The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is looking for, as you might guess, “compressed creative arts.” We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way. Work is published weekly, without labels, and the labels here only exist to help us determine its best readers.
Our response time is generally 1-3 days. Also, our acceptance rate is currently about 1% of submissions. We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.
We are open for compressed poetry, compressed prose fiction (including prose poetry), and compressed creative nonfiction during two reading periods: September 15 – December 15 & March 15 – June 15.
The reader for your submission is, during this current round of submissions, the managing editor.
Please be sure to submit in the correct category; we’ve been receiving several fiction submissions in the creative nonfiction category. (more…)
Deadline: May 15th, 2019 Payment: Contributor’s Copy (Charity Anthology.)
Seeking short fiction, short non-fiction, poems, experimental works and anything Bizarro related for a charitable anthology.
We at the British Bizarro Community are seeking to celebrate the weird and wonderful Bizarro writers we have in the UK and to make the world a more caring and safer place.
The Charity we have chosen to support is the UK based Mermaids. Mermaids supports children and young people up to 20 years old who are transgender and/or gender diverse, and their families, and professionals involved in their care. If you wish to know more please visit their website at; https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/about-mermaids.html
Must be Bizarro related, weird, crazy, bonkers stuff. If you want a quick intro to the genre email us or contact us on face book, we have a group!
Submissions must come from the UK or from people born in the UK.
Short fiction/ non-fiction 1500-3000 words. Poetry would preferably be short versed preferably under ten stanzas.
Anything else weird 3000 max word limit. If you’re unsure about anything please message us on our facebook page or at : [email protected]
SUBMISSIONS OPEN FROM MARCH 10TH UNTIL MAY 15TH!!!!
As this is a CHARITY anthology we will not be able to pay anyone but you will receive a contributors copy and 100% of the proceeds will go to the charity. So if you believe in the cause, Bizarro fiction and us as a group of utterly whacked out nutters please consider submitting.
Thank you for reading this far and we all look forward to reading your work!!
Deadline: June 30th 2019 Payment: 3 cents per word
Everything that is living EATS! Plants, animals, humans, aliens, monsters, sea creatures, they all eat in one form or another.
For the Chew on This! anthology we are looking for food-related stories, but we need you to dig deeper and get creative when it comes to the substances that keep us alive. Food should be integral to the story in some way, but not the entire focus. The plots can revolve around a wide range of cultures and belief systems, science and superstition, settings in the future or past. Above all we want stories that are macabre, scary, unsettling, and even gross. There’s room for every subgenre of horror from quiet and unsettling physiological tales to extreme and bizarro. Well written, imaginative, frightening, and unique perspectives that make readers afraid to visit restaurants, try cuisine in a foreign lands, attempt new cooking recipes, etc.
Cannibal stories- Sure they’re good enough to eat but not for this anthology.
No zombies, werewolves, vampires, or other well-tread tropes. If it’s off the dollar menu we won’t be ordering.
Pizza stories. We love a good pie but don’t want past anthology leftovers.
Predator and prey without any substance. Reasoning is the seasoning!
Deadline: July 15th, 2019 Payment: $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits and a paperback copy of the anthology
Description: For the first time ever, a collection of Sherlock Holmes adventures connected to the Master of the Macabre. Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe will have Holmes working within the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Some possibilities include Holmes solving the mystery of The Tell-Tale Heart or working to save Victorian London from the Masque of the Red Death. We can see Holmes work alongside Poe’s great detective Auguste Dupin. There are many possibilities.
Submission guidelines: A 5,000 – 10,000 word Sherlock Holmes story connected to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. You can play around with the time periods (i.e. put Holmes in the past or connect Poe to Victorian England); however, Holmes must stay traditional (for example, he can’t be married or in love).
Payment: Authors shall receive a payment of $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits and a paperback copy of the anthology.
Rights: Authors shall retain rights to their work. We only retain the rights to the story within the publication.
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2019
Kickstarter will run in October 2019 and publication of book will occur in November 2019.
Deadline: March 31st, 2019 Payment: $25 Note: Our apologies for the short submission window, just saw this one!
As has been announced on the SFFWorld Forums, we are now open for submissions for the 2019 SFFWorld Anthology.
The theme is “Dying Earth” (as voted for by members) and submissions are open from now until 31st March 2019.
