Taking Submissions: Gruesome Games

Deadline: September 1st, 2019
Payment: Contributor’s Copy

Thurston Howl Publications is now accepting submissions for its third volume of its HOWLERS series, Gruesome Games.

Deadline: Sept 1, 2019

Word count: 2,500-8,000; a little above and a little below will be acceptable

Games and horror create a delightful combination. Notable cases include the Running Man and The Long Walk (Stephen King), The Hunger Games (Collins), the Saw series, European thriller GAME, Barker’s puzzle boxes, new film Escape Room, and even elements of Jumanji and multiple episodes of Dark Mirror. We want to see a collection of game horror at its finest. For this editor, game horror is best defined as horror literature whose premise hinges on the crux of an established and explicit game. I say explicit because I’m not interested in a horror story where one “could read it as a metaphor for chess.” The characters need to be aware that this is a game with rules (whether they are broken or not).

We will NOT accept:

Racism, sexism, or discrimination presented in a positive light.

Pedophilia or sex with characters under the age of 18 presented in a positive light.

Rape, torture, dubious consent, forced seduction presented in a positive light.

Snuff or Necrophilia presented in a positive light

Bestiality presented in a positive light

If you are in doubt, ASK. Better to ask then to get a straight up rejection! If you are unsure, just shoot me an email at [email protected] (restrictions borrowed from Voice: https://t.co/MWykJ6RY36)

You can submit up to three stories, but we will only accept one per author (if any).

Reprints are fine, but you have to own full permission of the work in order for us to consider it.

We will not accept simultaneous submissions.

Payment: Authors will receive a free copy of the print book.

Send submissions in .doc or .docx format to [email protected]

Title your email with the story title in all caps. If you are sending more than one submission, send multiple emails instead of putting them all in one.

We will inform all authors regarding decisions within a week or two after the deadline.

Via: Thurston Howl Publications.

Serial Killers: Hey! Part 4

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Hey! Part 4

Rest evaded Audrey once again. She’d snatched a few winks sometime between 2:00 and 3:00, but after that she was right back up, still feeling like crap. She decided to try a new tactic: getting out her phone and earbuds, listening to music the rest of the night. She was glad that she was able to hone in on the rhythms and the lyrics, keeping her from thinking of other things (for the most part). But she never went back to sleep.

She lugged herself out of bed come 6:45. And though she slurred when she spoke, and her head lolled about through her calls, she put in another full day. Her pitches were bland, straightforward, but at least she could get the basics across, when someone did bother to answer. She suffered more belligerent customers, more tirades about how “they” needed to quit calling them. And it wore on her. After her final call ended (and despite making a sale) she set her palms to her temples and curled her legs up into her chair. She felt like she was on the verge of tears, of screaming her head off. 

It looked like her shoulders were already slumping.

She couldn’t keep up with this, with work. Not with what she was going through—with all she was trying so hard not to think about. Tomorrow was Friday. Her day off. The weekend was upon her, but she had to put in a few hours every Saturday and Sunday. And right now, feeling how she was, that seemed interminable.

If she had to make another call without a good night’s rest to back it up, she was going to snap. She’d not only sell pans to people, she’d be telling where to snuggly store them.

Her aching eyes eventually glanced over to her corner desk. The afternoon light splayed in from her window, falling upon a jar of pens and pencils, sending shadowy fingers along the wall. The sight of it brought the tiniest bit of ease to her, and she started to consider something.

A few minutes later she’d emailed her boss, requesting vacation time, effective this Saturday and carrying on until the Monday after next. She was entitled to it, and although it was rather short notice, she thought she’d get it. She was a model employee (minus the last two days) and she pushed the ailing father story a tad in her message. She felt a little bad using her perfectly healthy father like that, but honestly, she’d done far worse as of late.

If her boss gave the vacation an okay, she’d use it to get straight, to get some relieving work done on her new book and its art. And after a week off, she’d be back in the swing of things. It sounded good. Best of all, it sounded like it could work. But it all hinged on her getting some blessed sleep again.

Audrey decided she wouldn’t leave it to chance. She changed out of her pajamas and headed downstairs, aiming to drive to the nearest Walgreens. Some NightAid would do the trick. She’d taken it plenty times before, and though it sometimes made her a little loopy, it’d never failed to get her to sleep through the worst headaches or the stuffiest colds. Hell, she’d chug it until she had little dragons flying around her head and saw Pavarotti singing in her shower, if only she could catch some Z’s afterwards.

She got into her Escalade and drove off, winding through the suburbs of Danville and heading towards the small-town bustle of Main Street. The streets were quiet, near-barren, the school buses already finished up with their routes for the day and the nine-to-five folks still an hour off from freedom. The sky was starting to get overcast, dull gray clouds drifting across the sun, looking like a spot of rain was on its way.

After a few blocks, the total stillness of everything began to pester Audrey. She reached for the radio and poked the nub, the sound of electric guitars and thumping drums blaring into the car. It made her jump. Sparing a little laugh at herself, she looked back to the radio, making to turn down the volume. But then the chorus of the song struck up; hearing it sent a chill along her hand, staying it along with the rest of her.

It was “Help!” by the Beatles.

Audrey felt as though she slipped out of herself in that moment. She hung there in the car, the loud music becoming muffled to her distant ears and the feel of the wheel just a vague sensation in her clinched hand. She finally snapped back when she saw something appear in her windshield, emerging from her peripherals. She looked back ahead and felt a scream catch in her chest.

