Trembling With Fear 08/18/2019

Ageism. Does it exist in the writing industry? I’m only considering the issue (again) now because I had an uplifting moment last week when I received a story from an 80-year-old author. Prior to that I had been seeing nothing but ‘young’ pictures of writers online. Anyone who is anyone making their name, especially female, it appears, is someone at least half my age (and yes, I know, everybody looks young as you get older, the scariest being the doctors!). They all look ‘on trend’, go-getting, on the way UP. Me? I’ve got lines and wrinkles and quite a lot of me is beginning to sag these days (hence the trips to the gym – I will not go quietly into that good night!). It makes you feel a little as if you don’t belong. And I think this is a creeping danger that needs to be stopped.

I have read quite a few tweets etc online where organisations, competitions and the like are trying to promote and support new writers, the next generation of writers and so on. All laudible, however the implication, and sometimes not implicit, but explicitly stated, is that that the new writers are all young. Writers however, do not all start at the same point in their careers. Some don’t write in their childhood, or their 20s or 30s, some might not even write until much later. These older writers are still ‘new’ however and should be allowed the same support and promotion as those who are much younger. If you are going to support ‘new’ writers it has to be age blind.

Over to Trembling With Fear which leads this week with A Jarful of Teeth by McKenzie Staley is a cautionary tale of what you could find in an abandoned house. Is it abandoned? Is it haunted? Or has the previous occupant, imprisoned for murder, been released and returned? The build of tension, the references to Kiren’s own, not quite perfect life, keeps the reader from guessing the outcome too soon. Including objects from a more innocent time also adds a poignant touch. A jar of baby teeth says a lot without having to explain anything. A clever use of an object to show, not tell.

Premiere Day by Jacek Wilkos is a warning. Be careful when accepting a freebie – but it is also a novel way of appearing on screen. It was nice to move away from the usual settings of bedrooms and kitchens and woods to somewhere different. This writer is in Poland and I hope we see more submissions from those in Eastern Europe.

Traces by Alyson Faye is a mini gothic masterpiece. She makes full use of the tools of the poet’s trade to create a dark, brooding image of a neglected graveyard, a ‘giant’s maw’ of teeth, ‘the broken, the chipped, the lost and the untended’ eating up its environment.

Eyes Open by Stacey Jaine MacIntosh is a first person piece which I would actually consider reading to some of the students I work with. When they regale me with their tales of free-running and parkor I cringe. They look up to a certain You Tuber by the name of Ally Law, a peer of my son’s, and someone who I worked with briefly in junior school and saw around senior school for a little while. If you see what he gets up to online I think you’ll agree this story might be how it all ends.

 

Steph

(Not quite over the hill yet and I still have all my own teeth  so I won’t end up in Alyson Faye’s graveyard just yet!)

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Good news! I think we’ve got the new set of contracts figured out. Those of you who have been waiting for them should ideally be getting them starting in the coming week (unless testing fails or we find a glaring hole in them which needs to be addressed!) 

I did add borders around the drabble below which weren’t previously included. Please let me know if you feel this looks good and is something we should continue doing in future installments of Trembling With Fear! 

Outside of this, I’ve been massivey behind this week so no real updates on the site or TWF here. More to come soon! I hope 😉

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

A Jar Of Baby Teeth

The smell of rotten wood reaches its arms out to me. If I breathe through my nose it burns my sinuses, if I breathe through my mouth, the taste makes me gag.

“It’s not safe, Kiren,” Momma used to say. “Better to stay home.”

Not like my father passed away on the kitchen floor, when Momma’s screams were heard down the line of identical houses.

            I find a broken window at the side of the house. Glass shards crunch underneath my boots as I approach. I roll my sleeves over my palms and hoist myself through.

            Inside is far darker than the summer day outside. Dirt and dust float around the air and fills my lungs. I cough into my elbow.

            I enter through a dingy kitchen. The doorway leads to a long, dark hallway. I can hardly see the floorboards ahead.

I slow down my steps and pause at pictures hung on the wall. One shows a dark skinned woman and her two kids. Their smiles so large that it can’t be real.

Momma’s rants about the abandoned house at the end of the meadow, right before the woods forever engrained in my mind.

            “What are you doing in my house?”  

            I gasp and stumble away from the picture. A woman stands farther down the hallway. She’s the daughter from the picture. Much older, getting close to her last years at least. How did she get here?

            “You’re—“

            “Have you seen my dad?” the woman interrupts. “I can’t find him.” She hobbles towards me. Eyes glazed over, irises moving rapidly from left to right.

            I take several steps back.  “I—I don’t know.” Ahead, the front door is boarded shut. I turn and take off to the kitchen. Not sure why my blood pulses through my veins with a burning heat. My fourteen-year-old body can take a woman of her age.

            The woman appears ahead. Her white hair sticks out at all angles as she peers down at me.

“I don’t know,” I say, “but… I’ll help you.”

            The woman cocks her head. “You will?”      

            I nod. “Yeah, just tell me what to do.”
            The woman shakes her head. “You can’t do anything. I’ve already done enough, just need to finish…” She paces between the entryway of the kitchen and the wall. “I have to find him.”

            “What happened to your family?” I ask.

            The woman waves her hand my way. “They’re dead. He just got away.”

            The inside of my throat swells. My pulse throbs against my temple. “What’s your name?”

            The woman still stands in the way of my exit. Her hand shakes as she brushes a stray hair from her eyes. “Charlotte.”