Theme: DYING EARTH
Genre: sf/f/h, any and all subgenres, plus inventive mash-ups from outside that include them
Length: 1000-7500 word hard limit, 2000-5000 words preferred
File type: DOCX files for preference
Formatting: no need for any special hi-jinks (use italics if you want, don’t underline instead). Any non-standard cleverness regarding the appearance of the text should be essential to the story – no font switching, as that won’t carry over into the ebook easily.
Legalese: No fan-fic or other use of existing characters – all work must be the author’s own.
Payment: $25/story – flat rate and comp (digital) copies of the anthology.
Since professional studios did not back these films, they didn’t have to pass through any conventional filters. The desire to make these films surpassed the limitations and obstacles, which rear their terrible serpent heads in: the seams.
Perhaps it’s THE SEAMS which is most interesting about these films. How, barely passably, did they achieve creature effects or kill sequences given their limitations in budget, actors, writing, and directing? What can we learn about the times, the creator’s lives, and forgotten class-struggles from bygone eras? What is the magical element present in these films which draws new audiences back to them despite their horrendously low ratings on IMDB?
The best of these films have something in common: sincerity—a sincerity to scare and shock and to create some simulacrum of believability in an artificial pulp world gone mad.
We are especially attracted to horror stories, novels, and films with grim settings. Think the lonely frozen outpost of The Thing, the terrible working conditions of King’s “Graveyard Shift,” the struggling writer of Ligotti’s “Alice’s Last Adventure,” or the jaded demiglaze over James Woods’ eyes in VIDEODROME.
Comic artists and writers are encouraged to submit. Experimentation and non-traditional approaches to storytelling are encouraged.
Deadline: June 1st, 2019. Token payment: 5 dollars and 5 contributor copies or 25 dollars and 0 contributor copies.
Submit to: psychedelichorrorpress at gmail dot com
Writer Length: 2k-4kish
Comic Artist Length: 5-20 pages of black and white sequential art
Switchblade is an outlaw fiction print anthologyfeaturing authors writing in the hardboiled/noir genre, and nothing else. So think Richard Stark, Ross MacDonald, Jim Thompson, Don Winslow, Ken Bruen, James Ellroy, Lawrence Block, Iceberg Slim, Max Allan Collins, Christa Faust. (just to name a few) We don’t do cozies. We don’t do procedurals. We’re not a literary magazine, and we don’t do other genres. That said, we will consider noir/crime fiction ranging from the early twentieth century up to present day. Aside from that, we are a no limit hardboiled fiction journal—we publish the kind of stories no one else will consider. Back in the day there was a Nynex yellow pages ad campaign that went like this: if it’s out there, it’s in here—that’s how we feel. The world is filled with deviance, and good hardboiled fiction reflects that. We like strong characters, and good story telling, and we will not reject anyone based on mainstream morality. Amoral protagonists are encouraged. We will not however, publish masturbation fodder for masochistic pedophiles. We’re not interested in torture-porn erotica. But if you’ve got a deplorable protagonist, and there’s a good story—we’ll print it.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES **Submissions for 2019** Our next reading period will be MARCH 10th to MAY 5th For the 2019 Cybrerpunk themed Special Issue ONLY Switchblade: Tech Noir
Content. Rural noir is fine (very popular right now) but we love urban noir too. Urban being the setting.(not a reference to the racial demographic–any racial demographic is fine) We do mob stories. And not just Russian mob stories. Got a tight piece of fiction about the Sicilian mob in Jersey—we’ll look at it. Anyone who thinks the Italian Mafia (LCN) in America evaporated into thin air after the John Gotti trial, hasn’t spent any time in Philadelphia. That said—if it reads like a Sopranosscript or Goodfellas fan fiction, it’s going right into the trash bin. Make it original. If I open up a story about an Irish mob guy from Chuckytown (Charlestown), and his name is Blackey—it better be one hell of a story. Just like the other guys, we’re not interested in clichés. Serial killers are boring to me. Heist plots are also going to be a tough sell. We like Michael Mann’s “Heat”, and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” as much as the next guy, but as I’ve stated, we’re looking for originality, first and foremost. We love suspense. We like tension, and we like tightly written, gritty fiction with a twist (or two). If you really want to know what we’re all about, and to see what kind of stories end up in the pages of Switchblade, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of our latest issue. For $7.99 it’s a real steal.
