The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with Shannon Lawrence

Selene – Welcome to The Horror Tree, and thanks for agreeing to this interview! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.

 

Shannon – Hi, I’m excited to be here! I’m a mom of two, hiker, horror author, and over-thinker who loves research and freaky things. I live in Colorado Springs, in the foothills of the Rockies, and I love the rugged beauty of the area. I do miss the ocean, having always lived on the coast before I came here, but the mountains have claimed me, and I’m not sure I could leave them.

 

Selene – How long have you been writing, and what draws you to the horror genre?

 

Shannon – Like most of us, I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but I started writing for publication about four or five years ago, and that’s also when I started actively submitting short stories to magazines. As for what draws me to horror, I got hooked on it as a kid when I’d read historical “real” ghost stories and collections of horror short stories for middle grade, which mostly consisted of urban legend-type tales. I discovered Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe in elementary school, and I was hooked.

 

Even before I started reading these stories, though, I had a grandmother who used to take me to horror movies. She loved them. My mom used to get so mad at her! I was five years old when she took me to see Cat People at the theatre. Given, my parents had shelves full of horror novels by King and Koontz, and they never restricted my reading (though I snuck my first few Stephen King novels—better to apologize than to ask permission?)

 

Selene – I bought a Kindle copy of your collection, Blue Sludge Blues, and read a few of the stories. The next couple of questions will deal with that collection. Do you write only short stories, or do you work in the longer form, as well? What about short stories appeals to you?

 

Shannon – I’m actually shopping a novel to agents now, but my first love is, and always will be short stories. I can tell so many more stories and meet countless characters, all in less time than it takes to write a novel. It’s a bit of an addiction, really. There’s no roller coaster like the short story roller coaster of writing, editing, submitting, getting rejected, submitting, getting published, and having all these exciting book/magazine releases interspersed through it all.

 

Selene – Your stuff has a very visceral quality to it. By that, I mean I was eating and had to stop! Stephen King famously said, “If I can’t terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I can’t horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out.” Let’s talk about the use of gore and other sensory descriptions (especially smell) in your work.

 

Shannon – I like to try to engage the senses in my stories (whether I accomplish it or not is another story) for exactly that visceral reaction. The title story, “Blue Sludge Blues,” started out as an experiment in how people would react to an assault on the senses. It was also my attempt to stop holding back. I got to read the story in front of a room full of people at an open mic before I’d completed it. Hearing and seeing their reactions was amazing.

 

I feel like engaging the senses further engages the reader. Or I hope so, anyway. The sense of smell is often tied together with memory, and it can influence the way someone responds when they’re reading, especially if it’s a familiar smell.

 

Horror is about making people uncomfortable, often to make them think about things in a way they might not have before. Hitting them in the senses, the things that control their mental responses to a point, is a way of doing this. But I like to use the senses in positive ways sometimes, too. Sprinkling in positive sensory experiences can make it all the more extreme when things go wrong.

 

Selene – Further to the “gore” question, there are different types of horror, from splatter up to stories that are more psychological, with little violence at all. How would you classify your work, and how do you create the “creepy” factor in a story? Particularly given a short story has much less room to build suspense than a longer novella or novel.

 

Shannon – My earlier stories, which are the ones in “Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations,” leaned toward the more visceral, though there are also psychological horror stories in there (“Salvation Lottery,” for one.) Recently, I’ve been writing more psychological, quieter horror. At first, it wasn’t intentional; that’s just what started coming out when I’d sit to type. I’m now purposely pursuing that as a learning experience. I consider most of my horror to be what I term blue collar horror. It’s meant to get to the point and, hopefully, to entertain and satisfy the need for a monster, whether furry, tentacled, or human. Nothing flashy. After all, the first horror authors I read were King and Koontz, and I’d very much consider them blue collar horror (though I also think both are beautiful writers, and revisiting their older works lately, I’m really seeing that where I’d forgotten it existed).

 

On creating the creepy factor, I try to think of something that gets a reaction from me, to begin with. If I can’t at least emotionally understand why something would be scary, I don’t want to write about it. It’s why I haven’t done a clown story yet. If and when I do, it will mean I can finally empathize with why a clown is scary. Right now, the fact that they scare other people makes me love them, but I don’t think I could scare someone with a story about them without that intellectual understanding of why they would be scary.

 

The beauty of a short story is you have fewer characters to work with, and less expectation of story cushioning via sub-plots. I can get to the creepiness of a situation faster because I have to set the scene faster and simpler. There’s not a chapter to introduce the main character and their current situation: there are a couple paragraphs.

 

Selene – I’ve noticed that several of your characters are unnamed, or only identified by a first name. Why is this, and is it intentional? How do you approach character creation?

 

Shannon – I’m not sure it’s ever been fully intentional, but I find it can be disruptive to getting into the character’s head as a reader if there’s too much to identify them and set them too far apart from me. As a reader, I need to be able to empathize with them, but if I can identify with them, find some common ground, that’s going to draw me in even more. I want the character to matter and be someone the reader can feel for, and I want them to have a story of their own, but I also want the reader to be able to put themselves in their place, to feel afraid for them.

 

For character creation, I usually jump in with the beginning of the character in my head (I’m a pantser), and then I figure out what their story is outside of what they’re about to face. Is this terrible thing happening to them something that has encroached on their current, normal life, or is it because they changed something, went somewhere new?

 

Selene – “Where do you get your ideas?” is a common question. But at the back of Blue Sludge Blues, you include a “Story Notes” section that explains some of your processes. Have you had much feedback, and how are the story explanations received?

 

Shannon –Surprisingly, I have heard privately from a few people who liked that I put the story notes at the end, and I think one of my reviews even mentioned it, so I definitely plan to do that again in the future. I’ve heard most about the notes on “What the Fire Left Behind,” because that was one of my most personal stories in the collection. I wrote it to exorcise the anxieties left behind when I fled the Waldo Canyon Fire with my family. It was a terrifying experience that still haunts everyone who experienced it firsthand, and I needed to write it out.

