Deadline: February 24th, 2020
Theme: Your work MUST also contain elements of the natural world. (Not fans of genre heavy work.)
NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS
THROUGH FEBRUARY 24TH
FOR ISSUE FOUR: EQUINOX
We look forward to surprising and evocative interpretations of this theme!
NEW: Submissions are now initially read BLIND.
Please do not include your name anywhere in your uploaded file.
Please familiarize yourself with Claw & Blossom’s About page to get an idea of the type of work we seek. (For instance: your work MUST contain elements of the natural world.)
For more detailed information on our submission hopes-and-dreams, it’s also a good idea to check out our interview at the Six Questions blog.
For POEMS, send one poem per submission. We are partial to free verse and NOT keen on publishing traditional forms (haiku, haibun, sonnet, rhymed couplets, etc.).
For PROSE, send up to 1,000 words. This can be one piece or linked micros. Feel free to send what moves you, but it’s safe to say we are not big fans of gore/thriller/slasher stories, or romance/erotica. Genre work that comes our way will probably be a tough sell.
We do not consider multiple submissions. We ask that you wait for a response before submitting a new piece.
We do not consider unsolicited submissions of previously-published work.
We encourage simultaneous submissions. Should your work be accepted elsewhere while under consideration with Claw & Blossom, please withdraw the piece from us as soon as possible by using the Withdraw option in Submittable.
There is no submission fee.
We pay $25 USD per acceptance upon publication via PayPal. (Linked micros are considered one acceptance.)
By submitting your work to Claw & Blossom for consideration, it is understood that you understand and accept the following terms:
- That you have actually read our About page, as well as perused some earlier Issues, so that you are not sending us work that (though undoubtedly lovely, or exciting and filled with All the Things) is nonetheless wholly incompatible with our aesthetic (thus making our hair fall out in clumps).
- That the work you send Claw & Blossom is of your own making and has not been plagiarized in whole or in part.
- That Claw & Blossom are purchasing the rights to publish your work on our website and to archive that work in our Issues archive.
If your work published with Claw & Blossom is later reprinted elsewhere, we would appreciate acknowledgement of first publication.
We take submissions through Submittable:
Via: Claw & Blossom.
[NOTE: This is a shortened version of an article that appears on The Write Practice’s blog. For the full article plus examples, read How to Publish a Short Story: The Complete Guide.]
Writing and publishing short stories is the best way to get your name and your work out there to start establishing yourself as a writer. But the process of getting short stories published can seem a tad overwhelming at first. Where do I start? How do I find places that publish short stories? How do I submit a short story for publication?
The thing is, once you know what you’re doing, getting short stories published isn’t as scary as it seems.
How to Submit a Short Story for Publication: The Complete 10-Step Process
Once you’ve gotten your story polished to the shiniest it can be, you’re ready to submit. But how do you go about doing it? What is the professional etiquette for submitting? What should you prepare before you email an editor?
Here are the steps to submitting a short story to a publication:
- Read the guidelines
Ninety-nine percent of publications have guidelines posted on their websites. You probably already read them when you chose your publication, but you’ll need to read them again.
Guidelines are extremely important and you need to follow them. There are publications out there that will reject your story without reading it if you don’t follow the rules.
If that sounds petty, it may be, but as someone who’s edited anthologies before, I can tell you it’s a huge pain if the author didn’t follow instructions. And the last thing you want is to annoy the editor.
Remember, they get hundreds of manuscripts every time they’re open for submissions. They don’t have time to deal with an author who can’t follow instructions. Plus, it’s rude and shows a lack of enthusiasm for the publication to ignore the rules.
I repeat: Read the guidelines and follow them.
- Pay attention to deadlines
Deadlines are there for a reason. They’ll be listed on the publication’s website and you need to abide by them. Don’t think you can sneak in a day late with an excuse. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to wait until the publication opens again or submit elsewhere.
- Format your manuscript properly
An improperly formatted manuscript is another annoyance for editors. Some publications will have specific formatting guidelines they want you to follow (again, check the guidelines), but most will simply want your story in standard manuscript format (Shunn). Go to that link and read the entire document thoroughly! Here’s a final checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
It makes it a lot easier if you format your stories in Shunn format as you write them so you don’t have to tweak later.
- Prepare a bio
You should always have an updated, short author bio ready to go. Bios are written in third person and are often required to be under one hundred words. (You may want to prepare two: one under fifty words and one under one hundred.)
If you have published stories in other publications, you can list them. Choose your three most recent or your three most prestigious. Don’t list everything you’ve ever published, though.
If you don’t have publications, don’t worry! Just leave that part out.
- Prepare an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is pretty much what it sounds like: a one- to two-sentence summary of your story (what you could get out in the time it takes to ride an elevator). You’ll also hear it called a premise, a summary, or a logline.
IMPORTANT: Not every publication will want this. In fact, most don’t. If they don’t specifically say they want a premise, short summary, elevator pitch, etc. in the guidelines, do not send them one.
I do recommend you prepare one at this stage, though. It’ll be easier later on when you’ve forgotten the exact point of your story and you need to have one. It’s also less stressful to have one prepared before submittal.
- Write a cover letter
Cover letters are not nearly as daunting as they seem. They’re really just a few sentences introducing yourself and your story.
You don’t need to fill a page with several paragraphs. In fact, don’t do that! Editors don’t want to spend more time reading your cover letter than they do reading your story, and they don’t need to know what made you want to write or how many pets you have.
Here’s what you need in a cover letter:
Salutation (Dear Editor is normally fine)
Story title and word count
Optional: Elevator Pitch (Again, DO NOT do this unless the publication asks for it.)