Formatting. Our motto is quick and dirty: we’re looking for short fiction: 2,000 to 4,500 words. We’re also seeking flash fiction with a maximum of 1,000 words. Please put “fiction submission” and the title of the story in the subject line. Include a cover letter in the body of the email as well as a brief (100 word max)third-person biography. No Revised Drafts: The first draft you submit (upon selection) is the draft we print. So proofread your work before you submit. No simultaneous submissions. Address your cover letter to “Dear editor at Switchblade…” We’re not the big five, but we expect some professionalism. Please wait 30 days after the submissions deadline before querying about the status of a submission. Please set tab indentations for paragraphs at .25” Response time: We don’t send out “received” emails. Please allow up to three weeks afterthe end of the posted reading period before querying about the status of your submission. Send your story in standard manuscript format, double spaced as an attached Microsoft Word document (.doc or .rtf) to switchblademagsubmissions (at) gmail (dot) com
Payment: We’re now upping the ante. (a little) Each selected contributing author will now receive a payment of $15 (via Pay Pal)we are no longer including contributor copies as payment. Payment is per contributor, not per story. So whether we print your story, or poem, or both, you will receive a one time payment of $15. Payment for artwork will be $15 per page*(with a maximum of 4 pages)
Artwork: Please put “Artwork Submission” in the subject line of the email. We are currently seeking gritty-themed artwork featuring urban blight, femme fatales, juvenile delinquents, enforcers, shady characters, choppers, hotrods, and of course switchblade knives. Artwork should be submitted either as a link to your online portfolio, or as an attached JPEG file (at least 200 DPI)
Poems: Weare also seeking noir poems (no more than a page) Please include “poetry submission” in the subject line of the email.
Rights:Switchblade claims the following publication rights: First English-language Rights, English-language Periodical Rights, World Periodical Rights, and Electronic Distribution Rights. All rights revert back to the author six months after initial publication. ShouldSwitchblade choose to create an anthology of previously published work, new rights will be negotiated.
Reprints: We are not accepting any reprints at this time.
Oh dear, the plague has returned (with Stuart still suffering, TWF is really a hotbed of germs at the moment). I’ve been unable to shake off a cough from my recent bout of illness, it had been getting better but now I’m back to square one and the ‘fluey’ feeling is also back. This means I will be keeping this week’s editorial short and sweet; I’m typing it up from my sickbed before I knock myself out with Night Nurse – there’s dedication for you.
The first story this week in Trembling With Fear is The Masked Rider Saves his Family by Max Sparber is a story in the vein of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds told simply from a child’s point of view. With a childish belief in the fictional Masked Rider, he tries to emulate his hero, acting out what the character would do when confronted by an alien. The sheer simplicity and naivety of the boy makes the ending that much more tragic and horrific.
The Death of Dave Harbour by Arthur Unk has cold desperation bleeding through the paragraph. Adjectives and word positioning, alliteration and some great phrases, eg ‘The baritone howls of the creature echoed off the ravine walls’ immediately build atmosphere and tension and creates a stark image in the reader’s mind.
Blood Brothers by Steven Holding one of those reunions in a cabin stories which lead to murder – with a neat, although psychotic, twist. Some great imagery in this story too, ‘Throat slit like a second smile’ being a particular favourite.
Sting by Steve Toase is sheer poetry. A lyrical folk horror, Sophia becomes an element of nature, creeping into houses and into dreams to bring about a living nightmare. Perfect use of language, what more can I say?
So that’s it for this week and now I lay me down to sleep (if I am going to have any chance of dealing with a full work day tomorrow!)
Editor, Trembling With Fear
With the flu out of my system outside of a persistent cough I’ve been able to make progress on a few things.
First off, we may have figured out the cover for the next volumes of TWF and I’ll update you on that shortly!
Secondly, authors who were in ‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ should have received an e-mail from me in the last week. Please respond asap!
Third and finally, a huge thank you to our Patreons! I’ve been brainstorming a few new offerings for you soon. Stay tuned!
Editor, Horror Tree
The Masked Rider Saves his Family
Manny was playing with his Masked Rider doll when his mother made a noise. He knew it was her voice but he had not heard that noise before. It was the sort of sound the dog made. Sometimes Zorro got caught underfoot and yelped slightly. It was that sound.
Manny set down his doll. It looked just like the Masked Rider from the television show, with a detachable plastic hat that was constantly falling off. Manny didn’t like that.