 

The whole reason I did story notes in the first place is that I enjoy it when other authors do it. Often, in anthologies, the story notes are right there at the beginning of a story, and there’s something slightly more intimate about knowing what influenced or inspired the story, and what the author was thinking when they wrote it. It often gives more insight into the story itself and can change the meaning of it when re-read.

 

Selene – The Story Notes on “The Salvation Lottery” mention you wrote the story based on an idea for an anthology whose deadline passed. I’m terrible with deadlines, and I do this all the time! (Write stories on a theme, but don’t submit because the call is closed). How do you deal with deadlines and the realities of writing on a time limit?

 

Shannon – I’m actually someone who works best with a deadline (and not a self-imposed one, either). I thrive most when I’m most limited. I was one of those people who could write insane, A+ papers the night before they were due because the pressure made me work harder than I would have had I done it in advance. So far, I haven’t had many strict timelines or deadlines for writing, but I’ll say that the earlier in the process I see a story call with a deadline, the less likely I’ll write it or that I’ll like what I end up writing. So if I see a call now that’s due six months from now, even if it inspires an idea, it’s probably not going to happen. If I see a call tonight for something due two days from now, I’ll write that story and end up loving it. There’s something about the pressure. Those ones are more likely to make it into the final product than the ones I had months to work on, too.

 

Selene – Let’s talk about story setting. Your blog mentions you live in Colorado, although the stories I’ve read of yours didn’t mention specific locations. One of the peculiar constraints I’ve found of the short story form is that there isn’t a lot of room to describe place settings or surroundings. How do you let the readers know where the story is set, or is it better to have an “every town” fictional setting?

 

Shannon – There are some stories where I think the “every town” setting is best, because in horror the more you can make the reader feel like this could actually happen to them, the better. I’m a fan of normal settings versus, say, a cemetery, because someone’s more likely to be walking down a suburban street than frolicking in a cemetery. Therefore, it will feel more real with a more mundane setting. I do try to set a scene as far as the type of surroundings the character happens to have around them. Are we in the woods? If so, there will be trees, piney scents, birds chirping, leaves crunching underfoot, wind soughing through the leaves, etc. Are we in suburbia? There will be pavement and manicured lawns, the scent of grass clippings and grilled meat, other people’s voices drifting out of their windows. All of that can be set fairly quickly, and if it’s a familiar type of place, little work has to go into it to make the reader fill in the rest of the blanks.

 

Selene – If I have this right, Blue Sludge Blues contains some previously published stories and some newer ones. Did you self-publish, and why did you go with self-publishing, instead of approaching a “traditional” or other publisher?

 

Shannon – It contains mostly previously published stories, but I put in, I think, four new stories for those who’ve purchased the other publications I’ve been in. I wanted them to have something new to make it worthwhile. Some of the stories had been in magazines that have gone out of print, so the stories can no longer be found any other way, and I didn’t want them to disappear. Plus, there’s something special in having a book with just your name on the front. I was tired of going to signing events and having people look at the book that caught their eye first then call me by the editor’s name, and then having to explain the situation.

 

I did self-publish for a couple reasons. One, I wanted to learn how to do it, to experience that process. Two, I wasn’t sure if there was a point to going through a traditional publisher with a bunch of stories that had already been published by someone else. Would they be interested? I can’t see why. And why let someone else once again profit off my stories, when that had already happened, minus whatever payment I got, with them the first time around? I’d like to embrace the hybrid style of publishing, where I go traditional for some pieces and self-published on others, and I’m really curious to see which ends up being the most rewarding. I’m too early in the game to say yet.

 

Selene – A general “writer” question here. Since all writers are readers, what do you like to read?

 

Shannon – I read pretty much everything, but the genres I read the absolute most are horror, urban fantasy, mystery, and thriller. I’m actually doing a study project with a couple friends where we’re working through a list of 100 Best Horror Novels put out by Nightmare Magazine a couple years ago. I’ve discovered authors I had no idea existed, and I feel it’s greatly expanding the type of horror I write and my understanding of horror, the definition of which has broadened since I started this project. I’ve stopped saying, “That’s not horror!” quite as much as I used to.

 

Selene – You’re involved with a couple of local writing groups (Mountain of Authors, The Rocky Mountain Writing Group). Tell us about these groups and the workshops they offer.

 

Shannon – The groups I’ve mostly been involved with are Pikes Peak Writers and Pikes Peak Pen Women (a local branch of the National League of American Pen Women). I was a volunteer for Pikes Peak Writers for many years, and even served on their board of directors, but quit last year so I could focus on writing. They hold an annual conference in April, which was once called the friendliest writer’s conference by Writer’s Digest, and they do a variety of monthly programs, like an open mic, open critique, a writer’s night for discussions about writing with any topic requested, Write Drunk Edit Sober, and Write Brains with a guest speaker, all of these monthly and free. It’s not just a writer’s group, but also a supportive writing community.

 

Pikes Peak Pen Women is focused on those who are already published. They do a monthly luncheon with a guest speaker, and a lot of community outreach, such as a program doing poetry in the schools, where they introduce kids at poorer elementary schools to writing poetry and even getting it made into books at the end of the program. They also buy books to be distributed at these same schools. The interesting thing about this group is that, despite its name, it’s multi-focused on women in the arts. Membership consists of writers, musical composers, and artists/photographers. There are a lot of inter-arts programs to mix the various art forms together. This is an older organization, created when women weren’t allowed in various press clubs and men’s writing and arts groups, and it has a rich history. They have branches in different states, so anyone wanting to join could look up whether there’s a branch near them.

 

I’m part of an online blogging group called Insecure Writer’s Support Group, open to any bloggers. They do a monthly blog hop where writers talk about their insecurities and offer each other support, and they now do an annual anthology members can submit to. I mention this group since it’s not limited to Colorado Springs, and it’s easy to get involved, no matter where someone is, so if you don’t have a local writer’s group, check out the IWSG.

 

I’m fairly new to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, though there’s a lot of overlap between that and Pikes Peak Writers, but they also hold an annual conference and have monthly free and paid programming, and they’re a great group, too!