Any previous publications (It’s fine if you don’t have any. Just skip this. DO NOT say you’re a novice or this is your first story.)
Thanks and sign.
Most publications take email submissions. Some use other systems, like forms on their site, Moksha, Hey Publisher, or Submittable. You’ll find where and how to submit your story in the publication’s guidelines.
Pay special attention to the guidelines. (I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress this enough.)
Paste your cover letter in the body of your email. Most likely, unless your story is a piece of flash or you’re submitting poems, you will attach your story to the email. This is the standard way to submit, but make sure that’s how your chosen publication wants it.
Make sure you take note of what kind of file the publication wants. Some are okay with a simple DOCX format, but some want an RTF. You can change how the file is saved in the SAVE AS menu.
Make sure your story is attached before sending the email! (Seems ridiculous, but I’ve sent emails without attachments several times.)
If the publication requires a “blind read,” make sure you don’t have any identifying information on the document.
Make sure you have the correct email subject line typed. (Guidelines, again.) If you don’t, it might get lost in a spam filter. If there are no specific guidelines regarding the email subject, go with: SUBMISSION — Your Story Title — Your Last Name.
Proofread your email!
After you’ve done all that, take a deep breath. It’s time.
- Submit again
Check to see if your chosen publication allows simultaneous submissions. If they do, that means you can submit your story to other publications while you’re waiting for a decision. [FYI: Multiple submissions allowed means the publication will take more than one story from you at once.]
I highly recommend submitting to as many publications as you can. The acceptance rate for anthologies and magazines is quite low, so you’re increasing your odds of being published if you get that story out there to as many editors as possible!
- Record your submission
You need to keep track of where you’ve submitted, when you submitted, when you expect to hear back, and what the response was.
There are online options for this, such as The Grinder, but you can use anything that makes you feel comfortable and that you’ll keep accurate. A spreadsheet or notebook would be fine. I double up on my tracking and use a site as well as my own spreadsheet.
You’ll most likely be waiting a while before you hear anything from the publication. This isn’t a quick process and it’s often agonizing to wait for an answer, especially if you’re new to the whole submission process.
Most publications will have their expected response time listed in their guidelines, but they’re often late. Be patient. They’re sifting through hundreds of stories. Whatever you do, DO NOT email them to ask for an update (unless their guidelines say you may after a certain time). It’s unprofessional to do so and won’t earn you any points in the editor’s eyes.
Publish, Publish, Publish!
Getting short stories published is a pretty simple process once you know what you’re doing. (Way simpler than writing!) Getting your writing out there with short story publication is the best way to keep your work on your readers’ minds.
If you get a few rejections along the way, don’t give up! We all get them. It’s part of the writing process.
[To read the remainder of the article with examples of cover letters and bios, read How to Publish a Short Story: The Complete Guide.]
Sarah Gribble is the best-selling author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She’s currently cooking up more ways to freak you out and working on a novel.
Follow her on Instagram @sarahgribblewriter, or join her email list for free scares at https://sarah-gribble.com.
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
Theme: Horror stories set in Hawaii
Note: Reprints Welcome
An anthology dedicated to the unique horrors of Hawaii. We want readers to experience the darkest, scariest, weirdest, most terrifying elements Hawaii has to offer! We’re seeking short horror stories between 500 – 7500 words. Stories must be horror, and they must be reliant on Hawaii somehow. The “how” is entirely up to you! Originals preferred, but reprints will be considered.
Submission Deadline: March 31st or until filled. The anthology target is 50 stories. There is no limit on the number of submissions per author, but we reserve the right to limit the number of accepted stories per author.
As payment, authors will receive royalties divided by word count.
First and foremost, all submissions must be horror.
However, we recognize that horror is a very broad and nuanced genre. To that end, we’ll read stories that fit into other genres (thriller, family drama, coming of age, science fiction, fantasy, comedy, romance, et cetera) as long as the story contains horror, and as long as horror is integral to the narrative.
ALL submissions MUST meet the following requirements (documents that do not meet these guidelines will be returned to authors for correction):
1. 12-point Times New Roman font ONLY (no other fonts, please)
2. Use “SMART QUOTES”
3. Submit all documents as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .pages format
Submit via email to [email protected]
In the body of the email, include your name and contact information.
Unpublished stories are given preference, but we consider reprints on a case by case basis, as long as all rights have reverted to the author.
If your previously unpublished piece is accepted for publication in an anthology, we take First Print and Electronic Publishing Rights, with exclusivity for twelve months from the date of publication.
If we accept your reprint for publication in an anthology, we take nonexclusive reprint rights.
A copy of our publishing contract is available upon request.
Via: Soteira Press.
Deadline: February 21st, 2020
Payment: $5 for anything under 5000 words. $10 for anything over 5000 words.
Theme: Ghost stories! ‘Nuff said
Note: Reprints Welcome
For this anthology, we’re looking for the best of the best ghost stories. The kind you tell around a crackling campfire holding back the darkness surrounding you. The kind that stick with you as you make the dark trek to your car through an empty parking garage. The kind that make you sit wide eyed in the middle of the night because the rhythmic tapping from the other room is just a little too inconsistent and, somewhere deep down, you’re sure it’s getting closer.
Give us new and exciting takes on old tropes, give us original horror, give us classic ghost stories told expertly, give us comedic stories of spirits that are more a nuisance than a threat. We’re hoping to make this anthology larger than our first two so there’s plenty of room for all types of stories in this one, as long as they’re about ghosts.
Anthology Title: TBD
Word Count: 2,000 – 7,500. A little over or under is fine.