Marcy Houghton stood in the street, staring straight at Audrey as the Escalade barreled towards her.

Audrey swore and jammed her foot on the brake, her other hand shooting back to the wheel, the tires beneath her screeching as they ground against the pavement. Her seatbelt constricted along her chest as she lurched forward, the car finally stopping as she waited for a harsh thump to sound out.

It didn’t. Audrey flung back her hair, looking ahead again.

A little girl stood only a couple feet away from the Escalade’s nose, but it wasn’t Marcy Houghton. Not by a long shot. Only her head was visible from over the hood, her face gone pale and slack in dumbfounded amazement.

The little girl blinked and slowly stepped back from the nose of the car as a shrill voice rose up loud and clear, even against the Beatles. “Jenna Marie!” 

Audrey saw an elderly woman shuffling her way into the street from the front yard off to the right. Her features were caught in a mixture of fear and fury. “I told you to never run into the street!” The woman, perhaps the girl’s grandmother, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up against her hip, leading her quickly away. She glared back at Audrey as they went. “And you need to pay some damned attention!”

Audrey would’ve shouted back a sincere apology, but she couldn’t speak. She could hardly even move. She just sat there for a minute, the Beatles still singing, still pleading. 

What the hell had just happened? The question hammered against her skull as she finally, slowly drove off. 

She could have sworn it had been . . .

She saw her. The pigtails. The dark dress, from the photo on the news. The one she was wearing the day Audrey had . . .

But she hadn’t been smiling, not like in the photo. No. She was just standing there, staring . . .

And it hadn’t seemed like some passing spur of imagination. Sure, she was damn tired, but to actually see . . .

Surely she wasn’t that out of it. But if not that, then . . . ?

Good lord, if she’d braked any later, she would have—

—she would have let another child die.

And with that smack of a realization, Audrey pulled her car over to the curb. She put it in park. She punched the radio off and all was quiet again. It really didn’t help in the least. 

She set her head to the wheel. She cried, choking on apologies that no one heard.

By the time she got back home with her three large bottles of NightAid, Audrey’s boss had emailed her back. He had signed off on her vacation, as she’d expected, and he said he hoped it would be a relaxing one for her. Audrey had just sighed bitterly at that and broken open a bottle of the clear-pink medication, taking a big swig of it. She didn’t give a damn about measuring it out. Then she fell into bed, leaving her street-clothes on. 

She slept. Sort of.

She managed to get in four hours’ worth, which at this point was a victory she would gladly take. But when she woke up to the nighttime, and those thoughts started to creep back in like an evening tide, she ached for more slumber. She took another hit of the NightAid, but it took a bit longer for it to kick in.

And that was the pattern of her weekend, with little else for variety: guzzle and sleep, wake and lament, rinse and repeat. She missed a call from her sister; Dana texted her shortly after, to say she’d be stopping by later in the week to drop off a piece of crockery she’d bought for Audrey at some sale. Harland Poole had tried getting in touch with her, too. Multiple times. He left voicemails that Audrey never bothered to listen to. She wasn’t up for getting her ass kissed by him, or for any of his passive pushing to hurry it up with the new book.

By Monday she was in moderately better spirits—at least, a damn sight better than she had been—and she had caught just enough rest to function somewhat properly. The nights were still a bit rough and long, and the daytime hours became her go-to chance to nap. 

Come Tuesday, she was finally intent on getting some writing and drawing done, or whichever she could manage. Her hand was a little shaky, and her thoughts still dove in and out of order—maybe from all that medication she’d consumed, maybe from her still-troubled sleep—but she forced herself to get a go on her new project. She tried to get some character profiles down first. Figuring out their intricacies before she wrote their story. It ended up consuming the whole day, minus a few choice breaks to the bathroom or to stare at the walls in encroaching defeat. A few good tidbits came to her, but for the most part it was just uninspired drivel. The same warmed-over crap she’d seen in countless kid’s books. For every idea she halfway liked there were five she tossed out, scratching her pen across her notepad in frustration.

Eventually, she decided that a bit of unconsciousness sounded better than toiling at something that just wouldn’t come. She took another hit and lay down. It took a couple grueling hours, but she eventually dozed off.

When she woke up (for good, that was) it was Wednesday afternoon, and she thought she’d give some sketching a shot. If her character’s personalities wouldn’t come to her, maybe their likenesses, at least, would. She’d set herself at her corner desk and got to it. She drew and colored in what started at a slow, deliberate pace, getting a feel for what she pictured in her mind—but as the hours passed, it switched into a furious flurry of paper and frantic curses. There was a blockade between her thoughts and her hand, the lines she drew growing more and more crooked, her shading just sloppy, every little thing she put to paper looking like a half-rate grade schooler’s doodles. Half a notebook’s worth of paper ended up crumpled or torn, tossed into her wastebasket or left on her table to clutter. Some bore the soggy marks of tears, which Audrey hadn’t even been aware of shedding—not until she was just putting down erratic swoops and zig-zags, with no meaning to them beyond loosing her angst. 

Her worn pencil eventually snapped in her hand, her grip a vice. She’d been clenching it between throbbing fingers. She cradled her arm and stared at her fingers awhile, as though recognizing them for the first time, their skin now red and angry. Another break quickly followed, one that was felt only in Audrey’s mind; she pushed herself away from her desk, pens rattling and falling to the floor.

She went for the NightAid, finishing off the second bottle. She threw herself into bed and screamed into the mattress.