I incline my head. Momma’s rants finally start to become useful. Charlotte Brandish, a seventeen-year-old killer. Her father survived, escaping through her own bedroom window.

“Where’s your bedroom, Charlotte?”

            “Down the hall.”

            “I’ll look for him there,” I say.

            “Good idea!” Charlotte calls behind me.

            Pink paint covers the bedroom walls. Its faded from time. The bed, neatly made with a wooden box at the foot. Wood splinters off of it. Hinges creak as I lift the lid.

            Inside lays a jar of baby teeth, a class ring, and a pearl necklace. Dried out art supplies fill the rest of the space.

I run a finger over a paintbrush. Its bristles prick my skin. These things kept her in her room and away from the memories that refused to move on.

            “Don’t touch that!”

             I jump, the box falls from my hands and smashes at my feet.

            Charlotte screams. She falls to her knees and hugs the pile onto her lap. Her bones creak and pop.

            I stand still, even my trembling knees pause.

Charlotte’s back stiffens. She glares up at me, tears stream down her cheeks. “What did you do?” She pulls herself up, and the box’s contents clatter to the floor.

            She shoves my shoulders. I wave my arms out to catch myself. My wrist hits the bedside table hard. I wince and yank myself away from her.

            Charlotte screams and charges.

            I scream right back as I throw myself out her bedroom window. I continue to scream through the meadow all the way to my back porch.

As I climb my porch steps Charlotte’s cries still reach me. I slam my back door.

I lean against the window and stare out at the abandoned house. It stares back at me.

 

McKenzie Staley

McKenzie Staley runs a Youtube Channel for writing under the name McKenzie Staley. She is also a part of Ghost Author’s writing team. 

McKenzie is from Pinedale, Wyoming and is currently enrolled in Full Sail University’s Creative Writing for Entertainment BFA program. 

 

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBIWOgfZhwhprFZ18q3nOnA?view_as=subscriber

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_mckenzie_staley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kenzi_staley

Eyes Open

Keep your eyes open. Look straight ahead. Don’t look down. It was sound advice. I should not ignore it. A litany, repeating itself. I clung to it, until it lost all meaning.

If I looked down, I would fall. I knew that, but still it didn’t stop my eyes from roaming to that one spot on the ground. I had to get it together. Just a little bit further and I’d be back on solid ground. I couldn’t wait.

Climbing the tower hadn’t been one of my best ideas. Losing my footing, I slipped and with eyes wide; I fell.

 

Stacey Jaine McIntosh

Stacey Jaine McIntosh was born in Perth, Western Australia where she still resides with her husband and their four children.

 

Although her first love has always been writing, she once toyed with being a Cartographer and subsequently holds a Diploma in Spatial Information Services.

 

In 2011, she had her first short story Freya published in an anthology, twelve more have followed. The latest story, Morrighan, is available to purchase among all good booksellers.

 

Stacey is also the author of a self-published novel Solstice, and she is currently working on several other novels simultaneously

 

When not with her family or writing, she enjoys reading, photography, genealogy, history, Arthurian myths and witchcraft.

 

You can find her here:

 

WEBSITE: www.staceyjainemcintosh.com

 

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/StaceyJaineMcIntosh

 

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/StaceyJMcIntosh

 

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/morrighanfae

Premiere Day

The screening room was full. Sitting comfortably in their chairs, people were waiting impatiently for the mysterious film to start. They had all found strange movie tickets in their mailboxes, showing only the date and place – an old abandoned warehouse.

When the lights went out, the audience were surprised to see themselves appear on the screen. They waited, wondering what would happen next. Suddenly, a steel cable appeared, was stretched across the room and released. It sprang at them with great speed, decapitating them all.

Their brains recording those last images, the audience watched their death on the silver screen.

Jacek Wilkos

Jacek Wilkos is an engineer from Poland. He lives with his wife and daughter in a beautiful city of Cracow. He is addicted to buying books, he loves coffee, dark ambient music and riding his bike. He writes mostly horror drabbles. His fiction in Polish can be read on Szortal, Niedobre literki, Horror Online. In English his work was published in Drablr, Rune Bear, Sirens Call eZine.

You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/Jacek.W.Wilkos/

Traces

Feral churchyards

consumed by nature,

arrayed with gravestone teeth –

a giant’s maw filled with

the broken, the chipped, the lost

and the untended.

The stones chew the frothing summer grass,

reign proud over winter’s barren dirt.

Beneath – bones shifting, settling, decaying

whilst dead voices linger,

captured pre dawn

in the greying granite walls

glittering with grief.

Heard only by the corvids

garnishing the trees branches

in their black tattered cloaks.

Avian mourners,

a cacophonous choir,

drowning out

the whispering of wraiths;

those lingering souls who suck up

the chilly silence –

a banquet for eternity.

Requiescat in Pace.

 

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, teen son and 4 rescue animals. She has been a teacher, a carer, a road safety instructor and a lifetime film buff. Currently she teaches creative writing workshops and writes dark fiction, both short (flash) and long. Her short stories have appeared in print in the anthologies, Women in Horror Annual 2, Stories from Stone, DeadCades:The Infernal Decimation, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Crackers. Her debut flash fiction collection, Badlands, was published in January 2018 by indie publisher, Chapel Town Books and her own Trio of Terror – Supernatural Tales (all set in Yorkshire) came out in December 2018. Her flash fiction has appeared in several charity anthologies and can be heard on several podcasts. Her fiction has won, or been shortlisted in several competitions.