Payment: $5 for anything under 5000 words.
$10 for anything over 5000 words.
Authors will have the opportunity to purchase an author copy at print cost plus shipping after release.
Submission Deadline: 2/21/2020
Multiple submissions welcome.
Reprints will be considered.
Please send all submissions as a .docx or .rtf attachment with the subject line of your email as:
DBND – Ghost Stories – Story Title
If you email is not titled this way it may end up in the wrong folder and go unread.
Stories sent after the submission deadline will be rejected unread.
Don’t sit on your submission! If we reach the word count for the anthology, we will close submissions early.
Send submissions to: [email protected]
Via: DBND Publishing.
The word TOP 10 written in vintage metal letterpress type on a soft backlit background.
I am pushing 50 years old. My mum taught me to read before I started school. That means I have over 40 years of reading under my belt. I was not even 10 when my grandmother introduced me to pulp fiction, especially science fiction, some old horror, and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. However, after being introduced to Stephen King on my 12th birthday, I found my true reading love. And so more than 30 years of horror reading began (although, as you will see, it did start before then, it just wasn’t quite so all-encompassing).
I don’t exclusively read horror (nor exclusively write it), but it is my first love. The problem is, many modern horror books just don’t do it for me. They go for gore or overt sexuality at the expense of a tight, taut story, or are cliché-filled bore-fests. And talking about this with some other writer/readers, I decided to present ten horror works produced in my lifetime that have disappeared from the collective consciousness, and yet that I think are well worth re-appraising.
Now, we are not going to have any of the usual suspects here. No Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Dean Koontz, et al. And no anthologies. These are stand-alone stories that I like.
And, tempted as I was, I am not going to include my own work Sins Of The Fathers (https://www.amazon.com/Sins-Fathers-S-Gepp-ebook/dp/B07XBDP2RF/ and https://www.bookdepository.com/Sins-Fathers-S-Gepp/9781947227408 and Barnes & Noble…). Even though I am amazingly biased, I think it is a fine horror book.
I present these in order of year released, except the last one… but I’ll explain that when I get there. And I will try not to include spoilers. So, hopefully, here are 10 books that you will seek out and enjoy as much as I have.
1) Uncle Gustav’s Ghosts by Colin Thiele (1974)
This was the first horror story I ever read. I was apparently 6 years old and I loved it. It is more a children’s/young adult book (as most of Thiele’s works are) but even reading it as an adult, he mixed horror and humour and great characters so brilliantly. With an introduction like this, it’s no wonder I fell in love with horror. Set in South Australia (where I have lived my whole life), a missing bride comes back with poltergeist activity to afflict a family. Simple, yes, but so well written. Amazing book.
I will add here I was fortunate enough to meet Colin Thiele when I was in primary school (I would have been about 9 or so) and he autographed my copy of this book. It is still one of my most cherished books.
2) The Curse Of Loch Ness by Peter Tremayne (1979)
I did not read this until over ten years after its release, but it was something that struck me because it took a thing so common – the monster of Loch Ness – and turned it on its head. None of my friends liked it, but I didn’t care. The way the build-up of terror is done is quite eerie. There is a lot of foreshadowing, though, and some of the appearances of the true monsters feel a little contrived, but it feels like the pulp fiction I love and it just rattles along at a nice pace.
3) The Shaman by Frank Coffey (1980)
Quick side-story. I wrote my first “long story” in 1982, at the age of 11. Around 30k words long, it was as crap as you would expect from that sort of a kid. But it told me I could do it. I started high school the next year, and by 1985 I was again writing long stories. After a few attempts, a friend gave me this book because, according to her, I wrote like this guy. Not as good (she was always honest with me, for which I will be forever grateful) but the same sort of style. So I read it. Reading it again recently – yeah, this is the pulp fiction I write. A tale of Aztec magic and human sacrifice, its horror is mixed in well with a history of the Aztecs without it being info-dump time. And it also showed me that the ending can be a happily ever after one in horror. I also like that a lot of the horror is implied; there is not a lot of gore. Yeah, this one resonated with me as a teenager.
4) Tricycle by Russell Rhodes (1983)
A blind teacher, a sex-starved woman with a creepy five year old son who rides a squeaking tricycle, a flood, mysterious deaths – this story has a lot in it, and yet it manages for the most part to keep up a sense of dread. The story is well-written – there are some literary allusions throughout, which feel a little odd – and the blindness of the teacher is well-written. Only the ending lets it down. Still, up till then, a strange little story.
5) Monkey Shines by Michael Stewart (1983)
A former athlete becomes crippled, and is given a monkey helper. So far, so good, possibly a tale of man and animal working together. Well, yes… and no. See, the monkey is given psychotropic drugs to increase its intelligence. Then the owner starts to take the drugs as well. And they share dreams, and things spiral out of control from there. This is a slow-burn horror novel. It’s a style I have tried myself, only to be told it does not sell that well any longer, but I enjoy it. However, again, the ending leaves a bit to be desired, with things wrapped up a little too neatly. But until then, a nice study in terror.
6) The Long Night Of The Grave by Charles L. Grant (1986)
The final book in a trilogy I have not read, but it stands well enough on its own. This is a story of the mummy, the good ol’ Universal monster. An ancient Egyptian mummy in a small town in England is brought back to life by some priests, people are killed and it feels like it was pushing for a chance to be made into a movie. Despite this, there is a nice feeling of impending doom over everything. Maybe not complete terror, but there is an uneasiness, and the characters do come to life on the page. And the ending definitely left the story open.