Patrick Winters

Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, The Sirens Call, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles.

You can find him at:

http://wintersauthor. azurewebsites.net/Pages/Home

https://m.facebook.com/ patrickwintersauthor/



Taking Submissions: Mythical Girls

Deadline: August 1st, 2019
Payment: Contributor’s copy, potentially pay as well depending on Kickstarter.
Note: Sorry for the short turnaround, this just hit my inbox!

You may remember a year or so back a girl found ‘Excalibur’ in Britain, in Dozmary Pool (where the Lady of the Lake lives), you may also remember a few months ago, another girl found a sword in Norway, which immediately made me think of Sigmund’s sword Gramr. This all got me wondering what other mythic weapons might be out there. Turns out there are a lot. So of course I had to wonder what happened if girls around the globe started finding these magical weapons.

I tossed out the idea to a couple of forums and got a huge response. So of course those stories have to be written. This is where you come in.

I’m looking for stories about those girls.

Let me start off by saying, do not use Excalibur. If you want to mention Excalibur, it is found by a girl named Aggie Farrier, a school girl who lives in council estate outside of London.

There are a huge number of other objects It doesn’t have to be a sword. Here’s a list to get you started:


Be creative. A knife or ring from Asia could find its way into a house in North America. Some research will turn up other possibilities. A word about cultural appropriation, be sensitive about things like whether your object is still important to a group of people, do your research, if in doubt, maybe use something different. I would love to see lots of multicultural stories.

The story needs to be about what happens when a girl finds some mythical object. I’m more interested in the aftermath than the finding, so don’t’ spend most of your story on how they get together. After that it is up to you. There could be a god wanting attention again, or a dwarf being a troublemaker (that happens a lot in Norse mythology) It could be she stubs her toe on it. How does it change her life, the life of the people around her. That’s the story I want.

Keep it PG. I will leave it up to you what age ‘girl’ is.

So to nuts and bolts:

I’m going to ask for stories between 3000 and 6000 words, they can’t have been published previously. Please no simultaneous submissions. And only one story per author. The number of stories I take will depend on how many I get and what lengths they are. I will aim for around the 90-100k total word count.

Each contributor will get an author’s copy, and the right to order addition books at cost plus shipping. I plan on running a kickstarter campaign to raise money to pay for the stories, but there will also be costs for proof-reading and cover design. Supporting the kickstarter will make no difference in how I read the stories.

The deadline for submission is August 1, 2019. I will contact the people selected for the anthology after December 31st. My goal is a tentative publication date of June 1, 2020.

For the anthology I will be asking for first publication rights, and exclusive rights for one year from the publication date. After that you can publish your work somewhere else.

How to Submit:

Email me your story in either .doc or .docx format. Stories in the body of the email won’t be read.

Times New Roman 12pt font, one inch margins, double spaced. In other words, standard submission format. Put your name, pen name if you use one (and tell me which is which), address, email on the front page along with the title and word count. Then put name/page number in the top right header of each page.

In the subject line put Submission Mythical Girls and the title of the story.

In the email, give me any relevant information about your writing career. Email me at thecelticfrog(at)gmail.com.

Don’t send me your first draft. Take your time, edit, revise, polish. Expect there to be more editing if your story is chosen.

Via: Alex McGilvery.

Taking Submissions: Electric Spec November Issue 2019

Deadline: October 15th, 2019
Payment: $20 per story

Please don’t query us about your story submission. We don’t have the manpower to answer such queries. An editor will email you back as soon as possible with the decision about your story. This can take a few days, or, up to three months. We make every effort to get back to authors in a timely manner but we get a lot of submissions so sometimes it’s not possible.

A note on our editorial policy: before publication we may edit the story for length or readability. However, we always remain true to the spirit of the story.

Issues are published at the end of February, May, August, and November. We reserve the right to shift publication date slightly, as necessary.

We have reading periods for each issue, though we never close to submissions.

February closes January 15

May closes April 15

August closes July 15

November closes October 15

Please do not submit the same story more than once, and please submit only one story at a time.

We consider any story between 250 and 7000 words with speculative fiction elements. We prefer science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre, but we’re willing to push the limits of traditional forms of these genres.

We do not consider poetry, stories with over-the-top sex or violence, serials, novels, fan fiction, or non-fiction. We don’t accept multiple submissions; in other words, only submit one story at a time and wait for a response before submitting another. We accept simultaneous submissions as long as you let us know up front and tell us as soon as it’s accepted elsewhere. We do not publish reprints, including anything that has appeared on a website.

We pay $20 for each story we publish. We buy first-printing world exclusive rights for four months. Payment will be made shortly after publication using PayPal. We encourage our authors to establish a PayPal account if they don’t already have one.

We prefer to read submissions in traditional manuscript format. This means indented paragraphs instead of left justification, and Courier or Times New Roman font in 12 pt, double-spaced. Also, please include the title, your name, address, and word length on the first page of your story.

To submit your story to Electric Spec, e-mail it as an attachment in Rich Text Format (RTF) to submissions at electricspec (dot) com. Use the following subject line: SUBMISSION:Story Title by Author’s Name (Word Count). In the body of the e-mail, include writing credits, if any, and the word count of the story. With the proliferation of viruses on the Internet, we do not open attachments unaccompanied by a cover letter.

Because we are a quarterly magazine, it may take us up to three and a half months to make a final decision, but we will let you know if your story is being held for voting. Please note we do not send out messages upon receipt of stories.

