Author: Angeline Trevena

Story Worms: Lessons from Lockdown

As the world begins to emerge from lockdowns—tired eyes blinking, hair unkempt, fashion more questionable than ever—it’s normal that things feel different. It’s bound to feel like things have shifted: the world, ourselves. We may have changed our focus, or shifted our priorities. We may be feeling that everything is futile, or we might be filled with new passions and vigour. There’s no right or wrong. We feel what we feel.

There are hints of normality, but it’s still wrapped up in an overall strangeness. Change can be difficult, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t think that you have to instantly bounce back, slipping flawlessly into the life you had before. Take your time. Reflect. Breathe.

I’ve just returned to the slimming group that I’m a member of; a tiny slice of my previous life restored back to me. In our first session, our consultant asked us two questions: “What do you want to leave in lockdown?” and “What do you want to bring with you out of lockdown?” She encouraged us to think of bad habits we may have adopted through the pandemic, or lifelong habits that, through the filtered lens of lockdown, we had reconsidered. She also urged us to find good habits that we wanted to continue, or something we wanted to start doing from now on.

And it got me thinking about these questions in regards to my writing.

Nyx Is Open To Novels And Novellas! (Early Listing)

Submission Window: July 1st – 31st, 2021
Payment: 50% net sale royalty rate for ebooks and audiobooks and a competitive rate for print rights.
Themes: 10,000+ word stories that fall under Speculative Fiction
Note: I’m listing this a month early so if anyone is finishing cleaning up their work they have a bit of time!

Upcoming call for submissions: open call (July)

What we’re looking for

Nyx Publishing will open for general submissions for the first time in July. If you have a manuscript that you want us to read that, that hasn’t been included in a previous call for submissions, this is your opportunity!

Nyx Publishing is seeking exciting completed manuscripts for the adult and new adult market of over 10,000 words (there is no maximum word limit). We are currently not seeking children’s books or young adult stories.

Taking Submissions: The Dead Inside

Deadline: August 2nd, 2021
Payment: Poetry: $25 per poem, Flash Fiction: $25, Short Stories: $50, NonFiction: $50
Theme: Identity Horror

Dark Dispatch is excited to announce we’re teaming up with Laurel Hightower (Crossroads, Whispers in the Dark) for The Dead Inside, an anthology of identity horror. Explorations of what happens when our core identities are stripped, altered, suppressed, or denied to us, whether by choice or not. The way parenthood turns you into a different person. How toxic masculinity shapes us and robs boys of their childhoods. Suppression of race, culture, or ethnicity to stay safe, get the job, or grab that publishing contract. Being forced to stay closeted for safety, acceptance, or love. How does a lifetime of suppression and self-hatred affect us? What might our lives have been like if we’d been able to break free? Who do we become when we perpetuate the same patterns? And who are we, really, when we strip down the outer skin of what we are? Submissions open May 15.

Editors: Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan

Publisher: Brian Lindenmuth

Submission Guidelines

Opens May 15 to submissions of original works focusing on the theme of identity horror. Submission window closes August 2, 2021 midnight EDST. We accept submission of the following: (more…)

Taking Submissions: Deadly Love

Deadline: July 9th, 2021
Payment: Two-Sentence Stories: $10, Flash Fiction: $25 per story, Short Stories: $50 per story
Theme: Deadly Love
Note: Reprints welcome at a lower, undisclosed pay rate.

The second issue of Dark Dispatch will be a themed issue, featuring stories on Deadly Love. Let your mind wander to the dark places and share your horror love stories about relationships gone wrong. This submission call opens May 5, and will be open until July 9, 2021.

Submission Guidelines

Opens May 5 to submissions of original works focusing on the theme of deadly love.

Clarification: romantic horror should be an element in the story. It should focus on love gone wrong. The stories can fall within the dark fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and crime genres.

Submission window closes July 9 at midnight EDST. We accept submission of the following: (more…)

The World’s Most Magnificent Libraries

Like many avid readers, my love of books began at my local library. I grew up in a small town, and our library was equally small; a single room below the town hall, just over a bridge which was the subject of a scary local urban legend! And it had the best thing any library can ever have: an amazing and passionate librarian.

When people think of libraries, they often just think of a room with lots of books. But it’s the people that really make it. You won’t remember all the books you borrowed, but you will remember a great librarian. Forever.

But libraries don’t only hold books. There are many more reasons that people visit libraries, and a lot more that they can see there. From comic books and maps to wolf pelts and smells, The World’s Most Magnificent Libraries (Great Big Story) explores the most awe-inspiring and unexpected of libraries from around the globe.

Taking Submissions: The Rebel Diaries

Deadline: June 30th, 2021
Payment: Royalty Split
Theme: What happens when the villain wins?

What happens when the villain wins?

Sick of dashing debonairs? Fed up of being blinded by shining armor?