He stood and went to his door, peering out. Downstairs he could hear his parents speaking in quiet voices, urgently. “So soon?” Manny’s mother said. “They said it would be at least two weeks. How did it get here so soon?”
Manny walked to the stairs. Zorro was asleep at the top, so Manny stepped over the dog and padded downstairs.
His parents were at the living room window, looking out. In the distance outside there were flashes of light, like fireworks.
“I’m hungry,” Manny said.
Manny’s parents turned. His mother marched over and took his hand while father drew the blinds on the window.
Mother took Manny to the kitchen and set about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “No edges,” Manny said. He did not like the crust.
“No edges,” mother said.
Manny watched as his father passed the kitchen door. Father was carrying a portable television. He went into his study and closed the door.
“You know what?” Manny asked his mother.
“What?” she answered, smearing peanut butter on bread.
“The masked rider was caught in cave last week and he was surrounded by bandits,” Manny said.
“Oh no,” mother said, adding jelly.
“I knew he could take them,” Manny said.
“Of course he could,” mother said, cutting the sandwich in half.
“He sure could,” Manny said. “They came in to get him and he took out his guns and bang bang bang,”
“Bang bang bang,” mother said. Then father groaned.
Mother put a plate with the sandwich on it in front of Manny. She turned and walked out to the study. The sandwich still had its crust on it.
Manny frowned. He took the plate in his hands and followed to the study. He stopped at the door. Mother was crying.
Mother and father were watching the television. There were explosions on it. Father spoke, very quietly.
“They’re saying they have a ray,” he said. “It burns up whatever it touches.”
“Can’t somebody talk to them?” mother asked, her voice thin and high.
“I think they’re trying,” father said. “They damn well better be trying.”
Manny laughed. Both parents turned, looked at him.
“You said a bad word!” Manny said.
“Go up to your room,” father said.
“But my sandwich,” Manny said.
“Go up right now,” father said very sternly.
Father stood and closed the door to his study.
Manny kicked the ground, angry. It woke Zorro, who stood at the top of the stairs, stretched, and then looked down at Manny expectantly.
“Come on Zorro,” Manny said. “Let’s go to my room.”
Manny went upstairs and into his room, the dog following. Manny slammed his door. He sat on the floor and ate his sandwich, feeding the crust to the dog.
Outside, there was a noise. It went boom. Manny stood up and looked out the window. There were people in the street outside. They were running.
Manny went to his closet. He put on his felt cowboy hat. He pinned his plastic sheriff star to his shirt. He pulled his plastic gun belt around his waist. He put his cap guns in the holsters. Finally Manny put on his plastic eye mask. Now he looked just like the Masked Rider.
Zorro licked Manny’s plate where Manny had left it on the floor.
The door opened and mother came in. She kneeled down in front of Manny and took his hands.
“Manny, we’re going to go down to the basement,” she said.
“Why?” Manny asked.
“It’s a game,” mother said.
“Can we take Zorro?” Manny asked.
“Not for this game,” mother said. “Zorro makes too much noise for this game.”
She stood and they walked out the bedroom. Zorro stayed behind, still occupied with the plate.
They walked down the stairs. Father was there, holding open the basement door.
They went down together.
“Go into the shelter,” father said. “I’ll turn out the lights and follow.”
Mother and Manny went into the bomb shelter together. It was small and concrete and cool. They sat on the floor.
“This is the game,” mother said. “The game is to be as quiet as possible. No matter what we hear, we are going to be as quiet as possible. Can you do that, Manny?”
“I’ll protect you,” Manny said.
Mother choked for a moment. The lights went out.
“I know you will, little one,” she said. “But right now we need to be very, very quiet.”
Father came in. Manny heard him move the metal door across the entrance to the shelter. Father sat down. Father held them both.
“Quiet as a mouse, Manolo,” father whispered. “Quieter than you have ever been.”
There were more booms from outside. The house shook, and dirt fell from the ceiling of the shelter.
Everything sounded very distant, very deep, like it sounds when you put your head underwater in the bath. Like you are underwater and far away somebody is screaming.
Soon there were the sounds of barking. Zorro. Then heavy sounds from above the shelter, from upstairs. Zorro barked again, and Manny inhaled hard, like he was about to say something.
Father put his hand on Manny’s shoulder and squeezed. Manny closed his mother.