 

Mountain of Authors is an annual event put on by Pikes Peak Library District. PPLD does a lot to work with the local writing community, and even provides space for Pikes Peak Writers to hold some of their events.

 

The short version (too late) is that I live in an area with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to having a thriving writing community. I know not everyone is this lucky. There’s a lot to choose from here (and I’ve just scratched the surface—there are other organizations!) It’s a fantastic place to be a writer.

 

Selene – Your blog mentions some pretty scary experiences, including almost being kidnapped, being in the car when a serial killer came after your mom (!) and being chased by a shark. Now I really want to know the story behind these details. Do you think these scary experiences have shaped any part of your writing interests?

 

Shannon – I’m sure they have! I’ve lived a pretty interesting life, with lots of crazy experiences, and pieces of those experiences sometimes end up in my fiction. There are several stories in my collection that were inspired by real-life events, even if it was just a small piece of the real occurrence. I moved more than some (and less than, say, military families), so I got some incredibly diverse life experiences that people who’ve lived in one area might not have. It’s given me a different way of looking at things.

 

Selene – The profile also mentions you’re a fan of unsolved mysteries. I enjoy watching conspiracy videos on YouTube, but my favourite mysteries are the ones collectively solved many years later. What’s your favourite mystery, and in a story, do you think it’s better to “tie up loose ends,” or to let the threads hang?

 

Shannon – I do love unsolved mysteries! My grandmother (not the one who took me to horror movies had a bunch of books chock-full of things like the Bermuda Triangle and the lost city of Atlantis, stories we all grew up with. She also had a subscription to Fate Magazine. I especially love a good creepy mystery, like what happened at Dyatlov Pass? What happened to the Three Flannan Isles lighthouse keepers? There’s a blog challenge that happens every April called the A-to-Z Challenge, and sometimes people pick themes. In 2013, I chose Unsolved Mysteries as my theme and did posts on mysteries like those above, plus Natalie Wood’s death, Edgar Allan Poe’s final days, the Mary Celeste, etc. There was one for each letter of the alphabet, and it was a ton of fun reading up on those.

 

Sometimes I like to leave threads hanging in stories, and sometimes it seems most appropriate to tie it up in a neat bow, though if I can do that and still leave some doubt, that’s the best.

 

Selene – Another “general writer question.” What advice would you give a writer who is just starting out?

 

Shannon – My advice would be to read a lot and write a lot, but it would also be to SUBMIT. The number of people I know who have been writing as long and longer than I have, and who have not sent in anything for submission in all these years is staggering. Put yourself out there! Harden yourself to rejection, because it’s absolutely not personal. You can’t succeed without putting yourself out there, even though it means risking failures (yes, plural). Also, never stop learning. Even Stephen King has things he can learn, and he’s been in this game for decades. Like any other job, you should always be learning how to do it better.

 

If you can, find a local writing community. If you don’t have one, consider creating one. Your local library might help you out. Oooo, and another one: don’t pass up opportunities just because you’re scared. The yeses I’ve given have led to so many wonderful things, like writer’s groups, conferences, speaking gigs, signing gigs, podcast interviews, and invitations to anthologies. Try to push yourself to read new things and to write the things you aren’t most comfortable with. And if you start to lose your passion, rediscover it before moving on.

 

Selene – What’s next for you, and do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today.

 

Shannon – Thank you for the great questions! Currently, I’m working on a horror comedy novella about killer squirrels, and I’m still actively writing and submitting short stories. I’m looking at putting together a craft book on short stories, and I hope to put out a collection of short stories either annually or bi-annually as long as I have the rights back on enough stories. Also, I’ll be a guest on the Horroraddicts.net podcast July 21, and a panellist at Denver Comic Con in June, and I’d love to meet anyone attending.

 

 

 

If you would like to find out more about Shannon and her work, you can follow her via the below links:

 

Website: thewarriormuse.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewarriormuse/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewarriormuse

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

 

 

 

Taking Submissions: The Children of Clark Ashton Smith

Deadline: January 31st, 2019
Payment: One penny Sterling per word
Note: Reprints allowed.

Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is my favourite fantasy author. I’ve had the pleasure of publishing several stories in the vein of CAS’s works. I’m very  interested in publishing an anthology of stories, poems and prose poems in CAS’s vein. Whether the stories are based in Averoigne, Hyperboria, Poseidonis, Zothique or anywhere else, as long as it fits CAS’s mode of storytelling, I’ll be more than interested. If your story, etc. has been published elsewhere, please let me know where and when the work was published.

I will pay one penny Sterling per word, with a minimum payment of £10 Sterling for poems and very, very short stories and prose poems. For illustrations, I will pay £30 for ‘header’ illustrations to a story, £100 for full page illustrations and £200 for the cover illustration. All rights are reserved by the author or artist.

I would like to have all the material in by January 31st, 2019 so I can publish the anthology by June 2019.

Contact me by email ([email protected] or [email protected]) or by post to Jon Harvey, 56 Mickle Hill, Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 8QU, UK.

Via: Atlantean Publishing.

Ongoing Submissions: Asimov’s Science Fiction

Payment: 8-10 cents per word for short stories up to 7,500 words, and 8 cents for each word over 7,500.

Payment & Rights

Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine is an established market for science fiction stories. Asimov’s pays 8-10 cents per word for short stories up to 7,500 words, and 8 cents for each word over 7,500. We seldom buy stories shorter than 1,000 words or longer than 20,000 words, and we don’t serialize novels. We pay $1 a line for poetry, which should not exceed 40 lines. We buy First English Language serial rights plus certain non-exclusive rights explained in our contract. We do not publish reprints, and we do not accept “simultaneous submissions” (stories sent at the same time to a publication other than Asimov’s). Asimov’s will consider material submitted by any writer, previously published or not. We’ve bought some of our best stories from people who have never sold a story before.

Story Content

In general, we’re looking for “character oriented” stories, those in which the characters, rather than the science, provide the main focus for the reader’s interest. Serious, thoughtful, yet accessible fiction will constitute the majority of our purchases, but there’s always room for the humorous as well. SF dominates the fiction published in the magazine, but we also publish borderline fantasy, slipstream, and surreal fiction. No sword & Sorcery, please. Neither are we interested in explicit sex or violence. A good overview would be to consider that all fiction is written to examine or illuminate some aspect of human existence, but that in science fiction the backdrop you work against is the size of the Universe.

