie. This speaks volumes to the support and camaraderie present in the horror community.
Claire –Let’s learn more about you. Who is your favourite author and why?
Don – Wow… It’s incredibly difficult to pick just one, but though it may be cliché, I’m going with the master. If it weren’t for Stephen King, I don’t know what we’d all be reading and writing now. Stephen King took a genre that had been marginalized for two centuries and with raw talent, dragged it into the mainstream and kept it there. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I think King is the greatest horror writer who’s ever lived. Sure, he misses the mark sometimes—everyone does—but when it comes to the most important thing in fiction, which is story—story—story, he can pull it off 99% of the time.
Claire – Do you get writer’s block? If so, what do you do to overcome it?
Don – I get writer’s block from time to time, but I have the greatest remedy—I grab my Gibson SG, plug it into a Marshall amplifier, and play along with Pete Townshend while The Who blasts “Won’t Get Fooled Again” over the sound system. It works every single time. The neighbours probably don’t care much for it, but most of them have “real” jobs so they aren’t home during the day anyway.
Claire – Writers are weird, right? What’s the strangest/most interesting thing about you?
Don – Most people would never guess, especially from my politics, that I was a United States Army Chief Warrant Officer for 26 years.
Claire – What’s on the horizon for you?
Don – I hope to see ‘Dark Voices’ published by year’s end and also see ‘He Has Stayed Too Long’ wrapped up by then. I’ve got an idea brewing for another book featuring the most terrifying monsters known to humankind: babies.
Claire – And finally, you’re stuck on an island with only one book. What’s the book?
Don – US Army Field Manual 21-76, ‘Survival, Escape, and Evasion’ along with Stephen King’s magnum opus: ‘The Stand.’ Thanks for your questions, Claire—it’s been a genuine pleasure.
Amazon page: http://amazon.com/author/dongillette
Syntax & Salt publishes one regular issue a season. We are open to general submissions year round, with the following publication dates in 2019:
- March 20
- June 21
- September 22
- December 21
Here is how you win our hearts and minds:
- Speculative fiction with a literary bent (please see our Read This page for ideas on what we tend to like.)
- Science Fiction that doesn’t blame technology for the fall of humanity
- Fantasy that takes advantage of the genre and eschews easy tropes
- We especially want to see and publish a lot more work by BIPOC and LGTBQIA people
- Stories that take up 3500 words or less
- Edited, polished manuscripts
- Old stories told in a new way
- New stories told in an old way
- Sad endings that don’t rely on gimmicks or shock value
- Happy endings that hurt a little bit
- Beautiful prose and well developed plot
Deadline: June 30th, 2019
Payment: $5 per printed page
Are you queerly hilarious?
Well, prove it!
Seeking humorous original work by and/or about LGBTQ+ people and lives. This is a positive publication celebrating the LGBTQ+ community through the lens of humor. Only pieces supporting this mission will be considered. No homophobic, transphobic or hateful material will be considered.
This premiere edition of our first LGBTQ+ humor anthology will be published in print & ebook. It will be made available in paperback on Amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, QommunicatePublishing.com and wherever books are sold (available to booksellers and libraries through Ingram.) Ebook versions will be compatible with the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows devices in addition to PDF and other downloadable formats and web-viewable formats.
Please read the following submission guidelines carefully before submitting your work to Funny Queer. If you have any questions not answered below, please write us at [email protected] and we will be happy to answer.
Humor by and/or about LGBTQ+ people. The only criteria is it makes us laugh!
Anything meeting the theme, including:
- Comics/graphic shorts (black and white only).
- Short scripts.
We will NOT consider:
- Work written for children
- Prose: up to 3,500 words
- Poetry: Up to 3 pages
- Comics & Scripts: up to 10 pages
These length recommendations are flexible.
- All submissions must be typed. No handwritten submissions will be accepted.
- If you send your submission in, please do NOT mail us your only copy of your work. We can not be responsible for returning submissions.
- Multiple submissions (submissions of more than one work) are fine. Send us what you’ve got!