Another bark, and then a strange noise, like the buzz a television makes when you turn it on.
Zorro did not bark again.
More sounds. Movement. Something came down the stairs.
Manny could hear it moving around the basement. In the dark, he put his hands on his cap guns.
And then there was a sliver of light. The metal door to the shelter opened slightly.
Father’s hand was still on Manny’s shoulder, and father’s hand shook. Mother was pressed up against Manny, and Manny could feel her chest rising and falling, like when Zorro had been running and began panting. Her breaths came fast, but in a whisper.
The door to the shelter opened more. There was a hand on it. Or, not a hand. Something like a hand.
The door opened the entire way. Mother sobbed at what she saw.
Manny stood up and drew his cap guns, pointing them. “You go away!” Manny shouted. He heard a buzzing.
The room got very hot.
MaxSparber is an author from Minneapolis. His speculative fiction has appeared in “The Best of Strange of Strange Horizons: Year One” and “People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Publications in 2018 include having stories anthologized in “Fangs and Broken Bones,” “Strangely Funny,” “Sanctuary,” “Black Buttons Vol. 3,” “Ye Olde Magik Shoppe,” and “Under the Full Moon’s Light.” Max is a member of the Horror Writers Association. He can be found at http://www.maxsparber.com/
The cold wind and ice blew against David’s frostbitten skin. Baritone howls of the creature echoed off the ravine walls. Teeth, fangs, and fur lumbered up the pass in pursuit. Jason and Kim were already dead; slaughtered savagely. David could taste death as the bile rose in the back of his throat. He slumped against a rock and pulled out his climbing tool. It would be useless against such a large creature, but the feel of it brought a sliver of comfort. Buring eyes appeared on the path ahead. David raised his weapon in faux defense and accepted his fate.
Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets
Of the six that arrived, only two of us remain. Comrades since childhood; this secluded mountain cabin the perfect spot for our overdue reunion.
At the height of the storm the first corpse appeared. Throat slit like a second smile. Frantic discussion eliminated initial suspicions; no stranger could’ve possibly gained access. Despite denials, responsibility lay amongst our terrified group.
In the ensuing chaos, another was discovered, gutted. When the power came back on; two more, butchered and bloody. Simple mathematics revealed the truth. Facing my friend, I screamed “WHY?”
Until the cold steel in my hand made me question everything.
Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work had been published in FRIDAY FLASH FICTION, THEATRE CLOUD, AD HOC FICTION and MASSACRE MAGAZINE. Most recently, his story THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH received first place in the INKTEARS 2018 flash fiction competition. He is currently in the process of completing a number of new short pieces of fiction and is also working upon a novel. You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk
Nettles emerged from Sophia’s every pore, unfurling just out of sight to button her skin white.
In bars drunken men plucked the leaves and folded them upon their tongue to prove their worth to no one in particular.
At night Sophia shattered their windows with leaf covered knuckles and crouched upon their beds while they slept. Slid the burn-hazel under their fluttering eyelids. Down their throats. Filled their dreams with snake bites that pierced cramped muscles, and limbs crumbling to stone with slow creeping gangrene. Dreams that did not fade with waking or the bite of the surgeon’s precise saw.
His work has appeared in Shimmer, Lackington’s, Aurealis, Not One Of Us, Hinnom Magazine, Cabinet des Feés and Pantheon Magazine amongst others. In 2014 Call Out (first published in Innsmouth Magazine) was reprinted in The Best Horror Of The Year 6.
From 2014 he worked with Becky Cherriman and Imove on Haunt, the Saboteur Award shortlisted project inspired by his own teenage experiences, about Harrogate’s haunting presence in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in the town.
He also likes old motorbikes and vintage cocktails.
Ruschelle: Nice to have you in the hottest of the hot seats here at The Horror Tree. Okay, it’s just alittle warm. And that’s only because I’ve been sitting in it…I may or may not have created an organic geothermal reaction on your seat. Damn tacos…
Speaking of tacos, which are awesome and meaty, tell us a little about yourself that no one but your therapist or parole officer knows.