If you want to withdraw a story from consideration, please e-mail us at submissions at electricspec (dot) com and include the word WITHDRAW in the subject line. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail us at our submissions address and include the word QUERY in the subject line.


Ongoing Submissions: Mortal Realm – New Worlds (Sci-Fi)

Payment: $20 minimum for fiction, $10 minimum for reprints. The payment structure isn’t overly clear and will depend on the length and their take on how compelling the story is.
Note: Reprints allowed.

Generally, it takes us two weeks to respond to submissions. This can be extended by holidays and a large backlog. Please allow up to four weeks for a reply.
Additionally, we may be interested in a piece for an anthology we’ve yet to announce. So accepted work may not be published for over a year.
  • We are looking for short stories for one of our 3 monthly anthologies/eZines. General theme is “New Worlds”, Adventure, and Death. With each release having a narrower focus.
  • We prefer stories that are at least 5,000 words. But will accept stories that are between 2,500 and 25,000 words.
  • We love all types of Fantasy, SciFi, and Horror.
  • No erotica. Must be generally acceptable for a 14+ audience.
  • No abstract, absurd, or non-conventional narrative styles.
  • We are accepting previously published short stories.
  • Multiple submissions are fine.
  • Manuscripts must be complete and edited.
  • We provide payment for an accepted story based on a number of factors.
  • Payments are roughly 3 months after acceptance. Check or PayPal.
  • We are looking for non-exclusive world-wide rights to sell and distribute digitally.

Via: Mortal Realm.

Taking Submissions: Trigger Warning

Deadline: February 28th, 2020
Payment: $5

Trigger Warning is our annual celebration of upsetting stories. Each year we choose a theme and ask for your grossest, most violent , most genuinely upsetting stories in your arsenal.

For 2020, our theme is psychosis, specifically we want the most horrendous hallucinations driving the most terrible actions. Stories of the things only the mad can see. Give us the decline of the upstanding member of society into something changed, different and monstrous. Bring our own anxiety to life and make us wonder if the thing we see out of the corner of our eye is real, just the first stages of the end.

  • We will not accept any stories about rape.
  • Racism/Sexism/Bigotry of any form will never be accepted here.
  • Minimum word count is 1500.
  • Double check your grammar and spelling.
  • Format your story correctly.
  • Please submit all stories in DOC/RTF format.
  • We prefer stories that have not been published before.
  • We prefer to avoid multiple and simultaneous submissions.
  • We retain exclusive publishing rights for 12 months.
  • We pay $5.00 for stories
  • Acceptance/Rejection letters will be sent out once submissions are closed.
  • Submissions Will Be Closed Once Enough Stories Are Accepted or On 2/28/20

Via: Madness Heart Press.

Trembling With Fear 07/14/2019

We finally did it! Trembling With Fear’s Year 2 anthology and its companion, More Tales from the Tree have been released into the wild. I hope those of you who’ve ordered them, enjoy revisiting 2018’s tales and if you’ve not yet subbed to TWF, give us a go. Your stories could end up in next years’ editions! The 2019 anthologies are already under construction and I know that the companion book, More Tales will be a much bigger affair going by the number of Unholy Trinities and Serials now scheduled for appearance this year.

Speaking of publications, I’d also like to give TWF writer Robert Allen Lupton, a mention. His book, Through a Wine Glass Darkly is now available on amazon. A collection of short stories and drabbles from across a variety of genres, there should be something for everyone.

I will be AWOL for a few days this weekend as I spend a few days in Derby for Edge-Lit’s gathering of writers. I’m looking forward to listening to a number of authors, including Tim Lebbon (his book, The Silence, is very good). I’ll catch up with emails etc on Monday night if needed, but I know Stuart and Catherine will be checking in regularly, although Stuart has said he’s off on holiday on Sunday. I suggested he write me a to-do list to help him out if needed whilst he was away – oh the things you say without thinking!!

Managed to catch Midsommar the other night. Enjoyed hugely, felt it was a much better film than Hereditary but I would say be careful who you watch it with. Eldest daughter gave it a miss because she wasn’t feeling too good, husband wasn’t really fussed so that left me and my son (who is an adult). However, there is a certain scene in the barn which, whilst it made me laugh, can make parents and children (even adult children!) feel uncomfortable if viewing together. At home, my kids will often say ‘you might want to fast forward this bit, Mum!’.

Now over to Trembling with Fear which starts with Berberoka by Claire Fitzpatrick. Based on a creature from Phillipine mythology (I looked it up), this monster apparently likes to eat humans alive. In this story, its horror has been expanded to include a taste for the male of the species and tragically drives a mother to consider what a mother should never consider. Bravery, tragedy and horror nicely combine to give us a creature story with a difference. Remember to think beyond the standard tropes when submitting, dive into cryptozoology and see what you can come up with to entertain us anew.

All three drabbles this week have an ‘ugh’ moment.

Extraction by Gary Hazlewood makes you cringe from the start, he only has to mention the words enamel and blood in the same sentence and so creates visions of dentistry so many of us loathe. He continues in cheerfully gruesome manner and doesn’t let even a little(!) mistake phase him.

The Captive by Scarlet Berry brings a whole new meaning to dinnertime, another good example of showing, not telling.

Growth by Elizabeth Smyth features one of the most disgusting creatures ever created and it’s that imagery created by not telling that makes it a worthwhile read.