Her latest horror story is out as an ebook from Demain publishing, on amazon, Night of the Rider.

Her blog is at www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.

Her amazon author is at https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01NBYSLRT and she’s on twitter as @AlysonFaye2.

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Miracle Austin

Ruschelle: Welcome to the Tree. We’ve grown a twisted branch especially for you. Speaking of twisted, give us a little taste of your horror writer’s mind. What is a line from your works you are most proud and frightened of?

Miracle:

There are several, but I’m going to go with a short line from my short story, “Meat Lover’s Special” in Boundless:

“Get out now! You may have less than 15 minutes after consumption, before…” the rep replied, breathing hard and stuttering into the phone receiver.”

 

Ruschelle: By day, you don your glasses, Ala Clark Kent and ‘voila,’ you’re a mild mannered Social Worker. Has any of your experiences in social work, bled into your writing?

In my book, Social Workers are the ones that wears the cape and are quite heroic.

Miracle:

Absolutely, Ruschelle. Over the years, I’ve worked in various fields—mental health (adults/teens), domestic violence (victims/survivors), hospice, and currently geriatrics. Some of my work experiences have bled over to formulate some story ideas, while past and present personal encounters continue to inspire other ideas.

 

Ruschelle: Where do you mine your creativity? Books, movies, real life?

Miracle:

My mom has been a huge part of my creativity. She introduced me to horror via an AM radio horror show that aired on Friday nights, when I was in the fifth grade. My mom also told me some interesting stories about growing up in Crawford, Texas, and her personal journeys. Many books, movies, and personal experiences from my elementary to college years, also fuel my creative juices.

 

Ruschelle: You dove into the novel world with book one in your series, Doll. What challenges did you face while creating a new world with fantastic characters growing through multiple books?

Miracle:

I believe replacing my fears with procrastination was the biggest challenge for me to write my first novel, Doll. My self-confidence was poor, and I fed myself a lot of negativity, such as, “No one will like this… might as well stop writing…” Then, one day, I figured that I’m going to finish this story inside of me, no matter what. If one person enjoyed it, then I’ve succeeded, but most of all, I conquered my fear by completing it.

 

Ruschelle: Doll, takes place in halls of Frost High. Did you base any characters from your own high school classmates and experiences? Well, maybe not the witches and mayhem…

Miracle:

Ruschelle, some of my high school experiences assisted me to build my story. As we all know, mean girls existed way back when and will always, whether in an educational institution or any workplace. Being teased in junior high and high school, myself, and seeing others impacted way more than I had to deal with ignited part of this story. I wanted the underdogs to win and beat the main antagonists. Did they? Just have to read the Doll Trilogy to find out… wink… wink.

Since I mentioned the Doll Trilogy, I wanted to share a little more about it. It’s a coming of age supernatural love story, which deals with outcasts, friendships, family, sacrifices, free-will, bullying, romance, grief, new identity struggles, betrayal, making healthy/unhealthy choices, revenge, racism, and teen domestic violence with some unexpected twists and turns. At the end of each book, I give my readers an unrelated bonus short story and a little surprise in Doll 3: The Hunting.

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

Ruschelle: You won 2nd place in the Young Adult category for ‘Doll’ in the Purple Dragonfly Awards. Kudos! How did it feel to have your first novel written, recognized?

Miracle:

Thank you very much, Ruschelle. I was shocked and didn’t believe my little book stood a chance. I reviewed that email so many times, and once I received my certificate in the mail, I knew it was real. Ruschelle, it was and always will be an extreme honor to possess a Purple Dragonfly Award. It definitely boosted my self-confidence.

 

Ruschelle: You mention in your bio that the Cars song, Drive, was what helped inspire you to become a writer. This sounds like a great story, so please share.

Miracle:

Ruschelle, first of all, music is my natural therapy. I love listening to all kinds of music with the 80s—#StrangerThingsForever—being my favorite, especially love and soft rock songs, but I Iove everything! So, when I first heard Drive by the Cars, those lyrics really stuck with me. I wrote them down on a sheet of paper in my purple and white Trapper Keeper. This was probably the first time I really paid attention to how the words from a song told a story, and then boom, I started writing free-verse poems. This song led me off the dance floor to sit at a table with a typewriter, pen, paper, and a pocket dictionary.

 

Ruschelle: Love me some 70’s and early 80’s soft rock! You’re a girl after my own dark little heart.

As a horror writer who is a fan of the blood suckers of the night, aka. Vamps- if you could change anything from the vampire mythos, what would it be?

Miracle:

Ruschelle, this is a really hard question because vampires possess so many extraordinary abilities and powers. I’m a huge fan of many vampire stories/original movies, such as: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Fright Night,” “From Dusk til Dawn,” “The Lost Boys” “Blade,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals,” and “The Strain”

At this time, I wouldn’t change anything. The vampire world continues to evolve, and I’m anticipating to watch, read, and/or write the next vampire story.

 

Ruschelle: We are in the upswing into Fall, which means many things to us Horror Writers but to those of us with a sweet tooth, it means CANDY! So what is the scariest candy you ever received in your bag on Halloween?

Miracle:

I attended trick or treating in the neighborhood, once when I was maybe seven-years old, according to stories my mom has shared with me. My mom checked the candy before I was ready to consume it. Luckily, she did, because she found a sewing needle inside a Snickers Bar. To this very day, I’ll check any soft candy before I eat it. Honestly, I inspect everything.

 

Ruschelle: Holy cats! I thought the ‘needle in the candy bar’ was just an urban legend. Wow!