Doug: Happy to be here. I think. You sure do cut to the chase! Let’s see…if I had a parole officer, it would probably be for road rage, which I try to manage with Buddhist mind training exercises. And I think therapists are great, but the only time I’ve been to see one was to get a prescription for public speaking anxiety when my first book was coming out and I was scheduled to do appearances at bookstores. It’s weird because I used to play in a rock band and never had stage fright about talking to crowds or singing, but reading to people was hardwired to the terror I experienced as a shy kid forced to read aloud in class. So that was a real obstacle when I finally got serious about fiction writing and promoting my books. Now, four books later, I love doing events.
Ruschelle: You shared your expertise at the Bigfoot Institute in February. Awesome! School us here at The Horror Tree about the creature.
Doug: Yeah, that was weird. My friend Tom Deady and I gave a writing workshop to students at the 826 Boston writing program in Roxbury. I almost couldn’t find the building, because the graphics on the glass door list it as the Bigfoot Research Institute. There’s even a giant stuffed yeti in the lobby next to a corkboard of Bigfoot tabloid stories, but the writing program seems to be the only thing going on there. So I still have no idea what that was about. But Tom and I realized afterward that if we really wanted to prepare these kids to earn an income as fiction writers, we should have advised them to write Bigfoot porn! And it was right under our noses the whole time.
Ruschelle: What can you tell us about ‘Bigfoot porn?’ And don’t leave out any juicy details?
Doug: all I know is I’ve heard it’s very lucrative. And I wear a size 13, so maybe I should give it a shot.
Ruschelle: Your books, from the Spectra Files Trilogy, are wrapped in the ancient tentacles of the Old Ones. Tell us about your ‘love’ of Lovecraft and how it influenced Red Equinox, Black January and Cthulhu Blues.
Doug: Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos has become a sub genre unto itself, and it can be a lot of fun writing things that connect to that shared world. I think it’s one of the first shared worlds in fiction, which Lovecraft encouraged back when his friends started riffing on his material in the 1930s. In recent years, it has kind of exploded. I grew up reading Lovecraft along with the other horror icons, and I’ve always known that cosmic horror was something I wanted to do, something that resonates with me more than, say, zombies or vampires. I love mythology, and I love the philosophical aspect of occult horror. And even though it can be excessive in Lovecraft’s own work, I also like horror stories that have a lyrical voice, like you find in Clive Barker’s work—another huge influence for me. The SPECTRA files trilogy gave me a chance to explore that stuff in a modern setting with a more contemporary voice and cast of characters. Lovecraft is problematic when it comes to the racism and gynophobia that underpins the cosmic dread. So I deliberately set out to play against that and to write a story that would also explore how those fears of the other are still with us in the age of ubiquitous surveillance and high-tech terrorism. Even the fact that the books are fast-paced thrillers goes against the grain of Lovecraftian fiction, which often works best as atmospheric short stories. I knew it would either be a total mess or a thrill for fans of the genre.
Ruschelle: How long did it take to write your trilogy?
Doug: I started Red Equinox in 2013 and Cthulhu Blues was published in 2017, so about four years.
Ruschelle: Did you have the whole series plotted out from beginning to end or did you just have a rough outline of each book and let inspiration complete the rest?
Doug: I don’t outline much. I make a lot of notes about the characters and the premise until I feel like I know enough to dive in and start discovering the story by writing it. I always say that inspiration comes from writing, not the other way around. But I will make forecast notes every 30,000 words or so—just brainstorming where I see things headed based on the conflicting motivations of the characters. That leaves room for a good amount of improvisation and surprise for me as a writer. I think a storyteller’s subconscious mind can be very nimble at making connections under pressure, and those are often better than a premeditated plot. It can be stressful, but I like to provoke that in myself by making it a necessity for hitting my daily word count and moving the story forward.
Ruschelle: Of all the Lovecraft Gods, which one do you resonate with the most? Ya know, the one you’d enjoy chugging a craft beer with at the Miskatonic bar?
Doug: Nyarlathotep without a doubt. Tall, dark, and mysterious.
Ruschelle:You’re a Black Belt! Has that skill made its way into any of your stories such as The Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods?
Doug: I’ve been doing various martial arts for about a dozen years now. I was not a very athletic kid—always had my head in a book or my hands on a guitar—so the training has definitely enhanced my awareness of the physical side of life. I’m sure my Tae Kwon Do and karate have informed every fight scene I’ve ever written, whether or not the characters have any training or skill. I also wrote a whole novel influenced by Iaido, the samurai sword art. That’s Steel Breeze, a crime thriller about a modern samurai serial killer.