7) Saurian by William Schoell (1988)
When I first read this in the mid-1990s, I did not like it. I think I was comparing it to the works of Stephen King, which I was devouring completely (I was working and could afford to fill in the gaps in my collection). However, I had the chance to re-read it a few years ago, and I was much more impressed. Okay, sure, it has one of the worst-written female characters I have come across in modern horror, and the monsters seem to gain new powers as the book goes on, but this is an incredibly original monster. Alien mutant things crash-land on Earth, and adopt the first form they come across – dinosaurs. Fast forward and one can also become a human now, and he destroys sea-side communities (as a monster) so he can build more expensive properties there (as a man). What takes this above crap territory is Schoell’s amazing grasp of place. His descriptions of where things are happening are so good, they really do add to the book and make it better than it otherwise would have been.
8) The Wrath by David L. Robbins (1988)
Let’s go back to ancient Egypt again! But we don’t have mummies this time – now we have a plague. It turns people into a strange undead dog-like creature. It reads like Indiana Jones meets 28 Days Later. There’s martial arts, the army, a stupid woman putting everyone’s lives at risk and it is a fun ride. But… the women are portrayed as such 2-dimensional ciphers they might as well be cardboard cut-outs. They are given no real character. And the ending is, frankly, stupid and too neat. I think it might have over-reached itself. Still, fun read, just turn your brain off to do so.
9) On The Edge by Margaret Visciglio (2014)
Wow, there’s a jump in years! And it shows what I came to think of horror produced in that time not by some of the big names. Unfortunately. We were dumped with more vampires than you could shake a stick at, or gorefests with all the scares of a House of Horrors at a carnival. Then Margaret (who has been a supporter of my work as well) released this. It is for young adults, it is almost fantasy, but it is so well-written and the characters live on the page. In rural South Australia, a family find a three-headed cat and they have to decide between protecting it and letting vested interests take control. It is a bit preachy about ecological issues (I don’t mind that, personally), and the horror diminishes in the last half, but still a great book well worth tracking down.
10) Pig by Kenneth Cook (1980)
Now, first, the reason this is at the end of the list. This is my favourite Australian book. Ever. Any genre. Bar none. It is easily in my top 5 books of all time. I am biased – I love this book. Basically, it is the story of one conservationist’s desire to kill the largest feral pig he has ever come across, leading a horde of other feral pigs across the Australian outback. The final third of the book is just such an exhausting roller-coaster ride of adventure that I could not put it down. My aunt gave me this book when I was about 13 years old or so and she discovered I liked horror; this was the first ever “adult” book I read in less than 2 days. I could not put it down. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the far inferior Razorback and its awful film adaptation with a terrible puppet pig. This is so much better. I know some people have an issue with the lack of chapters; don’t care. This is so well written and so well plotted and so well described, it stands head and shoulders above so many books that are better known and regarded more highly. If you can find a copy – get it. Read it. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Now, I am the first to admit that not all of these will appeal to everyone, and that many are quite clearly of their time. The 1980s have a lot to answer for, and some of the story tropes visible here are proof of that. But these are fun reads and something different in light of the horror that is available today.
Deadline: April 10th, 2020
Payment: 50% to publisher and 50% split amongst contributors evenly
Theme: Scary Stories of Workplace Terror
Stuck in a dead end job? Wish you could get payback on that boss you don’t like? Or maybe it’s a coworker stalking you, or the coffee room rituals that is getting to you. Either way; we want these scary stories all about the workplace. Because Horror is for Hire! Read below the details of our newest anthology.
Title: Horror for Hire
Subtitle: Scary Stories of Workplace Terror
Word count: Max 5k words, minimum 2k words.
Payment info: 50% to publisher and 50% split amongst contributors evenly.
Email to: [email protected]
We are looking for:
stories of workplace woes, sticking it to the boss in the worst way. Think of the job you hate the most and add horror to it and make it 10 times worse. You can submit non-fiction but please change names if so. We prefer exclusive stories to allow for Kindle Unlimited release. Limit of 3 per author but please submit as many as possible and we will sort through them.
Submissions open: January 13 2020
Deadline: April 10th 2020
Releasing: Spring 2020
We have a Facebook group which will be in the comment thread below.
Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
Title: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories
Author: Richard Matheson
Publisher: Non Basic Stock Line
Release Date: 5th January, 2002
Remember that monster on the wing of the airplane? William Shatner saw it on The Twilight Zone, John Lithgow saw it in the movie-even Bart Simpson saw it. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is just one of many classic horror stories by Richard Matheson that have insinuated themselves into our collective imagination.
Here are more than twenty of Matheson’s most memorable tales of fear and paranoia, including:
“Duel,” the nail-biting tale of man versus machines that inspired Steven Spielberg’s first film;
“Prey,” in which a terrified woman is stalked by a malevolent Tiki doll, as chillingly captured in yet another legendary TV moment;
“Blood Son,” a disturbing portrait of a strange little boy who dreams of being a vampire;
“Dress of White Silk,” a seductively sinister tale of evil and innocence.
Personally selected by Richard Matheson, the bestselling author of I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come, these and many other stories, more than demonstrate why he is rightfully regarded as one of the finest and most influential horror writers of our generation.
Nightmare At 20,000 Feet (336 pages, pub Jan 5, 2002) is a collection of twenty short stories, previously published in an eclectic mix of magazines from Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine to Playboy.
In addition to his well-known novels, many of which have been turned into successful Hollywood films, Matheson has decades of short story publication behind him. He’s also written episodes for much-loved TV shows like “The Twilight Zone”.