Electronic Submission and Manuscript Format

Asimov’s now uses an Online Submissions System that has been designed to streamline our process and improve communication with authors. We do not accept email submissions. Please see Manual Submission Guidelines for information about paper submissions.

Our online submissions form for fiction asks for your name, email address, cover letter, story title, and story. Cover letter is optional. If you choose to include it, it should contain the length of your story and your publishing history. Story word count can, and should, also be indicated in the upper right corner of the first page of the manuscript. We ask for the same information for poetry. Please fill out a separate form for each poem submitted for consideration. All stories and poems should be in standard manuscript format and can be submitted in .RTF or .DOC format. For information about standard formatting, see William Shunn’s guide to Proper Manuscript Format. After you have submitted your work, a tracking number will be displayed and an automated email confirmation containing this information will be sent to you. If you have not received this email within twenty-four hours, please notify us by email. Your tracking number will allow you to monitor the status of your submission through our website, so please don’t lose it.

NOTE: Yahoo.com occasionally treats our email as spam, please keep an eye on your spam folder.

Reply Process

Our average response time runs about five weeks. If you have not heard from us in three months, you can query us about the submission at [email protected]. Thanks for your interest in Asimov’s and good luck!

Manual Submission and Manuscript Format

Manuscripts submitted to Asimov’s must be neatly typed, double-spaced on one side of the sheet only, on bond paper (no erasable paper, please). Any manuscript longer than 5 pages should be mailed to us flat. Dot matrix printouts are acceptable only if they are easily readable. Please do NOT send us submissions on disk. When using a word processor, please do not justify the right margin. If sending a printout, separate the sheets first. The manuscript should include the title, your name and address, and the number of words in your story. Enclose a cover letter if you like. All manuscripts must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope (if manuscript is over 5 pages, use a 9” x 12” envelope) carrying enough postage to return the manuscript If you wish to save on postage, you may submit a clear copy of your story along with a standard (#10) envelope, also self-addressed and stamped. Mark your manuscript “DISPOSABLE,” and you will receive our reply only. We do not suggest that you have us dispose of your original typescript. If you live overseas or in Canada, use International Reply Coupons for postage, along with a self-addressed envelope.

Via: Asimov’s Science Fiction.

Ongoing Submissions: Little Blue Marble

Payment: $0.05 a word for original works up to 2000 words. We offer $0.01 a word for reprints. (CA Rates)

Please note that while we do pay for original content (see rates below), Little Blue Marble’s current operating budget supports only one or two paid pieces per month. As we grow, we will be happy to increase that number and our pay rates. If all our paid slots are filled, but you would still like to support our mission, we do appreciate and accept content donated under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license. Donated content must still undergo editorial approval.

We welcome submissions from writers anywhere. We value inclusivity, no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability. No stone should remain unturned when discussing climate solutions, and we want our content to reflect that.

FICTION

What we’re looking for: We publish speculative fiction that examines humanity’s possible futures living with anthropogenic climate change. We prefer fiction with a hopeful outlook, but the occasional dystopia might fit too. While science is an important piece for solving the climate change puzzle, we challenge writers to also examine our existing social, cultural, political, and economic frameworks and envision new ones to help see us through to a better, more sustainable world.

Please see this interview at Six Questions For … if you’d like more details.

Word count limits:

• Original fiction: 2000 words
• Reprints: 5000 words

NON-FICTION

What we’re looking for: Articles and essays on climate change, and profiles of people on the front lines of climate work in the 1000-2000 word range. If possible, please include links to your published work elsewhere or other writing samples.

Before sending us any non-fiction, please send us fully outlined pitches on specific topics.

Please do not send us Q&A-style interviews, video blogging, Kickstarter projects, promotional/marketing materials, or reviews.

Upon publication, contributors receive a byline, a short bio at the end of each published post, and are listed as a Little Blue Marble contributor.

HOW TO SUBMIT

All submissions should be sent to submissions (at) littlebluemarble (dot) ca.

If submitting fiction, please put FICTION SUBMISSION – STORY TITLE in the subject line.

If submitting a non-fiction proposal, please put NON-FICTION SUBMISSION – ARTICLE TITLE in the subject line.

If you are submitting content you are willing to donate under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license, please indicate so somewhere in your submission e-mail.

Submission format: All submissions should be in standard manuscript format, double spaced with a legible font. Submissions should be in .RTF or .DOCX format.

Little Blue Marble accepts works that have been previously published elsewhere. Please state in your submission if this work is a reprint.

We do not accept multiple submissions. You may only submit one story at a time. You may submit another once we have responded to your first submission.

Little Blue Marble accepts simultaneous submissions with other venues. If your story, however, is accepted by a different venue, as a courtesy to us please immediately withdraw your submission from Little Blue Marble.

WHAT WE PAY

All payment is in Canadian dollars.

We offer $0.05 a word for original works up to 2000 words. We offer $0.01 a word for reprints.

Payment will be made by Paypal, or alternatively, for Canadians only, via e-mail money transfer.

Via: Little Blue Marble.

Taking Submissions: Sanitarium Magazine

Deadline: July 15th, 2018
Payment: $5

At Sanitarium, we’re dedicated to bringing audiences the best in horror from around the world. We believe horror should be fresh, bold, and diverse. We aim to publish seasoned professionals alongside new voices, and we encourage authors to take creative risks with their work. Sanitarium is an inclusionary publishing space, and for this reason we ask that all authors submitting work adhere to our guidelines in order to facilitate our blind submission system.

Due to the high volume of work we receive, submissions that don’t follow the respective guidelines will be rejected. Additionally, work that is sent outside the posted deadline, or set reading windows, will not be considered for publication.


SANITARIUM MAGAZINE

Sanitarium Magazine is now open for submissions!

Offered in both print and digital editions, Sanitarium Magazine is a quarterly publication—released every September, December, March, and June—dedicated to bringing readers the best in short-form horror.