Most writers seek out and find their niche, be it horror, romance, non-fiction, children’s books etc. What drew you to writing Young Adult books?

Miracle:

Ruschelle, I never imagined that I would write stories for young adults. When I rediscovered my passion to write a few years ago, my mind was focused on writing for adults. A promising publisher in the past told me that the majority of my stories would fall into the young adult arena. So, I thought about what he told me and realized that he was right. Therefore, young and new adult became my arenas of focus. Plus, I absolutely love to reflect back on my teen years/struggles and/or read, hear, watch teen stories, which is why I enjoy writing young adult books and short stories.

 

Ruschelle: You have been a panelist at comic conventions and book festivals as well as a guest speaker for schools and writing inspired events. What topics do you enjoy discussing the most as an author? Which are your least?

Miracle:

I enjoy talking about everything, especially the ideas behind my stories, and inspired playlists.

 

Ruschelle: Do you find that there are certain questions and requests for pieces of advice that come up over and over again?

Miracle:

I love talking about this and, it comes up sometimes: What would you tell your younger self, right now?

I also like to share, if applicable: “Never allow anyone to tell you that you cannot do something or you’re not good enough because guess what? You can. You’re awesomeness, so soar. BOOM!”

One of my favorite quotations about believing in yourself and realizing your sparkly magic:

“Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”  ~Stephen King~

 

Ruschelle: Explain your ‘fan-girl’ status? DC? Marvel? Manga? Tell us more?

Miracle:

Marvel/DC/Horror/ComicCon Fan-Girl! I used to be a really shy person, especially in late elementary/junior high and high school. However, the Marvel/DC and horror universes allowed me to crawl out of my shyness cocoon, which helped me to develop my invisible confidence cape, it’s hot pink with silver and plum stars plastered all over.

Wonder Woman, Captain America, Blade, Squirrel Girl, Kevin Wendell Crumb, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers are a few of my faves! By the way, I love collecting T-shirts, mostly comic book related and horror. I also love to attend comic cons, when I can.

By the way, I love to watch all the cosplayers walk past me. I find their unique costumes, just mesmerizing and their energy, simply… magical. I believe people need to escape from their realities for a little bit and be whoever they desire to be. Comic cons allow them to do that.

I’ve seen this magic many times before with my sweet hubby, when he cosplays. It’s as if once the cosplayer takes on his or her character, then he or she can dwell in that extraordinary dimension and share it with others.

Plus, I think cosplaying boosts self-esteem for some, especially when others are watching that cosplayer and requesting to take selfies. Cosplayers are celebrities, and you never know who you may bump into!

 

Ruschelle: If you could be any superhero or gain fantastic superpowers to ‘save the day,’ who would you be or what powers would you have?

Miracle:

Definitely, the absorption of any super-power, as long as I desired, with incredible martial art skills to use for the good! My costume would be a fantastic mash-up of Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Blade gear.

 

Ruschelle: Blade gear? Awesome! 

Of all your projects was there one that was a particular, dare I say, monster? Yep, I dared.

Miracle:

WereVamCabra—part werewolf, vampire, and chupacabra—a trio hybrid. You can find an interesting short story in Boundless called “Study Break about this creature.

 

Ruschelle: Your newfound fans would love to hear about your next big projects. Could you, would you, share a little?

Miracle:

Of course, I’ll be attending a few exciting book related events in the fall. Please feel free to check out my website for locations and dates.

As for my current writing project, I’m working on my next Young Adult novel, Misties. I bet you’re wondering what in the heck is that about. I’ll give you a little hint—stake or not to stake

 

Ruschelle: Tell us all how we can follow you and your works on the www.

Miracle:

Ruschelle, I want to take this time to thank you for seeking me out and interviewing me for The Horror Tree—very grateful for this opportunity and your precious time. Awesome questions!

I love hearing from my fantastic readers, who already know me, and new ones, too!

Website: www.miracleaustin.com

Facebook: Miracle Austin Author   (black, crouching creature with wings is my symbol)

Instagram/Twitter: @MiracleAustin7

Thank you for reading…

 

Taking Submissions: Vestal Review – Web Edition

Deadline: November 30th, 2019
Payment: $10

Please read the entire guidelines before submitting. No, really. Please do. It will help you, and it will help us.

We accept and publish web edition submissions on a rolling basis. We don’t read new submissions in December, January, June and July.

Vestal Review is a magazine for new flash (short-shorts) fiction, 500 words or fewer. We don’t accept reprints.

We love to hear new voices, especially from immigrants, but we don’t discriminate against anyone.

We love magic realism. High fantasy, science fiction, romance and kids stories? Not so much.

No fees. The honorarium is $10.  All payments will be made only through PayPal.

For Web edition, we consider only one story per author. We accept simultaneous submissions.

We assume that every writer is also a reader, so please read the guidelines before submitting and not the other way around.

Our philosophy: Most stories are not rejected because they are not good, but because other stories are better.

Vestal Review now publishes its print issues twice a year in a perfect-bound edition. All content is available on the Web. We welcome your submissions, but please read our guidelines first.

We don’t read new submissions in December, January, June and July  (except for special calls for submissions). All submissions sent during this time will be deleted. Don’t worry: the categories that we don’t temporarily consider will be hidden from view. Each submission is to be sent separately.

Our reading periods are:

1. February-May
2. August-November

Once in a while, we have special calls for submissions that change the above schedule and payments.