I’d also like to say thank you to those who wished me a Happy 4th July. Sadly being in the UK this is not celebrated but it made me feel a part of the American family 🙂

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

As Steph had already mentioned, we’ve released the anthologies! You should really check them out!

While we’re open to all types of submissions, our primary focus right now is to build up a larger backlog of drabble so if you’ve got some laying about, please do send them in! If you haven’t had to work on any 100-word stories as of late, by all means, they can be a great exercise in self-editing.

Side note: We’re in the process of reworking our acceptances and one key part of short story acceptances which will be going into effect soon (and is something that I believe you’ll enjoy!)

Also, what Steph REALLY means about our 4th of July celebration but is too polite to say…

Of course, I kid! If she actually felt that way she would shout it from the rooftops! 😉

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Berberoka

For fear of the Berberoka, the village closed its eyes. In the mornings, the weeping widows would wash the bloodstains from the walls and retile the roofs, and the children would continue to play as though the Berberoka hadn’t swallowed their fathers the night before. 

I looked out the kitchen window. A dark, crumbly cloud moved across the sky, settling about the village low and full, as though it might burst at any moment. The hours passed, and the light became dark, and I went outside to tend to my little garden. I liked to garden at night, when the world was asleep, and I could whisper my secrets to my plants. Over time, the wind grew stronger, thick and crisp, its fingers stroking my skin with unpleasant intimacy. No moon. No stars. Just the wind whipping around me, thick like clots of custard, as I thought of what lay ahead.

As a child, my mother told me stories of the Berberoka, how they would rise from the swamps and capture the fishermen, never to be seen again. Before he was swallowed, my uncle would tell me of ferocious land animals; lions, wild coyotes, wolves once frequented my nightmares. But they could not compare to the ferocity of the Berberoka.

After saying goodnight to my plants, I went inside and closed the window. The village had not yet awoken the Berberoka’s hunger. Yet soon, we would hear her voice, surprisingly soft, like a question. Will you let me in? I feel I am turning into a fierce person, a monk, tasked to protect the villagers. Many of the women refused to even look at me in the street. My father had been the only known survivor. My father knew of the horrors, though refused to utter a single word. Only I knew my father’s secrets. I imaged what I felt was akin to an insomniac’s thoughts: that only I endured this burden. But he would talk to no one but myself. I cannot even begin to describe the horror, he would fervently whisper when he called on me. Waves of fear spread through my body, filling with a bizarre sense of guilt and confusion, as though I have committed some act of crime. He’d grab my shoulders and stare into my eyes. Her hold on me lingers like old scars. She will not let me be. He would utter no more on the subject, provide no clue as to the horrors he’d witnessed, or how he’d escaped. He had become the madman of the village, avoided like the plague. He trusted only me.

The Berberoka left more than blood and bone as she passed through the village. She left weeping mothers and grieving fathers. Heartbroken husbands and a silence that lingered longer and longer every day. Yet I remained fierce. I compressed my lips. My father was the same way. Fierceness and resilience can be seen around his mouth. Only his eyes and the fearful attitudes of the villagers betrayed him.

I had been alone in the world for many months now, save for the erratic company of my father. But he provided little comfort. The other mothers glanced at me as they passed me in the market. Who will care for her now her husband is gone? They whispered. Has she taken a lover? I wondered if they pitied or scorned me. His disappearance hadn’t been noted as anything out of the ordinary. The Berberoka took the men as they pleased, preying on them as they fished, sucking up the river water and drowning them without mercy, leaving nothing but an empty fishing boat and their lifeless bodies floating down the stream. The women would collect the men and hang pieces of their clothing over their fireplaces like morbid religious artefacts. Some even knelt in front of their fireplaces and prayed. For what, I did not know. For their husbands to return? Or for their unborn child to be female? And what of their living male children? Did they pray for them, too?

I sat at the kitchen table and pressed my hands to my stomach. I could leave this place, but she would follow. She always followed. No one in the village escaped. She sensed unborn children. She knew if they were male or female. I could not take that chance. I could not birth a child only to see it slaughtered. I could not condemn my child to death. I was not a monster.

The moon hung full in the sky. It sat and watched, and it waited.  

Tonight, I would run a bath, and the Berberoka would return. I would press my hand to my swollen stomach and ingest the herbs that would stillborn my child. I would not birth a boy. She would be there to witness.


Claire Fitzpatrick

Claire Fitzpatrick is an award-winning author of speculative fiction and non-fiction. She won the 2017 Rocky Wood Award for Non-Fiction and Criticism. She has been a panellist at Conflux and Continuum. Called ‘Australia’s body horror specialist’ by Peter Kirk, editor of Breach magazine, and ‘Australia’s queen of body horror’ by Gavin Chappel, editor of Schlock! magazine, she enjoys writing about anatomy and the darker sides of humanity. Her debut collection ‘Metamorphosis’ will be published by IFWG Australia in 2019. She lives in Brisbane. Visit her at www.clairefitzpatrick.net


Tapping the pliers vigorously against the tray I managed to shake free the last remnants of enamel. I removed blood-soaked rubber gloves before ejecting the tape recording.

Standing back I admired my work. It’d taken longer than usual but I’d finally extracted it.

A bloodshot eye watched me leaving the room. Barely a breath escaped his exhausted body.

“That’s one resilient bastard but here it is,” I gloated, handing over the tape recording.

“Bit of a problem,” mumbled the Boss. “Wrong guy!”