We’re looking for work that chills readers to the bone, makes us think the impossible is all too possible, and leaves a lasting impression. We want characters we can relate to, care about, see ourselves in, and obsess over. Authors are encouraged to submit works which fall under any form of horror and supernatural fiction (including but not limited to body horror, psychological horror, stories of the paranormal, dystopian works, and “creature features”).

Body horror, psychological horror, and pieces dealing with the supernatural or paranormal are all encouraged.

While we encourage writers to take risks and push the limits of literary horror, we ask that creators be mindful while doing so. Work that’s homophobic, transphobic, racist, ableist, or discriminatory will not be considered for publication. Additionally, works depicting and/or glorifying child abuse, animal cruelty, explicit sex acts, sexual assault and rape, or excessive violence towards women will be rejected for publication.

Sanitarium Magazine accepts submissions for:
– short stories;
– serial fiction;
– dark verse poetry.

Sanitarium Magazine does not accept submissions for:
– novel or novella excerpts;
– fanfiction;
– creative nonfiction;
– nonfiction essays/articles/interviews/think pieces;
– screenplays/stage plays/audio dramas/podcast episodes.

Sanitarium Magazine will only consider works submitted during the following reading windows:
– February 15th (as of 12:00 a.m. EST) to April 15th (until 11:59 p.m. EST)
– May 15th (as of 12:00 a.m. EST) to July 15th (until 11:59 p.m. EST)
– August 15th (as of 12:00 a.m. EST) to October 15th (until 11:59 p.m. EST)
– November 15th (as of 12:00 a.m. EST) to January 15th (until 11:59 p.m. EST)

Authors whose work appears in Sanitarium Magazine will receive a $5.00 USD honorarium, as well as a digital copy of the issue their work was featured in.

Works published in Sanitarium Magazine will automatically be considered for our annual best in horror anthology.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR SANITARIUM MAGAZINE:

– All submissions should be sent as either a .doc or .docx file (other file types will not be opened).
– The file name for attachments should be saved with the title of the work, and type of submissions, as their name (TitleOfWork_TypeOfSubmission)
– Ex. StoryTitle_ShortStory
– Ex. ThreePoems_Poetry
– Submissions should be sent in standard manuscript format and should clearly indicate both the title and word count of the piece. We ask that your name, email, and other personal details do not appear on the attached work you are submitting (i.e. do not have your name in the header/footer, byline, title page, name of the attachment, etc.) as we use a blind submission system to ensure fairness when selecting works.
– For short story submissions, we accept stories ranging from 500 to 10,000 words (although stories between 1,500 to 7,000 words are generally preferred). 
– For serial fiction submissions, we accept serials ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 words in length, and which have a maximum of four instalments to them. 
– For poetry submissions, we accept submissions of up to five poems at a time and ask that poets submit all of their poems as one attachment.
– We accept simultaneous submissions; however, we ask that authors notify us if their work has been accepted for publication elsewhere.
– We do not accept multiple submissions. Please wait to hear back from us before sending in more work.
– We do not accept previously published material. We consider work that has appeared on personal websites, patreon accounts, and social media as having been previously published. However, work which has been performed as a podcast, but has not previously appeared in print, will be considered for publication.
– All submissions should be sent to [email protected] with the subject line SUBMISSION: Type Of Work, Name Of Work.
– Ex. SUBMISSION: Short Story, Name Of Story
– Ex. SUBMISSION: Poetry, Five Poems
– Ex. SUBMISSION: Serial Fiction, Name Of Story 

While we try to respond to each submission as quickly as possible, we ask that authors please wait at least four weeks before querying us on the status of your work.

Via: Sanitarium Magazine.

Taking Submissions: Beyond Steampunk: Fake News

Deadline: August 1st, 2018
Payment: $50

Old Sins, a (very) small publishing cooperative, is soliciting for the following mixed-genre anthology.

We are following up the Beyond Steampunk anthology with its sequel, Beyond Steampunk: Fake News. Real conspiracies are everywhere in history, from failures like the Gunpowder Plot to the successful Gulf of Tonkin incident to the variously successful Russian attempts to infiltrate multiple governments. Let’s not write about those. Let’s write about conspiracies that have been debunked thoroughly but do so through the lens of Alternate History, where they have actually happened. Let’s write about the second shooter, chemtrails, the Illuminati, Lizard People, Greys, the Loch Ness monster, Pope Joan, Templars worshipping Satan, and so many other rumored conspiracies throughout history as if they were real.
In keeping with theme of Beyond Steampunk, no stories will be accepted if they are set in the British Isles during the Victorian era or are steampunk. Nor will we be accepting stories set during World War II as those have been done to death.

Technical issues: We will be paying a flat rate of $50. We are looking for works between 1000 and 6000 words. The due date is August 1st. The earlier, the more time we have to consider it and offer suggestions. We will be publishing roughly a dozen works, depending on the total length of all of them. If this is successful, or we get enough good submissions, we will be creating another volume of this anthology. All works must be PG-13 or less. Authors will retain all copyright to their works and will be able to resell or reuse them. We only retain distribution rights for said works for the duration of the publication of this volume.

Contact us at [email protected] or via our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/oldsins/

Trembling With Fear 05/20/2018

Writer? How much do you earn? So little? Nothing? Ah, just a hobby then. Writing dismissed, placed on a par with knitting or baking a cake or lifting weights … but you can’t keep someone warm with words, can’t quiet hunger or build strength. Writing’s not important. We hear it all the time, the putdowns of the naysayers. Yet we know they are wrong. The stories of religious works have directed mankind for centuries, for good or bad. Fables have described morality. Speeches have roused and steered armies, both the physical and the ideological. Fiction has allowed us to explore themes and enter other worlds in a safe environment.