As for my story in The Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods, it features a character with no self-defense skills, and I doubt he would fare much better if he had them. But he is a lifeguard—a job I had as a teen. You’ll have to pick up the book to see if that helps. It was a fun story to write because it takes place on Plum Island in Newburyport, near where I live. I feel lucky to be sharing the table of contents with Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, and a bunch of other terrific writers I admire. I’m told the book will be out in April.
Ruschelle: If you could be any character from any of your books and stories, who would you choose to be?
Doug: The cool thing about writing is that I kinda get to be all of them, right? But that’s probably a copout. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Batman first, then Dracula, then an astronaut, then a rock star. So I guess I’d like to be Billy Moon from The Devil of Echo Lake because he got to be the rock star I never was. But only for like a day. Billy’s kinda fucked up.
Ruschelle: A few years back, you were on a panel of writers at The Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival. You were hob knobbing with the spawn of the modern master of horror, Joe Hill! Tell us about the Cons you’ve been on and becoming best friends with Joe. I hear you guys fight monsters with pointy sticks in blanket forts in your jammies while snacking on goblin spleen… and popcorn!
Doug: That sounds awesome! Totally not true, but awesome. I met Joe when I interviewed him for Dark Discoveries magazine right before The Fireman came out. Great guy. Very funny. I can’t say we’re besties, but we did spend a day playing with an antique fire truck in a cemetery for a photo shoot my wife Jen did. So that was almost as cool as what you described. I’m a big fan of Joe’s books. And with the fire truck, I think we both felt like we were ten again.
Pretty sure the panel we did that you’re thinking of was the apocalyptic fiction one I moderated at Necon, but the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival is also an amazing mini-con. That’s where I got to share a signing table with Joe’s brother Owen this past year. Another great guy. I get the impression that the King family is made up of smart, kind people all around. Horror writers in general are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. I feel very lucky to have struck up little friendships with so many of the monstrously talented people I admire. When I started publishing six years ago, I didn’t know anyone, and that’s been one of the great joys of this crazy and often solitary occupation.
Ruschelle: You wrote a story specifically for the anthology, I Am The Abyss. The theme of the tome centers on the afterlife as characters are “trapped in self-created worlds.” Could you give us a little insight on your character and the inspiration behind such a cerebral tale?
Doug: When Dark Regions Press announced that they were doing an anthology of novelettes focused on the after-death realms experienced by characters based on their subconscious projections, I was immediately attracted to it. I’ve been interested in Tibetan Buddhism for decades (Jen and I even got married in a Tibetan refugee village in India, organized by a monk friend of ours). Anyway, if you’ve ever checked out the Tibetan Book of the Dead, you know that that’s the basic idea behind what they call the bardo states, or ‘in between’ realms. I did some historical research for the story and created a character who used to be a monk but relinquished his robes when the CIA offered to train him as a resistance fighter and air drop him back into Chinese occupied Tibet in 1961. That was an actual covert operation called ST Circus, which to this day not many people know about. So it was the perfect project for me to explore some themes close to my heart. I’ve also written a longer novella that’s a sequel to my Abyss story. It takes place in New York City’s Chinatown in the 1990s, and I’m shopping it around right now. That one’s called, The Wind in My Heart.
Ruschelle: The sneak peek of I Am The Abyss from publisher, Dark Regions Press looks awesome. With its unique 8×8 trim size and gorgeous full-color paintings, this book will be a prize to anyone’s collection. What else makes this anthology special for both writers and readers?
Doug: The book has been a long time in the making, in part because of how ambitious the production is, but I hear the paperbacks are starting to ship to kickstarter backers now with the standard orders and limited hardcovers to follow in the next few months. There’s a version signed by all of the authors and artists, and the artwork is just stunning. Conceptually, I can’t think of anything else quite like it. It’s a wonderfully unique but thematically unified blend of dark fantasy and horror.
Ruschelle: Is there a piece of writing advice that you find has become your mantra?
Doug: The longer I do this, the more I realize that every writer is different and every project is different and the only solid advice is: Do whatever works for you. Whatever it takes to get words on the page. For me, personally, the best mantra has been the one Stephen King popularized: The book is the boss. Every story has its own needs and even its own voice and it’s the writer’s job to fulfill that potential without forcing it to be something else. It’s a bit like parenting in that regard.