The title story, the first in the anthology, explores the terror of aviation flying. My son has a private pilot’s license, so I don’t believe that terror to be true, but it’s fun to suspend disbelief. The rest of the book explores a variety of themes. In “Mad House”, forty-year-old English lecturer Chris Neal is pushed to his limit by the breakdown of his marriage, the strains of teaching, and that old friend—writer’s block. He reminded me of a turbo-charged version of Vladimir Nabokov’s heroes—broken and overwhelmed by all the demands placed upon him, slowly losing touch with reality. Unlike Nabokov’s gentle sufferers, Chris embraces his anger:
“His thoughts drained off. He felt empty and helpless. He felt as though he could never write another word for the rest of his life. Maybe, he thought, sullenly displeased with the idea, maybe it was only the upset of her leaving that enabled my brain to find words.”
Pressures of a wholly different kind face Jules in “Blood Son”, a vampire tale with a difference. I don’t know why we always assume the victim resists that first bite. I love how Matheson’s short story comes with a lighthearted twist:
“He found the page on the vampire bat. He tore it out and threw the book away.
He learned the selection by heart.
He knew how the bat made its wound. How it lapped up blood like a kitten drinking cream.”
My personal favourite is “Wet Straw”, in which John passes the lonely hours with a visit to an art gallery where he discovers that the pictures trigger powerful and painful memories of his late wife:
“He stopped in front of it.
It was a painting of a countryside. There was a big barn down in the valley.
He began to breathe heavily, and his fingers played on his tie. How ridiculous, he thought after a moment, that such a thing should make me nervous.”
“Wet Straw” was sad and moving, but also profoundly discomforting.
You could say that about a lot of Matheson’s fiction, and I think emotional honesty lies at the heart of its continuing appeal.
Welcome to another edition of Trembling With Fear. We’re only a few weeks in to the New Year but already the world around us is beginning to resemble those celluloid imaginings of many a post-apocalyptic film. Fires rage out of control and a new virus jumps from animal to human causing concern amongst governments. Who needs horror when we’ve got all this going on? Answer we do. We can write reality onto the page and work out our fears in safety. Horror writing is a catharsis of many a nightmare.
Now to the nightmares in Trembling With Fear. The first story up is A Country Cottage by Fiona Jones. The writer paints a perfect picture postcard image of the rural idyll. So many little details of flowers and foliage are coloured in, with just the right hint of something dark lurking beneath those plants and within the cottage itself. Gradually the sense of colour changes, the dark rises up and out. The contrast and the change in the balance of colour moves the story along as well as the physical interaction with the cottage’s owner.
Bone Tree by Catherine Berry is typical of the torments of a younger sibling at the hands of their older brother or sister. The story leads to a nightmare or is it real? Childhood fears and torments are always a rich source for material.
7% by Melissa Elborn reminds us of the stuff of life, what is truly central to our survival – almost simply so.
Zombie Prank by Norbert Gora focusses on the conflict between what you know is real or unreal and what you see. Playing on this idea of the possible versus the impossible and what a person believes can lead to many interesting scenarios.
Valentine’s Special Call for Submissions
Ahh, Valentine’s Day…a celebration of undying love and romance, a time to do something special for the one you love. But it’s not all hearts and flowers, is it? For the upcoming Valentine’s Special, we’re looking for stories that crawl upon the underbelly of romance…obsession, crimes of passion, and love that continues perhaps long after it should. Relationships that have run their course. Evil deeds done in the name of love. Love letters to the damned.
Need to get rid of the foul taste of bad romance? Pick up your poison pen and write about it. Send us your short stories, drabbles, and Unholy Trinities that reflect upon the dark side of love.
Stories can be sent directly to Catherine at [email protected]
As you’re reading this, my project for work has launched and I (in theory) have some breathing room again! We’ll see if that actually happens but I’ll need to play catch up wither way.
A couple key notes!
- TWF needs more shorts and drabble! (Specifically drabble) 😉
- Our WIHM features aren’t full yet. If you’d like to contribute, PLEASE reach out to [email protected] soon!
- I’ll be hunting down a cover in the coming weeks and we can hopefully push forward on our next anthology release soon!
A Country Cottage
A sweet, chocolate-box picture of an old cottage: thatched, low-gabled, timbered in mediaeval style, with leaded windows. A traditional-style garden: rambling roses on trellises against the house, geraniums in flowerpots, lavender at the borders, sweet peas in hanging baskets beside the door. Scents and colours crowded so vividly you would never notice the slender green-black spikes of something like cacti standing here and there between the livelier plants, pushing upwards from every patch of soil—even from the red clay flowerpots and painted window-boxes.
“Eh, I know who lives up along there,” Mr Parry said. “Course I do, lived here going on eighty-nine years myself. Old Mrs Kennaway, that’s her. Old as the hills she is. You want to steer clear of her.” He shook his head and would say no more.
Mrs Kennaway pottered in her garden on fine mornings, a small, tidy-looking figure always in floral pinks. Her eyes, pale-grey and slightly dazed in expression, seemed to look past you, but she would pass the time of day in a mildly plaintive, faraway voice. She would offer a newly-potted flower or a home-baked scone, or invite you in to share a pot of tea in delicate china cups and saucers.
A smell of fresh baking seemed always to fill her cottage; and under that, the clean-swishing scent of laundry—and below that again, a hint of lavender, thin-bluish as a distant plume of wood-smoke. You would have to have a keen nose indeed to discover, beneath it all, the iron tang of blood, old blood, impure like the fluids of an uncleaned wound.