Our words on modern platforms also allow us to share our thoughts and lives with those on the other side of the world, forming new friendships, sometimes to share not just in the good but also the challenges of life. Lat week, Arthur Unk, one of our well-known contributors, whilst grieving an approaching loss, paid a beautiful tribute to his own ‘real-life Superman’ (https://arthurunk.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-life-well-lived/). Not important? Here Arthur uses words to show what it is to be human, they warm the heart, feed the soul, give strength. It is an example of how writing binds us closer together as readers recognise shared experiences, feel less alone. Whether via fact or fiction, without words, without language, we are nothing and as writers we bear that torch. Remind yourselves of that when the old self-doubt creeps in. Writers drive civilisations and horror has its place, holding up a mirror to what was, what could be … and sometimes what already is.  We write the warnings and release the monsters from their chains, shine a light on the dark and hope somebody notices. We are the Book of Revelation. Monsters do not always remain on the page …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Bed And Breakfast

The sycamore tree in the back yard was the main reason Marilee and Garth loved the house. The hollow trunk in the sycamore tree was twenty feet across.

“It’s a true colonial built in 1785 and has the original Franklin stove. The windows and insulation were updated about twenty years ago,” said the realtor.

Marilee said, “Tell us about the tree. Why’s the opening in the trunk filled with bricks? Is it haunted, we want a place that’s haunted?”

“There are pictures taken after the civil war when the tree was barely fifteen feet across. The hollow trunk was open back then. The opening was bricked over during the great depression. My grandmother said hobos liked to sleep inside the tree.”

“Like a one-tree hobo jungle?”

“More like a tramp’s graveyard. They found a new body inside almost every week. Some wanderer would squirrel himself inside at sunset and turn up dead in the morning. The final bough broke when the owner’s daughter disappeared. The police left no twig unpruned, but they never found the girl. Her parents insisted the tree had killed her, but the police believed she’d run away with some young sprout from the city. The police chief said, “Don’t be a couple of saps. Surely, you don’t think the pollen ate her.”

“The owners walled the tree closed. The house and tree stayed in the family for years. It’s been empty since the Second World War. Everyone in town thinks it’s haunted.”

Garth tapped on the brick and said, “I saw a sycamore this big in Pennsylvania. These trees live five or six hundred years and they hollow out after they turn three hundred. The inside of this one has to be huge and it will make the best bed and breakfast in the world. I like this place and it’s high time we put down roots somewhere. Let’s buy it.”

The realtor smirked. “At the price, this deal is low-hanging fruit.”

Marilee nestled up to the tree and said, ‘I never thought of myself as a tree-hugger, but I agree. This tree likes me.”

Garth and Marilee remodeled the dormant sycamore that winter. They removed the bricks and used them to build a patio and fire pit. They ran power, installed windows, modern plumbing, and a round door. Frodo would have been proud. They loved the trunk’s interior rustic feel and they left the soft rough wood untouched. The odor of the cleaning fluid lingered inside the tree, and they named their treehouse, “Pith and Vinegar”.

Garth accosted the electrician when he fell asleep inside the tree. The electrician said, with a quivering timber in his voice, “No charge, I quit. The tree makes me dizzy. It saps my energy.”

The framing crew said working inside the tree made them groggy and walked off the job. Garth didn’t mind, they were too slow, and they just lumbered around or spent half the day sawing logs. The foreman said, “I’m stumped as to the reason, but my men and I are afraid of the tree. You and your wife are nuts if you don’t chop it down.”

Garth finished the hard work and Marilee painted the framed opening and decorated the inside with furniture, carpets, and tapestries. They installed a television and reading lamps.

“Garth, I’m tired. I guess I’m getting old, I’m exhausted after I work in the treehouse.”

“Me, too. I’m glad we’re finished. You did an amazing job, it’s a real fairy house. After dinner, let’s chill a couple bottles of wine and spend the night in the tree.”

“Let’s build a fire and snuggle on the patio before we go to bed,” asked Marilee with a sparkle in her eyes?”

“Tremendous idea.”

After dinner, they walked arm in arm to the hollow tree and sat together on the couch. They fell asleep in minutes.

Two days later the realtor found them, and their desiccated bodies were covered with tendrils sprouted from the interior walls. The couple were encased in a web of fine rootlets. The tendrils twitched toward the realtor. They crawled mindlessly across the wooden floor and probed blindly through the air. The roots entwined around her and touched her face.

She welcomed their sylvan caress. She smiled at the dead couple and said, “Looks like you’ve gotten yourselves into a vine mess. Nothing for me to pine about.”

She let down her hair and her auburn tresses were filled with foliage. Her hair had a greenish tinge in the morning sunlight. The backs of her hands were covered with scales that matched the tree’s bark. The tree welcomed the return of its dryad. She’d been barricaded outside since the Great Depression. Dryads won’t touch brick or masonry. They only work with living things.

“I’m back, darling,” she said. “And I swear with God as my witness, we won’t ever be hungry again.”

The dryad filed paperwork and deeded the property to herself. She opened a quaint bed and breakfast, just like Garth and Marilee had planned. She did a blooming business, but refused to open a second branch. Most guests were charmed by the hobbit-like treehouse, stayed a few days, and wrote glowing reviews.

Some guests checked in, but never checked out. Breakfast was always served, but the tree decided what or who was on the menu. Things never worked out well for visitors who barked at the owner. Even the prettiest rose needs a little protein now and then.

 

Robert Allen Lupton

 

Robert Allen Lupton is retired and lives in New Mexico where he is a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Robert runs and writes every day, but not necessarily in that order. He has been published in several anthologies and his short stories are online at www.horrortree.com and  www.crimsonstreets.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April, His collection of running themed horror, science fiction, and adventures stories, Running Into Trouble, was published in October, Dragonborn, the Foxborn sequel will be released in April, 2018

Links:

www.amazon.com/author/luptonra

www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292457.Robert_Allen_Lupton

https://www.hometownreads.com/books/foxborn

The Astral Queen

The Astral Queen landed on the planet’s surface.

The pilot descended. Wind whipped her face and her green skin was blasted by sand.

She surveyed the land. Black clouds blotted out sky and sun. Mangled metal towers sprouted from dunes of ash and sand.

She turned and reboarded her ship. Inside she paused before a glass chamber. She pressed a hand on the glass and peered in at her ancestors frozen in cryogenic tubes. Not today, she thought.