“Shit,” I replied, producing a small bag of bloody fingers. “You’d better dispose of these as well, then!”

Gary Hazlewood

With two novels to his name and when not watching soccer Gary enjoys writing short horror tales. He lives a hectic family life outside of a small town in the north of England.


“If you think about slugs too much, you’ll start leaving a slime trail.”

Lisa laughed. “I’ll think about slugs all weekend. By Monday, we’ll know if it’s true.”

When Lisa arrived on Monday, her shoes were sticking to the carpet.

“Trying not to think about… you-know-what… it’s impossible,” she fretted. “And the worse it gets, the more I think about them.”

Lisa wasn’t at work the next day.

On Wednesday, I broke into her house. I stood in the kitchen, calling her name. The ceiling groaned, and I looked up to see something oozing through a crack in the plaster.

Elizabeth Smyth

Elizabeth Smyth is a writer and narrative designer based in London. She specialises in interactive fiction, creepy fiction, and creepy interactive fiction. Find her at http://elizabethsmyth.com or tweeting about slime at https://twitter.com/untiltheygo.

The Captive

At first, I refused to eat. I was revolted by what my captors called food. But as the gnawing in my stomach grew, I was desperate to eat something. I gingerly picked up the piece of raw meat and tasted it. It was disgusting and made me retch. I forced myself to eat it anyway.


Six months have passed. Today, my captors announced that it is my turn to feed their prisoners. As they pull out their knives, I realize whom I’ve been eating and what I am about to become. I scream, “God forgive me!” as they move closer.

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She is a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, and loves to laugh; both evilly and happily.

The Western Wall of Slatim

Dean looked west over the wall protecting the Kingdom of Slatim.

Nothing ever came from that direction.

Yet here he was stationed.

It was the safest job in the Kingdom.

It was also the most boring.

Dean yearned for the excitement of battle.

He had wished for something different for years.

As night fell the shadows surrounded Dean.

Only, something hid within the darkness.

Scaling the walls by sheer numbers, a goblin horde was upon him.

Their daggers were piercing the knight as he pulled his sword.

With his dying breath Dean wondered why he ever thought war was glamorous.

Stuart Conover

Part Man. Part Machine. Part Mongoose. All Writer. Stu moonlights as an IT worker, editor of this site, and writer for ScienceFiction.com but what really gets him up in the morning is being able to put pen to paper. Or, perhaps, finger to keyboard. Share in his adventures of rocketships, knights, wizards, and terrors from the abyss as he creates silly new things for you to read!

The Horror Tree Presents…an Interview with A. Giacomi

Selene – Welcome to The Horror Tree, and thank you for agreeing to “chat” with us today! First, tell us a bit about yourself.


A.G. – I’m always excited to chat with fellow horror fans. I guess I’ve always been a horror geek at heart. I love all things Halloween inspired and writing scary stories just comes naturally to me. Other than loving creepy things, I also have two tiny humans who keep me very busy and I also teach! I have written a four-book series called The Zombie Girl Saga and have written several short stories which I’m equally proud of. When I’m not writing, teaching or spending time with my family, you can always find me reading something, doodling or painting. Let’s see, what else can I share…I’m Canadian, I’m a bit of a goofball, I’m slightly obsessed with nail polish, all things Marvel Comics and Tim Burton too!


Selene – How long have you been writing, and why do you prefer (according to your bio) to write horror?


A.G. – I’ve been writing professionally for six years now, but writing has been part of my DNA from the start. I love crafting worlds and characters, I have pages and pages of short stories from my younger days and they weren’t great but they were fun. We all start somewhere right? I love horror because I’m the Halloween loving kid that never grew out of that phase. If you make me choose between watching Evil Dead for the 700th time or The Notebook, I’m going to pick Evil Dead every single time. I love the thrill of horror and sometimes the absolute absurdity of it. Life is all together too serious, so I welcome the absurd, the over-the-top, the thrill of the scare, I don’t really feel that with any other genre. Horror is my happy place as odd as that may sound.


Selene – What do you like to read, and who are some of your favourite authors?


A.G. – I like to read everything, I’m a bonafide bookworm. If someone recommends a book to me, I am always game to take a look. I don’t turn books away! That being said, I certainly have my favourites. I’m currently in love with V.E.Schwab, Paul Tremblay and Grady Hendrix. Some forever favourites are Anne Rice, Edgar Allan Poe and R.L.Stine, I feel these three have really influenced who I am as an author, it’s an odd mash-up, but if it’s your cup of tea, then we’re already best friends! Ha!


Selene – You work in almost every type of writing: novels, short stories, poetry, YA, and you even dabble in visual arts. What form of creative expression do you like best—I know it’s hard to choose, but say you had to give up all but one, which would it be?


A.G. – Oh wow! That’s a really hard question! I have a giant book filled with quickly written poems and a sketch book just as large with doodles, I think self expression is so important, even if it’s just for your eyes only. I would really hate to give up any, but gun to my head, I think I would need to keep short stories in my life, I love the quick build of suspense and either ending it with something completely shocking or leaving you wondering for ages. There’s a bit of magic in the art of the tease and short stories are just that.


Selene – Your website, poeticzombie.com, is full of zombies, and you mention that you love zombies. The (Trope? Genre? Archetype?) of “Zombie” has been popular for decades, and a few years ago there was a boom with The Walking Dead and other movies and TV shows. Why do you love zombies so much, and why do you think they have such mass appeal?