Effective immediately, all submissions should be done using our submission manager. We will not consider any other forms of submissions.

submit


Use this e-mail to inquire about the status of your submission (please wait three months before sending it):


submissions[at]vestalreview.net

Please start the subject line with the word “Query.” Do not use this e-mail for anything else including submissions.

Vestal Review accepts only original material. No reprints, please. Even if it has been displayed on your own Web page, we consider it published. If the story has been posted and reviewed at a password-protected e-workshop with a controlled list of participants, we consider this a plus.

Vestal Review is a magazine for flash (short-shorts) fiction.   We realize that there are different definitions of what a flash story is and all of them have merit. In our definition, a flash story is no longer than 500 words and it has a plot. If it’s longer than 500 words and/or has no plot, we are not interested. We are also not interested in porn, racial slurs, excessive gore, or obscenity. On the other end of the spectrum, no children’s or preachy stories either, please. Our target audience is people over 18, so R-rated content is OK, but not X-rated. Most genres, other than children’s, syrupy romance or hard science fiction, are accepted, and we love humor.

Don’t forget that the title is an important part of the story. Make it pertinent but don’t tell too much. We generally don’t favor one-word titles.

Via: Vestal Review.

Unholy Trinity: Mommy Fearest by Margo Rife

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

Inspiration for my Unholy Trinity Drabbles coincided with the arrival of a trio of large Wolf Spiders. The duo that settled in a huge web in the corner of my front window were easy to eliminate. But the third hitched a ride into the house in a potted plant. Online research warned that the female spider carries her babies–numbering in the hundreds–on her back and they can hatch and hide in one’s residence. – Margo Rife 

Mommy Fearest

My babies are dying of thirst. No water source. If my midnight plan doesn’t work, my precious ones turn against me. Suck me dry. So, this human baby must save my spiderlings. 

We gave birth the same week. Our abdomens ripped open. 100 eggs vs one. 

The chubby pink spawn silently sleeps. My babies’ venom will swiftly liquefy its internal organs. I descend on a silken thread to land on its soft belly and bite. The pink blob screams. Drops of salty liquid stream from its gelatinous blue orbs. 

Hop off your mama and drink, my babies. Bite and drink. 

 

Spider to the Fly

“Won’t you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly.

Hey! Come inside my bar. You’re getting wet. 

What’s a lovely thing like you doing out on a night like this?

So he wove a subtle web.

Dante, get this poor creature a Night & Fog. Drink it, frail one.

Your eyes shine like diamonds. You tremble. Are you high?

Let’s lie you down. My sheets are fine and thin.

No need to help, Dante. She’s light as gauze.

He dragged her up his winding stair.

Hey, beautiful. Welcome to my den.

Frail One was never seen again.

 

In Memory of Kevin

Power Point presentation to CEO’s at Spencer Scientific Labs.

Click.  Decades of dedicated lab research

Click.  to create synthetic spider webs that are

Click. stronger than steel—tougher than Kevlar. 

Clink. No army can penetrate these giant structures. 

Click. Molecules unexpectedly morph into glue. The idea was to trap not enslave.

Click. Skeletal remains of the terrorist group El-Traleet. Isn’t that web stupendous?

Click. Wasting bodies of Venezuelan immigrants. The glistening is the glue.

Click. Fly-infested hanging goat carcasses in Iran. Webs are a work-in-progress.

Click. In Memory of Kevin our first intern. He looks peaceful hanging from that web.

Margo Rife

Margo seems to be drawn to small word count. As a playwright, she has had two short monologues performed by the Women’s Theatre Festival and MOJOAA Performing Arts. She is also fascinated with flash fiction. It’s a new obsession and she hopes to someday meld her writing and graphic design skills. Inspired by a member of her writing group, she is expanding into the horror genre. 

Plays available on NPX site. New Plays Exchange.com

Flash Fiction: Goodnight Shark, Down the Rabbit Hole Darkly, I am Cheetos…hear me roar, Diary of a Lazy Eye.

Taking Submissions: An Untitled Stormy Island Publishing Anthology

Deadline: September 13th, 2019
Payment: Contributor’s Copy

Your story should be between 500 and 3,000 words and edited to the best of your ability.

Stories must have a supernatural theme (ghosts, spirits, demons, hauntings, anything that goes bump in the night.)
Submissions are open now until 11:59 p.m. September 13, 2019 EST. (We are looking for an October publication date.)

We will accept only one submission per author.

Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted. Previously published submissions will not be accepted. Submissions should not be available for viewing online during the submission/publication process or for 6 months after publication.

Submissions should only have mild, non-graphic violence, no explicitly sexual/erotic scenes, and “bad” language should not be used excessively but may be used in limited capacity.

To avoid rights issues, no living public figures should be used as characters, no fan-fiction involving proprietary characters, and no song lyrics. However, passing references to these are fine.

All submitting authors will be notified of our decision within 2 weeks of closing date. If your submission is chosen, you will receive a full publishing contract outlining the details of our agreement. Upon signing, Stormy Island Publishing retains exclusive rights until six months after publication.

As payment, each author will receive a paperback copy of the anthology after publication.

For details on how to submit, visit our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Via: Stormy Island Publishing.

Taking Submissions: Apparition Lit Magazine Issue 8: Euphoria (Short Window!)

Deadline: August 31st, 2019
Payment: $0.03 per word

Apparition Lit is open for poetry and short story submissions four times a year.

  • February 15-28
  • May 15-31
  • August 15-31
  • November 15-30

Submissions received outside of posted open dates will be deleted unread.