Sometimes, all a girl wants is a villain for a hero. The Rebel Diaries is looking for stories starring characters with a dubious shade of morals. We want characters who aren’t afraid of getting what they want, causing a bit of chaos, dabbling in mischief and mayhem, and slathering on the sarcasm.

We want stories that slip into the grey areas, that are bulging with villains, deviants and rebels. We’re after sassy tales littered with questionable morals and happy endings—for the villains anyway.  

We are not looking for horror or gratuitous violence, but dark stories that are fun, light hearted explorations of the characters usually hidden in obscurity. 

Story Worms: You Can’t Kill Zombies

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with horror. The macabre. The spooky. My teens were spent working through the horror classics with my brother, and completely obsessing over The X-Files.

But there is one monster that I just keep coming back to. The zombie.

I often hear it claimed that the zombie genre is dead, no pun intended. That everything that can be done with it, has been done with it. That the only option left is to keep rolling out the tired, old tropes we’ve all seen before.

Now, for one thing, people love tropes. Tropes are too often confused with cliches, but these are two very distinct things, although there is crossover, and tropes can end up becoming cliches. Think of tropes as route markers, as milestones. They are clues and hints, given to your readers, to let them know that they are reading a book of a particular genre. A genre they love. They are simply clues to your reader to read on, because you promise they’ll enjoy it.

We are, by nature, creatures of habit. We like the familiar. The familiar is safe. And so, we love our genre tropes. The elderly mentor or the chosen one in fantasy, the corrupt government and intrusive surveillance in dystopias, the one person who managed to sleep through the whole apocalypse. We love them, we seek them out, and we enjoy the familiarity.

But, on the other side of that coin, we like to be unsettled too. Especially us horror fans. We like to see something safe and familiar turn around and become something terrifying. The psychotic child, the family pet turned monster, the harmless doll possessed. We do enjoy things being turned on their heads.

And, on that point, every time I hear anyone claim the zombie genre as being finished, someone releases a book, movie, or TV show that pulls something totally fresh out of the bag. Sure, there’s a lot of dross coming out of that bag too, but there are also absolutely stunning gems being revealed.

The thing about zombies, and the reason they’ve endured so well (other than the fact that so many people caught in zombie apocalypses seem to have never watched a zombie movie before, and have no idea of how to exterminate them), the reason they have endured is that they are so familiar. Scarily so. And dangerously so.

Zombies are not only humanoid, but they used to be human. Sometimes, they even retain human qualities. Sometimes, they’re barely distinguishable from humans at all. And, so often, they are people we have known, and loved. They’re our neighbours, our friends, our families. Hence the trope of the person bitten, and those around them being unable to kill them, until it’s too late.

Zombies also represent something else to us. They represent our deepest fears.

A zombie represents the part of ourselves that we have attempted to distance ourselves from. They are a reminder that, deep down, we’re nothing more than animals. Animals with base instincts: to feed, and to breed. We like to think of ourselves as better than that, that we’ve evolved beyond our animal ancestry. We don’t want to be reminded of what we truly are at heart.

And a zombie is, quite literally, an embodiment of our own mortality. Facing a zombie is looking death square in the face. And we don’t really like that. We can see what will become of us. How we will rot. Zombies remind us that we cannot live forever.

And until we stop fearing our deaths, or denying the animals that reside deep inside us, zombies will continue to fascinate, enthrall, disgust, and terrify. As long as we remain human, zombies will be everything we fear. Everything we fear about ourselves; what we were, and what we will become.

Story Worms: An Interview with Angelique Fawns, Author of ‘The Guide of all Guides’

Finishing writing your short story might feel like the end of a long journey, but it’s also the beginning of a brand new one, too. And, for new and seasoned writers alike, the submission process can be a minefield of decisions, uncertainty, and simple fear. It can be a daunting step, and there are many writers who struggle to take it.

But, what if you could have all of the answers in your hand? The inside scoop on the various publishers and their pay rates? How about what the editors are looking for, or how long you’ll have to wait for a decision?

That’s exactly what you get with Angelique Fawns’ book, The Guide of All Guides.

Angelique is a journalist and speculative fiction writer who started out writing articles about naked cave dwellers in Tenerife, and hosting a radio show in Mooloolaba, Australia. She now creates television commercials for Global TV in Toronto, and writes fiction in her spare time. Angelique lives on a farm north of the city with her husband, daughter, horses, goats, chickens, and a potcake rescue dog.

A prolific writer, Angelique has more than 30 short stories published across anthologies, magazines, and podcasts. Her stories have shared pages with the likes of Charlaine Harris and Piers Anthony. Penning tales of fantasy adventures, murder mysteries, zombie outbreaks, and horror carnivals, she is no stranger to any part of the speculative fiction spectrum.

I caught up with her to find out more.

How did you first start writing fiction, and what drew you to speculative fiction in particular?