Ruschelle: Back to the Elder Gods, is there a team up you’d love to see happen with one of our Modern Gods? Like, maybe Bastet, Vishnu… or Marvel’s Thor?
Doug: Horus and Ganesha in a buddy cop movie.
Ruschelle: I was checking you out on Twitter (I always stalk my prey….I mean authors) and noticed a post on the internet hysteria which is Momo. What are your thoughts on Momo as a parent and as a writer?
Doug: Yeah, so what I was saying on social media is that, for better or worse, devices are embedded in our kids’ lives now, and parents—even those who are pretty tech savvy—are terrified that they don’t understand all of the dangers that this connectivity and digital saturation presents to kids. The New York Times today published an article with the header, “The real ‘Momo Challenge’ is the terror of parenting in the age of YouTube. That’s a growing area of fear and anxiety, and I expect that YouTube and shared world games like Minecraft are about to become the breeding ground for a hysteria to rival the Satanic panic of the 80s. Hoaxes and rumors will thrive. But the scariest part is that some of the fear will be justified.
Ruschelle: Where do you look for inspiration when your muse decides she needs a vacation to go visit her mother?
Doug: Anywhere. Everywhere. Songs, books, the news. Mythology, psychology, family life. Whatever the cat dragged in. Any one idea by itself probably won’t provide the spark, but the friction between two unrelated ideas colliding is where the magic happens.
Ruschelle: What are you cooking inside your head’s Eazy-Bake Oven? Could you give us a little taste?
Doug: Your question about the Momo meme ties into that. I’m currently pitching a novel called His Own Devices. It’s a domestic cyber thriller with a supernatural twist. Here’s the hook: When Jessica discovers that her young son’s digital addictions have lured him into a dark relationship with a psychotic YouTube celebrity, it may be too late to stop a deadly game.
Thank you so much for sitting down with me and your newfound fans here at the Horror Tree. Where can your stalkers find you on the www?
Deadline: May 15th, 2019 Payment: 3¢ per word, $150.00 max, 1¢ per word for reprints Note: Reprints accepted
We are a literary magazine of dark fiction, both short stories and flash fiction. We want your best. But then, doesn’t everyone? No specific sub-genres or themes, just good stories. For inspiration, we suggest “The Twilight Zone”, “The Outer Limits”, and LampLight, Vol1 Issue 1 which is free.
We go for stories that are dark, literary; we are looking for the creepy, the weird and the unsettling.
We do not accept stories with the following: vampires, zombies, werewolves, serial killers, hitmen, excessive gore or sex, excessive abuse against women, revenge fantasies, cannibals, high fantasy.
We have published writers of all backgrounds from all over the world in LampLight, but not everywhere, nor all shapes and sizes of writers. Help us to shine a light on greater diverse writing and keep LampLight a showcase of the best dark fiction out there by submitting and encouraging others to as well.
Edition and Rights
The quarterly is published as print and ebook, and at the end of the year all the quarterlies are bound together in an annual collection.
We are asking for non-exclusive, worldwide, serial rights to your work for both electronic and print. We want to publish it, we don’t want to own it.
We will take reprints, provided you have the rights we are asking for. We will not consider reprints that are currently available for free online.
If you have already been in LampLight, we ask you wait until the next volume to submit again.
We accept originals and reprints up to 7,000 words (firm). Payment in USD.
Unpublished Fiction: 3¢ per word, $150.00 max
Reprints: 1¢ per word
Please note: works published to a Patreon or similar site are considered reprints
Simultaneous and Multiple Submissions
Simultaneous submissions are fine, just let us know if it gets accepted elsewhere. Multiple submissions are not allowed, and will result in all submissions being rejected.
There are two submission periods for LampLight:
15 March – 15 May for the September and December Issues
15 September – 15 November for March and June Issues
Submissions sent outside of these periods will not be considered.
Where to Submit
Submittable is our preferred method of submission. We accept most file types as well. Please use standard manuscript format for your story (although headers and footers are not needed). Please add REPRINT to the subject line, if your story is a reprint!
If you need to edit your submission
If you uploaded the wrong file, have a newer version, anything, please do notwithdraw your story. Instead send us an email and we can release it back to you for editing.
We can only get 300 submissions a month through Submittable. If the followed link reads “There are presently no open calls for submissions.” then we have filled our quota for the month. You will be able to submit again on the 1st of the following month. But, when the limit is reached on the last month, time is up!