When she reached the bridge she crossed the planet off her list and adjusted the database so it reflected Earth as “Inhospitable.”

Eric S Fomley

Eric S. Fomley writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction. He has several publications which can be found on his website ericfomley.com. He can also be found on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.

Know Hell

Childhood shapes us all. He was no exception.
A Yuletide Day. Twenty years ago. Cowering in fear as his psychotic father bludgeoned his mother. His old man’s incarceration and hours of therapy failed to heal. The festive season remained a nightmare, unmarked and uncelebrated.
A thud from below awoke him. Gingerly he tip-toed downstairs, butterflies in his belly. Opening the door, his senses were flooded. The heady aroma of pine; the technicolour glare of strobing bulbs, reflected off tatty tinsel. The shabby Saint Nick, red suit stained a deeper scarlet, grinning through a filthy beard.
“Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!”

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short listed in several contests and his story “UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD” was selected as the winning entry in the WRITING MAGAZINE 2016 annual short story competition. One of his monologues was chosen to be performed at Northampton’s Royal Theatre, while his adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” was produced at Northampton’s Derngate Theatre in 2017.

 

You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

Road Shadow

I drive down darkened side-streets.

He follows.

I turn left.

He turns.

I pull right. Speed onto the interstate. Swerve between lanes.

He skids, jerks, mimics every move. Rides my bumper.

I skid to the shoulder.

Our tires squeal to a halt.

I exit. Bang his window. “Why are you following?”

His waxen face shines. My own maniac smile spreads beneath eyes, raw as butcher’s meat. He’s me. And he’ll always follow.

Ghostly bourbon fumes swim in streetlamp vertigo.

I stumble to my car.

Fumble for keys.

Peel away.

Headlights blur the mirrors.

Someone’s following.

And I’ve already forgotten who.

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.

 

LINKS:

 

Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Folliard/e/B0097S7T0A/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Christmas Terror Tales on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasTerrorTales/

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

 

The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with Nina Johnson

Alyson – Hi Nina and welcome to the Horror Tree.

Can you tell us something about yourself? Your beginnings? And how long you’ve been writing?

 

Nina – As a child, I had vivid nightmares – the kind where I’d fall out of bed terrified. I also had an active imagination, so I’d see things. This combination filled my head with eerie stories I sometimes wished were true.

I was the oldest child in my family, but I had a dream where a young woman visited me at night and told me she was my big sister. She would sneak me from the house and we would fly through the night on vigilante adventures. As a Catholic second-grader, I’d share this story on the playground to such an attentive group of friends that I’d add chapters on the spot. Eventually, the nuns took me aside to verify if these stories were true. “The other children are afraid these are real. Maybe you should just write your stories down.” It was a thrill to keep their attention, to seize their imaginations, and to give them a little scare, so I began to write.

 

Alyson – Growing up which books made an impact on you? Who were your favourite authors?

 

Nina – My first chapter book was a Nancy Drew mystery. I devoured those and the Hardy Boys series. My English Nana sent me a book of fairy tales – not the Disneyfied versions – the original, nitty-gritty, little mermaid getting her tongue cut out tales. I loved them! And while I loved ghosts, I also adored the Christopher Robin poetry of A.A. Milne and stories about fairies and the Borrowers and the little people who created magic around us. I was also obsessed with illustrated encyclopedias. I memorized all the ordinary and exotic animals and plants I could the way other kids memorize train or baseball facts.

 

 

Alyson – Have you always been interested in history and legend?

 

Nina – I remember being fascinated by early American history because the stories were about people who left England to come to America. Like my mother, I imagined. She left her mother, her brothers and sisters to come to the USA and this both amazed and terrified me. My fascination was cemented by 4th grade when Indiana schools require a year of intensive Indiana history lessons. This included not only reading history, but creating drums, dioramas of battles, and even cooking old recipes. This made history very real to me.

 

Alyson – How much does living in Indiana, USA influence your work? The physical geography of the area for instance?

 

Nina – I grew up roaming the woods around our house, creating make-believe lands, climbing trees, and adventuring to creeks to watch tadpoles. While I enjoyed this freedom, there were dangers. A fire raged through those woods and threatened our home twice. One beautiful day, I happened upon a dead wild turkey. A local boy had shot it, stripped all the feathers, and left it sprawled on a fallen tree. It was gruesome and a waste. I’ll never forget it. The Indiana landscape, the contrast of natural beauty and danger, always sneaks its way into my work.

 

Alyson – I was intrigued to read on your blog about your volunteer work at Indiana Cemetery Works, on headstone restoration, could you tell us more about this?

 

Nina – Indiana Cemetery Works is dedicated to keeping historic figures alive by maintaining their burial sites. I restore headstones by removing lichen, walnut stains, and general dirt and grime. We also reset stones that have heaved over and mend cracks. We’ve been fundraising for a special lift to assist with the larger stones and obelisks. It’s quite dangerous work, actually! For years, we’ve focused on the anti-Slavery Friends Cemetery. This is the final resting place of Quakers who were excommunicated for assisting in the Underground Railroad.

 

Alyson – Do you watch supernatural/horror films? Which are your favourites? And do they inspire any of your stories? (One of your recent Facebook posts references du Maurier’s Birds – which was filmed by Hitchcock)

 

Nina – My mother introduced me to Hitchcock and other horror films when I was very young. I remember watching black and white films, introduced by a host called Svengoolie. He’s a Chicago legend. My sister and I loved his camp humour and we’d create colouring books about the films. The Hand, The Brain, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Really junky horror, but we loved it. I still love horror films, but I watch less slash and gore and more supernatural, psychological suspense like Babadook, The Witch, I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House.

 

Alyson – Do you have a particular routine to your writing day? Or a special place you write in?

 

Nina – I’m lucky to have a wonderful home office. Truly, it’s the office of someone much more successful than myself. A lovely napping sofa, books everywhere. But if I need a fresh look at a story, I sometimes tote my notes to other locations. I’ve written in coffee shops, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Crown Hill Cemetery.

 

Alyson – How much research do you do for your (writing) projects?