A.G. – I get asked this a lot, “why zombies?” I know they’re not everybody’s cup of tea but they’re just so versatile. You have endless amounts of creativity with them. There’s the mindless flesh eaters, the infected, the cursed, the impossibly fast and strong, the immune, or my personal favourite the ones you sympathize with. I love that you can’t quite hate zombies, they used to be people, people that were loved, had families, had lives. People yell at their screens telling protagonists to “kill the zombies” but if that zombie was once your mom, or your brother, or your best friend, could you do it? That complexity speaks levels about being human, we can know the right answer but also disagree with it. Zombies will forever teach us about ourselves and what it really means to be human.


Selene – You also write about vampires, in your story “Aqua Vita,” from Another Beautiful Nightmare. How do you keep such well-traveled, well-known characters as zombies and vampires fresh?


A.G. – First of all, thank you! But if I’m being completely honest, a lot of it just comes from dreams or I guess most would call them nightmares. A lot of my dreams have monsters in them, but I think they simply represent deep seated fears. Writing these stories is therapeutic, I like to believe the dreams have meaning and maybe the stories seem fresh because there’s something “true” about them, or at least in my world.


Selene – Let’s talk about your series, Zombie Girl. What’s it about, how has it been received, and do you intend to write any more sequels? What can we expect?


A.G. – Zombie Girl was my first step into professional writing, it was my baby and I will always treasure it. The four-book saga was a labor of love and most readers I’ve interacted with have told me that it was hard to put down and that they found parts of it so very relatable. I wanted to create a zombie story like no other and I feel as though I really achieved that. The story follows Eve, a teen from a small town looking to escape and find a little adventure, she definitely gets more than she bargained for, and, as her character develops, we find out just how strong she truly is. I’m a big fan of comic books and I’ve always wanted to design a hero. Eve is a hero, a perfectly flawed one. I loved creating her, but her story is now complete. I’m happy with the ending and don’t want to spoil it. I’m currently working on a new series that will centre around the haunting of a small town, I don’t want to say too much about it, but it’s quirky and weirdly wonderful and it’s really hard to leave that world behind when I stop writing.


Selene – Fun question. Who would your dream cast be, in a film version of Zombie Girl?


A.G. – I always cast my characters before I start writing, it’s a really fun part of the writing process and I always look forward to it. My dream team for Zombie Girl would be Sophia Bush as Eve, Jennifer Lawrence as Alex and Brandon Routh as Cam. I chose them all for very geeky reasons and I’m not the least bit ashamed! Heheheh.


Selene – I was amused to find your story, “Aqua Vita”, from Another Beautiful Nightmare, was set in Ottawa. As a Canadian, I like to set my stories in Canada (and not just because I’m lazy). How do you choose your settings?


A.G. – I am a very proud Canadian and I love to use places in Canada in my stories. It’s not just a write what you know, it’s more of a write what you love and I love where I live! I’ve noticed many films have been filmed in or around Toronto, but no one ever calls it Toronto! I say, why not? Anything that can happen in New York could also happen in Toronto, so I say we start putting Canada on the international map, make it part of the dialogue, it’s time!


Selene – Do you prefer to write about places you’ve been and lived/travelled, or do you like to personally research your locations? (And hooray for Google Earth—a homebody writer’s best friend!)


A.G. – I usually write about places I’ve been, it’s my way of travelling back to them. I always secretly hope that when I write about a location someone might be reading that part of one of my stories in that exact same spot!


Selene – My sister and I have an ongoing argument about (ABOOT) Canadian settings. She thinks that Canada is boring, and no one gives a crap about The Great White North, except as a joke. I think it’s the opposite. How do you make Canada—which can be boring—scary?


A.G.- I think boring just means unexplored potential, I’m currently digging into Canadian legends for my current WIP and there are some really freaky ones that have left me sleepless! The ghosts this country has, my goodness!


Selene – And one more question about being a Canadian writer. Every article I read about Canadian literature seems to be about how much Canadian literature really sucks and is really problematic. Yet all the actual writing I read by Canadians, whether it’s poetry or prose or non-fiction or what have you…is wonderful, especially by Canadian horror authors like Tony Burgess and Gemma Files. What do you think is wrong with Canadian stories and CanLit, or have you noticed this dissonance?


A.G. – I love Gemma Files and Margaret Atwood and Nancy Kilpatrick, I feel that Canadian authors have a lot to offer and yet I agree that they often get overlooked. I wonder if Canada is dismissed because people just don’t know enough about us. As you said earlier, Canada is usually the punch-line, something about polar bears and ice castles and whatever else people have dreamed up. Somehow it stuck, so maybe I just better work with it and create a horror story about zombie polar bears that attack during massive snow storms? Could be fun at least.


Selene – Your story “Poveglia: The Island of the Dead” from Beautiful Nightmares: Women of Horror Anthology features a pretty horrific view of an afterlife. Where do you get your ideas? The reason I ask is the horror of Poveglia isn’t that she’s a bad person being punished, but that two of Anna’s three crimes seem to be childish rudeness and terrible choices and selfishness, rather than outright malicious intent. Part of Anna’s lesson seems to be to remember there are consequences and a duty to act–if this is what sends us to hell, we’re all in trouble!


A.G – It came from a dream and little bit from an Italian legend and a little bit from Dante. I do think we create our own hell by not being able to forgive ourselves. Poveglia is terrifying in that Anna doesn’t really deserve any of it, I agree. The horror genre certainly plays that angle quite often. I do think that sort of fear is healthy, we should be afraid of becoming bad people, we should be afraid of losing our humanity, we should always work towards kindness.