Strangers, tourists, would pause by Mrs Kennaway’s front gate to admire her classic little dwelling. They marvelled at the old-fashioned cottage with its beautifully-preserved windows and perfect thatch, or they gazed in delight at her picturesque old garden, brimming with all the right blooms in all the right places. They would photograph the scene, and some would return to photograph it again, disappointed with their first attempts, which never seemed to capture the beauty of the place.
A long-established garden will withstand a few months of neglect without any startling change. When the doors and windows of the picture-postcard cottage stayed shut for three months and more, the garden hardly seemed to alter. Only a few of the red-potted geraniums, standing out of rain, withered, leaving pointed, thorny dark spikes visible in their place. All the other foliage and flowers still thickly disguised the long, fanglike growths intruding into their midst.
“Eh, well, it’s been a while now,” Mr Parry said. “She’s in the hospital, just a chest infection, but she’d nearly died this last Easter, and they do say…” He lowered his voice. “They say a sudden illness changes you like. Changes your character.”
He coughed and took a swig of his tea—strong milky tea in a thick mug stained with nothing else but tea.
“You know what though, I don’t believe it,” he resumed. “You can change your clothes and suchlike: can’t change who you are. When the walls break down, what you see’s what was hiding back there all along.”
Mrs Kennaway must have recovered soon after, enough to return home, for doors and windows opened again in the little white cottage, and her pink-floral form moved to and fro near the house—perhaps a little less frequently, a little more hesitantly. She would no longer call “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”, but would mutter to herself as though angry or afraid. Once or twice that autumn she straightened up as though recollecting herself, smiled a disconcertingly toothy smile, and repeated her customary offers of cakes and teatimes, but the occasional smells of cooking or cleaning could no longer disguise the thick-seeping odour of blood.
“Ah, well, it’s a sad life for her now, poor old gal,” Mr Parry commented. “You’d think she’d get a home help in, or even just a gardener now and then, but she’ll none of it.” He nodded sagely. “No, she don’t want anyone coming in. Secrets, that’s what. She’ll not have eyes and ears round her place that she can’t pull the wool over.”
Mrs Kennaway’s health improved over the winter and following spring; at all events, her movements became gradually more agile and she made herself as busy as ever. But the flowers of her garden began to wither or go to seed. Sometimes the old woman could pull a couple of geraniums into leaf, or coax a rose-bush into pink-yellow flower, but the mysterious dark protrusions spiked upwards out of shrunken, colourless foliage and dull shedding blooms all around her, and the darkness of earth would gleam on her gloves like oil, dripping slowly downwards back into her soil.
“Do come in,” she said. “So lovely to see you. I’ll make a nice cup of tea.” She took her gardening gloves off, spent a long time washing her hands.
“No, it’s all right,” she said, suddenly snappish. “It’s my kitchen. No, I don’t need help. You go and wait in the dining room.”
The tea tray, when she finally brought it, held the usual china teapot, three cups and saucers, a light sponge cake and a heavy-duty bread knife. No plates or spoons.
“Yes, that’s right, three cups,” she said impatiently. “Three of us for tea. You, me, and Luci. He’s always been kind to me, Luci has. Sit down!”
She poured the tea, placing one cup in front of an empty chair. The teacup stood there on its saucer, unmoving, of course—but the level of tea within it seemed gradually to fall as though the cup had cracked… and yet no leak made itself visible either in the saucer or on the tablecloth.
Mrs Kennaway began to cut the cake.
Suddenly she turns towards me, her pale eyes focusing for the first time just behind my own, like a snake remembering how to strike. And I turn, too, and run, unharmed I think, out of the house and through the short garden, dodging the knifelike spikes of blackish vegetation that seem to bend, to lean towards me. I run and run, searching for the gate, trying to remember where it stood open just a short while before. The snake eyes never leave mine, twist and turn as I might, my breath giving out and my legs slowing as though in treacle. I duck and dodge again to avoid the quickening touch of the spiking forms around me. They do not look like cacti now.
Fiona Jones is a creative writer living in Scotland. She is a regular contributor to Folded Word, and has short fiction on Silver Pen, Buckshot Magazine and various others. Her published work is visible via @FiiJ20 on Facebook, Twitter and Thinkerbeat.
She lies in the dark, watching the shadows, waiting. Her cousin had told her the truth about the apple tree. Gnarled and barren, it sat like a squat, dark figure in the front yard. The hollow trunk and brittle branches were more sinister than she’d realized.
“It’s a doorway,” her cousin said. “At night, skeletons creep out, tear the skin off people, and steal their bones.”
Pulling the covers to her chin, she holds her breath. The tree groans and screeches. The shadows begin to jerk and sway. A soft clattering grows louder. A rattling gets closer.
Catherine Berry lives in Michigan, sings with her dog, and loves potatoes. Her work has been published in Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear and in the anthologies Trembling With Fear: Year 1 and Trembling With Fear: Year 2.
More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com
If you cut me then I bleed red blood. Red for danger. Red for passion. Red for life – for the dead don’t bleed.
But the vampires have it wrong. Only 7% of the body is blood. A mere five litres compared to the 45 litres of water inside us. We’re told to drink two litres of water a day; we’re dead in four days without it.
It is every drop of water you need to suck from my empty vessel; vacuuming my skin until it glues to my bones forever. We don’t need flesh and blood; we are immortal.
Melissa Elborn writes short horror fiction and is a former award-winning journalist. She haunts deepest, darkest Bedfordshire in England with her husband, daughter and two black cats. Her work has previously featured in Siren’s Call eZine.
Author blog: melissaelborn.com/
Zombies don’t exist, I thought, seeing the bloodthirsty horde in front of me. Their stench, however, assured me that what I saw was real. The first of the clumsy undead approached me and leaned toward my head. I was sure it was going to bite my skull at any moment.