Our themes for 2019 will be:

  • Resistance (Submission period November 15-30, 2018 CLOSED, Published January 2019)
  • Ambition (Submission period February 15-28, 2019, CLOSED Published April 2019)
  • Retribution (Submission period May 15-31, 2019, CLOSED Publishing July 2019)
  • Euphoria (Submission period August 15-31, 2019, CLOSED Publishing October 2019)

Our themes for 2018: Apparition (Published January 2018) – Delusion (PublishedApril 2018) – Vision (Published July 2018) – Diversion (Published October 2018)

Apparition Lit also holds monthly flash fiction contests. These stories will follow selected themes and be published online.

For more information on themes and submission guidelines, please see the flash fiction drop down below.

PAYMENT:

Apparition is a semi-pro rate magazine, paying $0.03 per word, minimum of 30.00 dollars (excluding flash contest. See details in the Flash Fiction dropdown for flash rates). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:

(Click on the sections to see detailed guidelines for each classification.)

SHORT FICTION:

We will only accept stories between 1000-5000 words. If the story is complete with an extra hundred words, then it will still be considered. Any stories over 5,100 words, or incorrectly formatted, will automatically be rejected.

PAYMENT:

Apparition is a semi-pro magazine, paying $0.03 per word, minimum of 30.00 dollars (excluding flash contest). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

HOW TO SUBMIT:

  1. Format the story using the Shunn manuscript
  2. Please only use Times New Roman or Arial font in your document
  3. Save as an RTF file and attach to an email
  4. In the text of the email, provide a brief cover letter that includes your name, the title of the short story, word count, and any relevant publications
  5. Edit the email’s subject line so it reads: SUBMISSION: Title of Your Story
  6. Email your formatted email and short story manuscript to [email protected]
  7. Add Apparition Lit to your Safe Senders list so you can receive our auto-response emails

RESPONSE TIME:

All acceptances and rejections will be emailed by the 15th day of the following month after submissions close.

If you have not heard back by the 15th, send a query to: [email protected] with the title of your submission. Before emailing, please check your spam folder.

To make sure you receive all emails from Apparition Lit, please add us to your Safe Senders list in your email client.

Apparition Lit is seeking original, unpublished speculative fiction that meet our quarterly theme. Speculative fiction is weird, almost unclassifiable. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and literary. We want it all. Send us your strange, misshapen stories.

Send us stories with enough emotional heft to break a heart, with prose that’s as clear and delicious as broth. We’re looking for proactive characters and beautiful language, all wrapped up in a complete story.

Diversity is as important in fiction as it is in real life. We want a mosaic of stories, from authors of all identities and walks of life.

WHAT WE DON’T ACCEPT:

While we love dark stories with macabre elements, we will not accept stories with gratuitous and graphic violence or rape, this includes any type of child abuse including sexual abuse. We also will not consider stories that have extreme, purposeless violence toward animals. Stories containing these elements will be automatically rejected.

We do not publish erotica or thinly-veiled fanfiction.

Please do not send graphic or image files with your submissions. They just bloat our email server and we will delete them immediately.

We do not accept multiple or simultaneous submissions. Please send only one submission per category during each reading period. Apparition Lit wants your best story that meets the current theme. At some point, if your story does not meet the theme, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.

At this time, we do not accept nonfiction, reprints or resubmissions, or unsolicited interviews or reviews. We currently do not accept translations. We hope to in the future, but we’d prefer both the author and translator to be paid for their work, and for both versions to appear when published, so unfortunately, we just don’t have the budget for translations at right now.

Via: Apparition Lit.

Trajan’s Arch Blog Tour – On Mythic Fiction

On Mythic Fiction

Among the intriguing things said by my remarkable Classics professor back in grad school, the one that stuck with me the most was that Greek religion had been invented by poets.  The wedding of story with profound mysteries and truths makes for the best religion and best fiction, I think, and as a writer, even of more realistic (or quasi-realistic) fiction, I like for my work to have a kind of mythic resonance—a feel and structure that deepens the emotional and imaginative feel of a piece.

It’s a quality that I find as well in a lot of fiction I like to read.  Sometimes I can recognize the writing’s specific connection with ancient and powerful sources, but far more often it comes in the hint of the story’s connection to older stories, older patterns—a signal that its intent is to brush up against primal, eternal questions and truths, and more importantly, to treat those truths in all their nuance, complexity, and contradictions.

If part of fiction is, indeed, exploration (and I think it is), tapping into mythic suggestion and pattern can be part of the process of exploring.  Joyce’s Ulysses and George Lucas’s Star Wars films (the early trilogy, and I think the best of them) adopt the structure of myth in very different ways, but all of them brush against profound currents of story, letting us know that the issues they address are common to all of us, complex and deep in their experience.  I think that writers can ready their fiction to enter that kind of realm by listening to old stories, old patterns; so I like to play with myths and structures in the process of inventing stories of my own.

The easiest way to do this is to re-position or “translate” a myth from its world to the one in which your story is set.  I don’t mean a retelling of (or reflection on) the myths (though Canongate’s series contains some remarkable writers), nor do I mean Percy Jackson stories in which mythological figures appear as characters—the Riordan books may be good, but I haven’t read them.  I’m thinking of 20th century novelists like Joyce, Robertson Davies, John Banville, who use myth to underpin stories set in more contemporary realities, lending otherwise realistic stories a kind of evocative feel and intent.