Selene – Your poem “Queen of Corpses” from the Damsels Of Distress anthology is a reworking of Shakespeare’s play King Lear, with a focus on Cordelia. What inspired this poem, and why do you think authors like to rework old properties (Shakespeare, myths, fairy tales, etc.)? And speaking of Cordelia, as a Canadian did the Tragically Hip song have even a tiny bit to do with it?


A.G. – Ha! Who doesn’t love a good reworking of a classic, and who doesn’t love The Hip? I wasn’t thinking of the song at the time, but I will be now! I have always loved Shakespeare, he just does tragedy so well. Cordelia has stayed with me for ages, she’s one of those characters that haunt you because she was so pure of heart and it didn’t really do her any favours. I guess the injustice had me reeling and this poem was going to come about one way or another. I really just wanted her to have her revenge.


Selene – In addition to the writing and other creative projects you juggle, you’re a “mombie.” What do you do to focus your priorities and keep on track, so you can get work done?


A.G. – It’s hard, I’m sure any mombie in my position would say the same thing. Finding balance is difficult, I don’t always find it, in fact most of the week is dedicated to being the mombie of the house, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it. There will come a day where the kiddos won’t need me as much, so I’m just absorbing every adorable moment that I can! I try to set aside a couple of days a week to write something, even if it’s just a little bit. My poetry writing is still a daily thing, it’s something that’s mine, and it’s soothing.


Selene – Thanks again for agreeing to an interview. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about here?


A.G. – My absolute pleasure! Thanks for having me and for all the awesome questions! It’s been fun! I guess I would just like to end with, keep reading kids! Grow your world with words, every book can teach you something! *The More You Know Rainbow appears*

Taking Submissions: Tell-Tale Press Short Stories

Deadline: July 1st, 2020
Payment: $5 for 500 to 1000 words, $10 for 1000 to 3000 words, $25 for 3000 to 5000 words

Tell-Tale Press now has submissions open to SHORT STORIES ONLY for at least one year, from July 1, 2019 through July 1, 2020. We plan to read through submissions as they are received and choose stories to publish on the Tell-Tale Press website online as they are selected. The stories may also be selected for digital and/or print anthologies in the future.


500 to 5000 words ONLY. Shorter or longer pieces will not be considered, even if it’s just a few words. Word count does not include title, author’s name and contact information, and any section numbers or section breaks.

Original work only. No reprints, unless you are an author who has previously published with Tell-Tale Press.

No simultaneous submissions.

Only four submissions total per author during this time period. If you send more than four submissions, all of your stories will automatically be rejected.

PLEASE FOLLOW STANDARD MANUSCRIPT FORMATTING. This includes one-inch margins, double spacing, either Times New Roman, Calibri, or Courier New font in 12 point, and consecutive page numbers. ANY STORY THAT IS POORLY FORMATTED WILL NOT BE READ. Click here for guidelines on how to create a standard manuscript.

YOU MUST USE THE SUBMISSION FORM ON THE WEBSITE, including the upload link as to where to upload your story. Any stories submitted not using this format will not be considered. Your file must be in the format of .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf.


The story must fall in the genre of fantasy, horror, mystery/crime, and/or science fiction. There is no specific theme at this time.

Some examples of what will be considered are crossover work, such as sci-fi horror or horror western, and subgenres such as historical fiction, steampunk, dark fantasy, action/adventure, dystopian future, gothic, comedy, new weird, and supernatural. True crime is okay, as long as the research is sound. Stories based on true events are okay as long as names are changed.

No niche-specific work. We are all-inclusive and look for naturally written stories and characters.

No poetry or sonnets.

No extreme sex or gore. Anything that would be rated R in the theatres is fine.

No straight romance (including supernatural romance), manga-type stories, political satire, fan fiction, or straight erotica. Elements of romance or erotica are okay.


Payment is as follows:

$5 for 500 to 1000 words

$10 for 1000 to 3000 words

$25 for 3000 to 5000 words

Author retains all rights to their story. Author agrees that the story will remain on the Tell-Tale Press site indefinitely.

If selected, your story will be published online on a determined date and will be promoted on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We will send payment via Paypal within two weeks (14 days) of publication. We will always advertise as much as we can for Tell-Tale Press in general. You as an author are always welcome to share and advertise as much as you like.

If we would like to use your story for a digital or print anthology, we will contact you with further information.

We will let you know within three months of your story being submitted whether or not it will be selected. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT US CONCERNING YOUR STORY DURING THE SUBMISSION PERIOD. We have a high volume of submissions, so we do not have the time to respond to questions about your story. Any emails with such queries will not be addressed. Most stories will be read and a decision made within one month. However, we cannot account for any unforeseen circumstances that may come up. Please watch our Facebook and Instagram pages for any news concerning such circumstances.

Tell-Tale Press reserves the right to close the open submission period at any time. Any unread stories will be released back to the author if such a closure should be necessary.

If you are ready to submit your story, click here for the Open Submissions Form.

Via: Tell-Tale Press.

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Writer or Author? Video Refresh

Writer or Author? by Nicole Simms

I have seen many websites that say that if you have work published then an author is what you are. I was even told that due to having work published I could call myself an author, but I have always associated the word author to those who have had a ‘novel’ published. So realising that I may not be alone in my confusion, I have decided to do this post.

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