- Simultaneous submissions (submitting work you’ve already submitted–or are planning on submitting–elsewhere) are fine too.
- Please just be sure that if your submission gets accepted elsewhere, you contact us at [email protected] to withdraw it from consideration for More Queer Families: A LGBTQ+ True Stories Anthology.
- Reprints will NOT be considered.
- We are seeking First English Anthology Rights and First World Anthology Rights in print and ebook formats.
- NOTE: These rights only allow the material to be used in the anthology and its reprints, and the writer retains all rights to their work not specified here (i.e. in the contract), including copyright to their work.
- We are also seeking, for all material, Non-exclusive Excerpt Rights (for the purposes of promoting the Anthology on the website).
- Contributors of writing will receive, as a humble token of our appreciation, $5 per printed page, and contributors of art will receive $15 per piece.
What to Submit
- Your submission
- A brief bio telling us something about you and (if applicable) any publishing experience
- At least one form of contact information (phone number, email, or mailing address. Please do not give a social media account handle as your only form of contact information.
- IMPORTANT: Pen names are acceptable. However, for contractual purposes, all submissions must also include the author’s legal name.
Where to Submit
Submissions may be emailed to us at: [email protected]
or mailed to us at:
201 Lancelot Lane
Becket, MA 01223
AGAIN, MAILED SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE RETURNED
- We do our best to respond to all submissions within 3 months of receiving them. If you haven’t heard from us in that time, please feel free to reach out.
Payment: 2 cents per word
What Are We Looking For?
We are looking for new original short stories in the speculative fiction genres:
In general, we are interested in strong character driven stories. We do not want stories that have explicit sex or violence, rapists, child abusers, or cannibals in them.
Original Short Fiction
Submissions must be between 1,000-7,500 words.
Stories must be in English.
Payment for original fiction is $.02 per word up to 7,500 words.
Submit your work in Shunn Standard Manuscript Format.
Send your submissions to [email protected]
We do not accept unsolicited reprints.
Rights and Rules
No simultaneous submissions.
We try to respond to all submissions within 30 days.
Via: Legendary Tales.
Deadline: June 6th, 2019
Payment: $25 USD
Please familiarize yourself with our About page to get an idea of what Claw & Blossom are about.
For PROSE, send up to 1,000 words. This can be one piece of flash fiction or CNF, or linked micros.
For POEMS, send one poem per submission.
We do not consider previously-published work. This includes work posted on personal blogs and social media accounts.
We accept and encourage simultaneous submissions. Should your work be accepted elsewhere while under consideration with Claw & Blossom, please withdraw the piece from us as soon as possible by using the Withdraw option in Submittable.
We do not consider multiple submissions. Please submit to either the Poetry category or the Prose category and wait for our response before submitting another piece.
There is no submission fee.
We pay $25 USD per acceptance upon publication via PayPal. (Linked micros are considered one acceptance.)
We publish in March, June, September, and December. We read nearly year-round (the exception being for a two-week period just before each issue is released, so that we can have a little moment to make sure all of our duck-rows are properly quacking, and maybe to drink some hooch).
By submitting your work to Claw & Blossom for consideration, you agree that you understand and accept the following terms:
- That you have actually read our About page, so that you are not sending us work that is wholly incompatible with our stated goals and thereby making our hair fall out in clumps.
- That the work you send Claw & Blossom is of your own making and has not been plagiarized in whole or in part.
- That Claw & Blossom are purchasing the rights to publish your work on our website and to archive that work in our Issues archive.
If your work published with Claw & Blossom is later reprinted elsewhere, we would appreciate acknowledgement of first publication.