How does a lesser writer get at these qualities?  How do I allow my stories to brush against mythic worlds, to allow opportunities for me to re-examine my otherwise simpler story with an eye toward its larger, wider, and deeper implications?  How do you bring the magic to the mundane, the profound to the everyday?

The easiest way is to “translate” the myth—reset the Odyssey in 20th century Dublin, as Joyce does in Ulysses, or the Orpheus story as that of an Indian rock star, as Salman Rushdie does in The Ground Beneath Her Feet.  This kind of activity asks you to consider everyday life as the stuff of myth, because modern people are still mythmakers, still hunger for rapt and meaningful story, and story set in our own surroundings. In my own novel, Vine: An Urban Legend, I recast Euripides’ Bacchae into a story about a group of amateur actors, working in a small mid-Southern city, set on performing…of all plays…Euripides’ Bacchae.  As the original Greek tragedy did millennia ago, my own story becomes dark and bloody, addressing issues that strike me as large and eternal questions.  Trajan’s Arch combines elements of The Odyssey and of the myth of Orpheus with archetypal patterns of coming-of-age, set in a plausible, even realistic span of the 1970s and 80s.

But the story doesn’t have to retell a myth to recapture the mythic.  There are famous maps and patterns, largely outlining the stages of a hero’s journey, which underlie a number of modern narratives.  Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, Vladimir Propp’s outline of Russian folk tale, Walter Otto’s hero’s journey, the Native American myths of immersion and concealment that are found in women’s rituals of initiation—all can be adopted as story patterns that, if used flexibly and inventively, can give a story depth and universality.

In short, read myths and books about myth.  I’d advise Campbell, Karen Armstrong’s Short History of Myth, and spending a week in the worlds of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  If you don’t emerge with new and transforming ideas for your stories, this exercise is not for you.  I know simply that it is for me, a never-ending and fascinating resource in the craft.

Book Synopsis for Trajan’s Arch:   Gabriel Rackett stands at the threshold of middle age. He lives north of Chicago and teaches at a small community college. He has written one novel and has no prospects of writing another, his powers stagnated by drink and loss. Into his possession comes a manuscript, written by a childhood friend and neighbor, which ignites his memory and takes him back to his mysterious mentor and the ghosts that haunted his own coming of age. Now, at the ebb of his resources, Gabriel returns to his old haunts through a series of fantastic stories spilling dangerously off the page–tales that will preoccupy and pursue him back to their dark and secret sources.

Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines. In Trajan’s Arch, his eleventh novel, stories fold into stories and a boy grows up with ghostly mentors, and the recently published Vine mingles Greek tragedy and urban legend, as a local dramatic production in a small city goes humorously, then horrifically, awry.

Trajan’s Arch and Vine are two of the books in Williams’s highly anticipated City Quartet, to be joined in 2018 by Dominic’s Ghosts and Tattered Men.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the he Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.

Serial Killers: I See the Lake. Part 2

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

I See the Lake. Part 2

Then they began to undress and the cry stuck in my throat. Each wore a shapeless dress, one I remember was bold green, and when they lifted them over their heads, there were no panties beneath. The girls tossed their clothes aside and were as bare as newborns.

Try understand. I’d never seen nude women other than the two-dimensional creatures that lived inside my magazines and even with the distance between us I could make out the happy circles around their nipples and fuzzy patches of hair, two brunettes and one fair.

Not surprising to say, but the flaming nail lost my attention, so it was by complete accident I realised it had disappeared. I scoured the surface but the lake had returned to glass, no trace of disturbance. Five decades of self-doubt was the price I paid for taking my eyes off that fire, but at the time I didn’t care. I was happy to say goodbye, felt a knot loosen in my chest once the flame was gone.

The surrounding rock megaphoned the girl’s voices. One was so close to the water I half expected the lake to jump out and swallow her.

“Don’t go in the water. Go back to your campsite.”

No wonder they didn’t hear me. I didn’t want to yell, didn’t want the water to hear me.

One of them whistled and ran in. I clasped both hands over my mouth and my scream turned to saliva in my palms. She fell forward and became a blurred mass of brown hair and pale skin under the surface. I held my breath as if I were underwater with her. When her head burst out, I thought the noise was a gurgled scream.

“Ah! That’s better,” she said.

I removed my hands.

The other two waded in holding hands, then paddled chin deep into the water, the ripples circled and then happily disappeared. I even heard a sigh of bliss as one of them massaged the lake into her scalp. Those girls expected pleasure and, yes, the water obeyed, the lake loved them. The fair haired girl splashed her friends and the water landed on their faces as rain, not bullets.

But it was the same lake. There was no great space between us, no divide. I scrunched my bleeding toe and released a fresh ripple strong enough to make my eyes run. My pain, mixed with the sound of their happiness, twisted me and an unsettled feeling burrowed deep. I still feel it now, stuck to me like tar on the lungs.

A new voice blasted out the trees, made me jump.

“Hay minx, what’ya doing? You said you’d wait for us.”

Two men weaved out from the drooping branches, one walking behind the other. They were both tall, their hair long like mine, one was topless and so thin I could count his ribs from the distance.

“Aw. Tex I’m sorry babe,” one of the girls called out. She stood up and the water coursed down her back and over the curve of her buttocks. “It’s too hot. Get in here already.”

Another girl waved her hand at the boys. “Charlie, this was a perfect idea. I feel so much better. You’re coming in too, right?”

“You know I am, sweetness, be patient,” said the man named Charlie.