 

Nina – It depends on the story. I use two monitors on my desk. If a story’s set in the past, I’ll research clothing, slang words, architecture, and even play music from that time on one monitor while I write on the other. It’s as close as I can get to time travel!

I also regularly visit sites of local legends or participate in ghost investigations. The locations fill my brain with scenes, vivid details, and the experience reminds me of those little things that can terrify the most reasonable mind.

 

Alyson – Your short story ‘Frigid’ won Mythraeum’s Pygmalion contest and has been filmed as a short film which I gather is now being edited; is this a first for you? When will the film be released? How involved in the filming were you?

 

Nina – Yes, this is my first story to be made into a film. I hope there will be many more! Mythraeum purchased the film rights and producer/writer Leslie Hedrick adapted it into a screenplay. A story takes a new shape as it shifts from page to film, so my goal was to be the easiest writer for a filmmaker to work with. I didn’t want to stunt the next steps in the creative process.

For the casting call, Leslie explained naming my main character would help the actor connect to the role. She’d chosen the name Henry. I was thrilled because, of all the names she could have chosen, this name holds special memories for me. This confirmed my story was in the best creative hands for this project!

I didn’t make it out to Colorado for the filming days, but I was kept in the loop with regular updates. At one point, filming was delayed because the lake wasn’t frozen enough. At another point, a main actor had to be replaced due to laryngitis.

The release date hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I am forwarding information to Mythraeum and Loste Films so it can be entered in the film competition for StokerCon 2019. It may be entered in other film festivals as early as late 2018. Here’s Loste Films’ award-winning horror short Turn Around from 2016:  https://youtu.be/js2932fcKOU

 

 

Alyson – Writing is a solitary business – how do you interact with other authors?

 

Nina – I belong to a local writer’s group where we simply encourage each other to keep writing. I attend some author conventions and, specifically, am attending StokerCon 2019. I enjoy supporting other authors by reading and reviewing their work – especially those who publish independent or through smaller presses.

 

Alyson – What projects are you currently working on?

 

Nina – My first dark science fiction story “Regolith” is coming out this summer in the Terra Nullius anthology. It’s one of three amazing science fiction anthologies being published by Kristell Ink this year.

I’m completing my first short story collection this year: Frigid and Other Cold-Hearted Stories. It features my original story with a bonus scene plus new as well as a few previously published stories about characters who commit cold-hearted behavior.

I’ll follow up with a collection focused on ghosts and the supernatural and I’ve started a narrative memoir filled with stories and photos from my ghost investigations.

 

Alyson – What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Nina – Read writers you love and try to figure out why you love their stories. Then, make time to write. Write absolute rubbish just to get your story down. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write, write, write. And don’t get discouraged if your idea isn’t “new”. No idea’s truly new. It’s all been done. It’s your point of view, your voice, your unique angle that matters, that makes it fresh. Go ahead. Write about vampires and zombies, just make them yours.

 

Alyson – Where can readers follow you online?

Nina – I love to read a range of books, not just horror, so I post about books a lot. The rest of the time it’s cats, coffee and tea! Feel free to follow me:

Web page:https://knjohnsonauthor.com/blog/

 

Facebook:https://m.facebook.com/knjohnsonauthor/

 

Twitter:https://twitter.com/kninaj27

 

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/KNJohnson

 

Instagram:http://www.instagram.com/knjohnsonauthor

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/K.N.-Johnson/e/B01KUNOBP6

 

 

 

Taking Submissions: Colors in Darkness: A Deadly Bargain

Deadline: July 15th, 2018
Payment: $20 and a contributor’s copy

Colors in Darkness Anthology: Deadly Bargain

Open Submissions: April 15 – July 15, 2018

Theme:

Our second horror/dark fantasy anthology will be based upon items purchased from a shady dealer. You may have seen him outside your office in the business district with a table stand or in your neighborhood selling items from inside his van. Perhaps he was just walking by and selling items retrieved from inside his coat. Jewelry, electronics, clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies and even food—The man always has a bargain for his customers…a deadly bargain, as the salesman is not what he seems!

Description of the Dealer: The dealer’s name can vary depending on which nationalities or environments he encounters; however, his appearance needs to be the same throughout the book. The dealer is about approximately five-foot eight, has olive skin and dreadlocks. He always looks overdressed, wearing several layers of mismatched clothing. He is handsome in an exotic way yet no one can place his nationality. He has almond shaped eyes that could appear Asian, but a broad nose and full lips that lean more toward African ancestry. The appearance of freckles dots his cheeks and he possesses coal black eyes.

Submission Guidelines:

What We Want

For the second Colors in Darkness anthology, we are seeking, thirteen well-written, diverse tales of horror, paranormal and dark fantasy. Each story should mention some interaction with the ‘Dealer.’ Stories can range from subtle paranormal to terrifying horror and can take place at any point in history.

Submissions

▪ Submit your work to ( [email protected] ) with ‘CID Dealer: Story Title_Your Last Name’ in the subject line. Attach your story as a DOC or DOCX file. Submissions sent in the body of the email will not be read.

▪ Include a brief cover letter in the body of your email stating your name, pen name (if using one), story title with word count, a brief summary of your story, website or blog, and any professional publication credits you think might interest us.

▪ We are looking for works between 3,000-7,500 words. Please query if you wish to submit outside of these guidelines.

▪ No simultaneous submissions, please. We ask that you don’t submit a story to us and to another market at the same time.

▪ Multiple submissions are okay. If sending more than one story, please send them in separate emails.

Reprints

We are not accepting reprints for this anthology.

Payment

We will pay a flat rate of $20 US per story via PayPal only. Payment will be made within 30 days of publication. Authors will also receive one digital and one print copy of the anthology.

Rights

We are seeking exclusive Worldwide English Language rights for 12 months in print and digital formats.

Authors from outside of the United States are welcome.

Submission Deadline and Publication Schedule

We will be accepting submissions from April 15 – July 15, 2018, with the expectation that the announcement of stories selected will be announced by the end of August. The anthology is expected to be published by October 1st.

Via: Colors In Darkness.

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