We accept submissions through Submittable:
Via: Claw And Blossom.
soft surface primarily publishes work by women, LGBTQIA, gnc folks, BIPOC, and/or otherwise marginalized voices. submissions are always open, but please don’t submit more than once every 6 months. send all queries and submissions to [email protected]
simultaneous submissions accepted. please be in touch if your work is accepted elsewhere. soft surface does not accept previously published work in any capacity. all accepted contributors are paid $10. funding is generated through sales at the used bookshop. soft surface has first publishing rights, after which rights return to the writer/artist. if your work is reprinted in the future, please acknowledge first publication in soft surface.
poetry – send 2-5 unpublished poems in a single .pdf. each poem should be on a separate page. please no poems exceeding 2 pages.
visual art – send up to 5 high-quality images. links to short films, sound art, etc. are encouraged.
when submitting, include your pronouns, a short third-person bio, and any relevant links – whatever you’d like published alongside your work, if accepted.
to be considered for digital residency, include the above as well as a detailed description of what you’d like to publish on the site during the residency. if this work is finished, please include it; if it is in-progress, send a description and some sample work. please don’t apply for residency if you have already been a resident or if you have had work published in soft surface in the last 6 months.
poem letter submissions:
to be considered for publication in the monthly newsletter, please send just one poem in a single .pdf, along with the other details about yourself as listed under “journal submissions.”
always interested in collaboration opportunities, or whatever questions you have.
soft surface was founded in 2019 by lindsay costello.
Via: Soft Surface.
Deadline: June 20th, 2019
Send us your yin/yang stories, your tales of good twin/bad twin, your thoughts about anything and everything twinnish, even the astrological sign of Gemini. Stories should contain strong plotlines or strong characters … and be creative. We want our readers to be immersed in each story and invested in each character. You needn’t stick solely to humans. Feel free to write a fairy tale and/or a dark tragedy—or anything in between.
We want stories from 500 to 3,000 words in length, fiction or non-fiction. Uninvited are screenplays. Also uninvited are stories that are publicly available on any website, such as your Facebook page or Wattpad. We will not accept stories with graphic porn (especially the tired twins fantasy), and yes, we’ll know it when we see it. We want YA readers to enjoy the published anthology without parental balking.
Submissions will open on at 12:00:01 a.m. May 21, 2019 and will close at 23:59:59 EST on June 20, 2019. The judges will not read submissions as they arrive; they will begin to read submissions on June 21. You will receive a status notification (rejected or accepted) approximately three months after submissions close (around September 21). Judges will only offer an acceptance or rejection email, without feedback. Along with their thanks for submitting of course, either way.
There Is No Reading Fee
You may submit up to three stories, but we will accept a maximum of two stories per author. We will pay $10 USD via PayPal per story accepted. Contributors will receive one copy of the book electronically (even if two stories are accepted). We will plaster your name around the universe as best we can. In other words, wherever we market the book, publicize the book, or mention the book, the contributing authors’ names will be mentioned. We expect to publish paperbacks and eBooks, which will be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and online. For authors local to Southeast Pennsylvania, we will attempt to provide as much face-time as possible, including book signings.
Submissions must be via Moksha. Do not put your name on your submission, but follow the instructions on the site to ensure your work is attributable to you. Format: Use Word, 12-point font in Georgia, Times New Roman or equivalent, in black ink, and double-spaced (Shunn formatting). If you need a reminder about formatting: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html
Your work should be as perfect as possible prior to submitting. We want to read your best writing. We are editors by trade so grammatical, typographical, and syntactical errors will be glaring to us and will take us out of your story. We will notify you if we feel your story is excellent but could use a few edits, and we will work with you to elevate the writing.
We will accept reprints if you have the rights back; please note in your cover letter if this is a reprint. If you submit your story simultaneously to other markets, you must notify us via email by close of submissions on June 20, 2019 if it has been accepted elsewhere.
We anticipate approximately 120K words in the anthology.
Now the legal jargon: We’re asking for first rights nationally and internationally, but all rights will revert back to you six months after initial publication release. After those six months, you can publish it wherever you like so long as you note that it was first published in our anthology. If for some odd reason the book is not published within 24 months from the date of acceptance (as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,”) we will return first rights to you immediately. Once your story(ies) is/are accepted, you will receive a contract with details of rights and how you get paid. Accepted authors under the age of 18 must get a parent to sign the contract. You will get a galley sheet of your story(ies) prior to printing to ensure that you are a part of this process.
We will accept a maximum of two stories to be published.
Via: Gemini Word Smiths.