The boys talked with low heads and lower voices and I wondered what they were discussing so seriously. I figured they were talking about the lake, felt like nothing else in the world existed except the damn lake. The girls hooted, beckoned them in with long leg strokes. The boys attempted to ignore them, which seemed like a superpower to my young mind.

“Fuck, Linda I’m coming alright,” said the skinny man, Tex.

Charlie gripped his shoulder and made a gesture that I took to mean ‘we’ll talk later’ and the two of them undressed down to their nothings.

I didn’t call out, not this time. Those two men strolled into the water without a flinch, without even a light bruise. I puffed out. I don’t know what I did wrong but seemed I was the only son-of-a-bitch bitten by the lake.

The men sank real slow and their obvious relief felt like a massive fuck you smack in my face. I stepped backwards, feeling ultimately finished with the lake – finished with the entire holiday – but kept watching. The first stars lit up on the navy blanket above me and I continued to play chicken with the growing darkness.

Tex swam up to the fair haired girl named Linda and wrapped his arm around her teeny waist. He kissed her mouth and then her neck, and I figured that’s what love must look like. He lifted her up in his arms mid kiss, and then pulled away with a grin.

“No, Tex don’t-”

Linda kicked too late. Tex tossed her sideways and dunked her head several times under the surface. She thrashed, a drowning lamb struggling against a hyena.

“Nah man, stop it,” Charlie said. Charlie walked through the water with a girl on his back, her wet arms draped over his chest. The lake parted against his step with such infuriating ease.

“Don’t disturb the spirit of the water. There’s life in water, you know that, and if you show it respect then your body will drink up the spirit. Show some respect.”

“Yeah, Tex,” said the girl on Charlie’s back. “But don’t actually drink the water.”

“Leslie, hush,” Charlie said and Leslie was quiet.

Tex nodded and floated on his back. The third girl rested her head on Tex’s feet, as though she could fall asleep. Poor Linda took Charlie’s hand and they swirled together, Leslie holding tight as his jet pack.

“A song?” said Linda.

Charlie kissed her hand and started to sing. It was a Beatles song, goes something like, ‘she’s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a window pane…’

His voice swarmed the forest and the five swimmers moved in drunken sways. The guy had a good voice, strong without that airy hiss of breathing between the words. Leslie slid off Charlie’s back with her eyes closed and her arms moved under the water below Charlie’s waist.

Charlie stopped singing. “Thank you baby, but don’t do that, not while we have someone watching.”

He pointed towards the rock shelves above him. At me. Every muscle in my body screamed.

Someone whistled. Tex turned to where Charlie pointed and stood up in the water, and all of a sudden he didn’t look so skinny. He was certainly bigger than me.

“Howdy,” Linda waved with both hands. Someone slapped her hands down, but I wasn’t watching to see who. I was climbing. I lurched up the rough stairs of boulders, ducking under branches as I hopped off the rock shelf. A bright pain radiated up my leg, the gash on my toe left a trail of bloody breadcrumbs. The rocks I’d skipped down not so long before I now scrambled to climb up. I never took a backwards glance of the lake and I’m mighty grateful I didn’t.

I reached the top of the sunken forest ledge, the opening between the trees lay dead ahead. That’s as far as I got. Tex caught me by the elbow and pushed me into the dry mud, I caught a rock with my face and grazed my cheek.

“You make yourself comfortable in the dirt, alright?” He yelled without volume. “Don’t move.”

I nodded and sank my head into mud. My t-shirt and pants lay on the rock shelf where I left them, and the sticks and snags prodded my bare chest. My heartbeat prodded right back.

Ash Tudor

Ash Tudor is a horror writer from Perth, Australia who hides from the sunshine while she scribbles dark tales. She has a degree in ancient history and is a trained ancestry researcher, but now devotes her time to creating nightmares. Her debut short story released last year on Writer-Writer and her work has been shortlisted in several competitions. Currently Ash is writing a collection of short horror fiction and hording werewolf teeth in her attic.

Find Ash on Twitter @AshTudor888

 

Taking Submissions: Body & Blood

Deadline: October 18th, 2019
Payment: $20 and a contributor’s copy
Note: Reprints welcome
Note: This submission call is for authors who identify as LGBTQ+

The best definition of erotic horror that we have found is “literature that arouses the reader…and then makes them complicit in the horror that ensues because of that arousal.” From a submission call by Thurston Howl Publications.

Body & Blood is seeking erotic horror with a trashy aesthetic. We’re looking for cult, b-movie style fiction from authors who identify as LGBTQ+. Send us your satanic sex cult orgies, or tales of the abandoned house gone wrong. We want erotic horror at it’s trashiest.

This submission call is for authors who identify as LGBTQ+.  It is encouraged that the characters in your story identify as LGBTQ+ however is not a strict requirement.

Although we have worked on anthologies in the furry community before, this submission call is not seeking furry submissions. Werewolf and monsters are fine, but we are not looking for submissions where anthropomorphic animals are the focus of your story.

Sinister Stoat Press will not accept/tolerate any art and/or written piece featuring children in sexual settings, pedophilia, copywritten characters, rape, gore, torture, forced consent, dubious consent, zoophilia, necrophilia, ableism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, depictions of abusive relationships in a positive light.

Up to 3 stories max.

5500 words max

Reprints are fine, however you must own the full rights to the story before submitting.

Simultaneous submissions accepted.

Payment: a flat payment of $20 and a complimentary copy of the print book.

Via: Weasel Press.

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