“Don’t eat my brain,” I squeaked.
“Oh, I won’t deny myself such sweetness,” it replied and then a second voice came from somewhere in the crowd. “Got it!”
A camera slid out from among the roaring zombies.
“What the hell?” I asked, incredulous.
“It’s Ashton Zombietcher and you got punk’d.”
I first discovered Jeff Strand in 2010 when a novel titled Dweller arrived in my mailbox as part of the monthly Leisure Books horror club back in the day.
After reading it, Dweller instantly clawed into my Top 10 all-time books. It chronicled the entire decades-long friendship started between a lonely boy and an even lonelier Bigfoot-like creature. It was horror but unlike any horror I’d ever read before.
I met Strand at a Bigfoot conference in Georgia last year where he and his talented artist/wife Lynne were selling their books and art at one of the booths. I, of course, had to have him sign my copy of Dweller, and I even bought a print of his wife’s Dweller cover.
While mostly known as a master of horror-comedy, Strand writes straight horror with the best of the genre. Two of his novels, Dweller and Pressure, were nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. His short story, “Tipping Point,” won a Splatterpunk Award for Best Short Story.
With more than 40 books to his name, Strand released four more in 2019. The plots ranged from zombie animals and a serial killer with family issues to clowns versus spiders and werewolves.
So, which one was the most difficult to write and which one was the most fun?
“Ferocious was the most difficult to write because of its simplicity,” Strand said in an exclusive interview with Horror Tree. “Two characters in a cabin surrounded by zombie animals. It was basically just a constant series of ‘Okay, now they’re totally screwed again. How do I get them out of this?” decisions.
“The most fun to write, and I suspect that this answer will surprise you, was My Pretties. Something like Clowns Vs. Spiders seems like it would be an absolute blast to write, but the absurd-yet-scary tone was a fairly tricky balancing act, and I’m slow at writing action sequences. My Pretties is more about suspense than action, and I really enjoyed figuring out how to parse out the information that revealed the big twist.”
Strand returned to his Wolf Hunt series in 2019, continuing the story of his two beloved characters, George and Lou. Why does Strand keep returning to these characters?
“About halfway through writing the first Wolf Hunt book, I thought, ‘I love these guys! Maybe I’ll write another one!’ But I focus on original novels far more than sequels, which has meant a four-to-five-year gap between each of the George and Lou novels, and that, my friend, is a terrible way to do a series. Though compared to my Andrew Mayhem series, I am blasting out the Wolf Hunt novels at a lightning-fast pace!
“Wolf Hunt 3 came from reader demand and the fact that Wolf Hunt 2, though it didn’t have a cliffhanger ending, left plenty of unanswered questions. So, there was always going to be a third book … but when? A combination of elements made me decide that it was finally time to bring these poor bastards back. I don’t consider this the final book of a trilogy, but I did purposely write it so there doesn’t have to be a Wolf Hunt 4.
“Jumping back into these characters was effortless. I could write an entire novel of just George and Lou driving and talking. But, of course, the series is also about insane, over-the-top action, so I had to make sure the book delivered that aspect as well. If Wolf Hunt 2 is the darkest and meanest book, Wolf Hunt 3 is the weirdest and sickest.”
On January 13th, Canada’s Binge Bros. Productions announced they were optioning Strand’s 2016 young adult novel, The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, for a movie adaptation. Strand wrote the screenplay himself, admitting he had to cut a lot of content.
“There’s actually stuff happening with several other books, but it’s all under a thick veil of secrecy,” Strand said. “Well, not Disposal — I’m allowed to say that Buffalo, New York filmmaker Mick Thomas is writing and directing that. The gag orders usually don’t bother me, although with one project in particular it’s kind of maddening.
“The process for The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever involved viciously hacking and slashing away as much of the book as I could. ‘Okay, here’s a page of really funny dialogue, but can I figure out a way to trim it down to two lines?’ I couldn’t be precious about anything, because even with what I thought was a brutal culling, my first draft was waaaayyyy too long for a goofy comedy about kids making a zombie flick. So, I got out my machete and chopped away even more. It’s still too long, but we’ll work that out as I enter the ‘working directly with the producer/directors on the rewrite’ stage.”
Strand said he never thinks about actors playing roles in his books.
“I never think about specific actors when I write a novel, and when people ask who I’d cast, I’m usually at a complete loss.” Strand said. “That didn’t change when I adapted my book into a screenplay. Other people will be making those decisions.”
Up next for Strand is a novel tentatively titled Hazel.
“Hazel is about a middle-aged woman with telekinetic powers that she can’t control,” Strand said. “She can make you raise your hand into the air … but she’ll probably break your arm in the process. If she gets emotional, very bad things can happen to the people around her. She’s learned to manage it through prescription medication and by basically staying away from other human beings as much as possible. Enter a desperate hit man, his pregnant girlfriend, and a scam so cruel that no amount of pills can mute Hazel’s reaction.
“There’s not a publication date yet, but I will narrow it down to ‘reasonably soon.’ Beyond that, I’m being tight-lipped about other forthcoming projects. I’ll say that one of them will make long-time fans happy, and another will be something completely different from me. I do have a specific publication date in mind, and I may spring these upon the world with little or no advance notice! Beware!”
Since Horror Tree is a site that supports writers with markets, publicity, and writing advice, I asked Strand if he can offer any tips to writers.
“That’s a really tough question because self-publishing has opened up a completely different path to success,” Strand said. “Twenty years ago, I could stand behind a podium and say, ‘First, you need to find an agent,’ and nobody would scream ‘Liar! There are other ways to go about it!’ It’s not even just about what works best for a specific author. I’m a hybrid author; I do both traditional and self-publishing, so it’s about what works best for a specific book! It’s extremely difficult to give any kind of useful advice without actually talking to people about what they want out of their career.
“But I’m not gonna wuss out on your interview question. One piece of advice that is perhaps even more relevant now is ‘Don’t be in a hurry to be published!’ I was in a hurry to be published, but I didn’t have a choice. The gatekeepers said ‘Nope, not yet!’ It horrifies me to think that today’s options, where I can finish a book and people can buy it a few hours later, might have been available way back when I only thought I was producing publishable work. You can’t imagine the crap I would’ve put out into the world.
“So, don’t be in a hurry. Practice novels are totally cool. There’s no shame in your first novel never being published. There’s no shame in your first ten novels never being published. Like a sport or a musical instrument, you’ve gotta practice to get good at it!”
Deadline: November 15th, 2020
Payment: $.03 per word, capped at $150 usd, and 2 free contributor copies.
Theme: Truly terrifying stories that deal with futuristic themes, set in the near future or far.
Corpus Press is now accepting submissions to Volume 3 of the successful In Darkness, Delight anthology series (publication target 2021) to be edited by Evans Light and Andrew Lennon. Submissions should be story-driven and appeal to a wide adult audience.
We seek truly terrifying stories that deal with futuristic themes, set in the near future or far. Tales can be Earth-based or extraterrestrial, perhaps featuring technological or social upheavals that have frightful implications for individuals or society at large; as examples, the ongoing erosion of privacy and enduring nature of online activity, artificial human enhancement via DNA manipulation or implants, impact of emerging technologies on developing children, and so on. (Think bigger than stories about an interesting app, even though that might be where thoughts go first. The few slots allocated for app stories will be filled very quickly.)
Post-apocalyptic stories will not be accepted. Rather, we desire fiction that occurs during periods preceding any total collapse, be they stable or unstable times. The horrors that await us in utopian futures may be far more chilling and fascinating than those endemic to dystopias, and therein lies our primary interest.
We’re more interested in “fiction” than “science”; this is a horror anthology first and foremost, not a science fiction anthology. To that end, your math doesn’t have to work out to five decimal points for every forward-thinking concept you present. Merely plausible is good enough.
If you’re looking for popular culture references to give you a general feel, here are a few: Annihilation, Alien, Pandorum, Under the Skin, Cube, Slither, The Thing, They Live, Mimic, Black Mirror, Outer Limits, The Fly, Event Horizon, and other horror/sci-fi hybrids. Again, we’re not really seeking stories about apps (hint, hint).
What we ARE looking for:
• Short stories of 2,500-4,500 words that can be characterized as being within the broad category of “horror” fiction and having a futuristic theme as described above. No reprints.
• Successful submissions will be highly original, well written and cleanly edited.
• Stories must hook the reader in opening paragraphs and remain engaging throughout.
• Stories that imagine fresh new horrific futures different from anything we’ve seen or read about before.
What we ARE NOT looking for:
• We are not seeking “extreme horror” or “Splatterpunk” material. We discourage submissions that have a singular purpose of shocking readers with explicit language, sexuality and/or violence. Explicit language, sexuality and violence are acceptable, however, if handled in a tasteful manner and in service to a well-plotted, engaging story.
• We are not seeking abstract mood pieces, vignettes, and highly experimental approaches to literature are discouraged. We are not accepting poems.
• We are not seeking: Stories with an overly humorous tone; Retro sci-fi/steampunk; Trunk stories; Stories hastily retrofitted with superficial futuristic references. Stories must not include actual individuals or living public figures.
• We are not seeking stories that primarily deal with the emotions of sadness or loss.
• We are not seeking stories featuring exaggerated dialects, colloquialisms or excessive references to pop culture or current fads are discouraged.
• We are not seeking post-apocalyptic or zombie stories.
• Epistolary fiction will not be accepted (stories told in the form of a journal, letters, etc).
Submissions must be in an editable format sent via the publisher’s submission portal. No PDFs or scanned documents sent as image files will be accepted. Preference is for title, author name, email address and word count information to be placed at the beginning of the document.
Please Note: Do not utilize underlining in place of italics. Do not insert extra lines between paragraphs. Utilize a single space only between sentences. Do not insert tab indents at the beginning of paragraphs.
Submission window: January 4, 2020 until midnight EST November 15, 2020.
Notifications of acceptance / rejection will be sent no later than November 30, 2020, with publication target of 2021. We will do our best to send out acceptances / rejections as promptly as possible so that you may have the chance to submit the work elsewhere if it does not meet our needs.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBMISSION DOES NOT GUARANTEE ACCEPTANCE.
Pay Rate: $.03 per word.
Payment will be capped at $150 USD for accepted submissions (we prefer stories between 2,500-4,500 words; longer stories may be submitted, but will only be paid at the cap rate. 7,500 is a firm maximum word count. You are welcome to submit stories with a word count of less than 2,500 words, but they are not likely to be accepted).
Two (2) free contributor copies (paperback) will be provided upon publication, with contributors having the option to buy additional quantities at cost post-publication. Payment on publication.
Anthology target length: Approximately 250-300 pages.
PLEASE READ AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE FOLLOWING:
Submitting work through this portal constitutes your formal agreement to the following terms:
No multiple or simultaneous submissions. Stories may not be withdrawn from consideration prior to review by Corpus Press without the express written consent of the editors. Corpus Press reserves first right to publication of all submissions.
Via: Corpus Press.