Author: Lauren McMenemy

Trembling With Fear 12-17-23

Hello, children of the dark. As I write this, we are one week away from the Winter Solstice in the UK. The days are getting VERY dark indeed, and the wind has a chill that goes through your bones. Some people revel in this time of year, and you’d think I was the same given my penchant for dark tales—but actually, I’m a child of Australia, and I do need a decent balance of light and dark for me to feel alive. At this time of year, I am lethargic. Even more so than usual! I struggle to get out of bed. I crave cosy blankets and a giant mug of steaming hot tea. But then, as I was saying to a colleague yesterday, we’re made to be hibernating at this time of year. These things are natural!

So the year is winding down well and truly, but I take solace in knowing the light will soon return. I hope you and yours have been enjoying the season, whatever your beliefs.

For your holidays, this week we bring you the dark and speculative TWF menu. The short story comes from regular contributor Addison Smith, a terrifying take on tech horror—but not for the reason you think. Then we’ve got three fabulous tasty morsels for dessert:

  • D’vorah Shaddai has a shower, 
  • Epiphany Ferrell makes a final wish, and 
  • Nicolette Ward seeks the crossroads.

Finally, submissions are now closed for the Christmas special. TWF special editions editor Shalini is going through the (frankly) huge amount of stories we’ve received, and submitters will hear from her over the course of the next week. Keep an eye out for this one on Christmas Day—aka a week tomorrow! 😱

Now, it’s over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I’m done with my class so I’m really trying to get everything finalized for our release of Shadowed Realm. This is something we’ll really be mixing things up with if we continue next year to streamline the process. While I’m working on that, I’ve also been putting together the start of a goals list for the site on how we can optimize and expand it moving forward. Fingers crossed that with my time clearing up we’ll see some real progress over the next few months! 
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 12-10-23

Hello, children of the dark. This last week has been a bit fraught on the Horror Tree socials, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to address what’s been going on on other parts of this site. 

You’ll have heard and seen Stuart talking about how super-overloaded he is right now, between MBA and job and family and running the behemoth that is Horror Tree and all his other extracurriculars. Having hit a particularly tricky patch of deadlines, he had taken a few articles from long-time and trusted contributors on trust, not giving them the usual review. Unfortunately, one of these articles turned out to espouse the virtues of using ChatGPT to edit your work, which is very much against everything we stand for—and, quite rightly, caused a Twitter furore as writers felt let down and disappointed in the site they’d trusted for more than a decade. As soon as Stuart realised what had happened, he jumped to attention, addressed the issue, took down the story, and made his views on the matter clear. But some still weren’t happy with this, so I just wanted to make it 10,000% clear:

Trembling With Fear does not condone nor accept work that has been generated by AI, including in the editing process. 

This of course becomes more nuanced when you start to consider the tools we use everyday that are driven by AI—things like Grammarly, for starters. But the spirit remains true: if you ask AI to write your story, then you tidy it up and submit it under your name, you’ll be banned. If you write a story then input it to AI and ask it to edit it for you, you’ll be banned. Human endeavour is what we’re looking for here, and is what we celebrate and embrace. 

And if you missed Stuart’s post addressing the issue, you’ll find it on Twitter here, and the new version of the article is here.

With that out of the way, let’s just jump straight in with this week’s dark and speculative TWF menu. Our short story offering from Laura Stone is totally twist-tastic. Then we’ve got three fabulous tasty morsels for dessert:

  • Joshua Ginsberg goes meta, 
  • Lauren Kessinger waits in the asylum, and 
  • DJ Tyrer returns to the nursery..

Finally, submissions are now closed for the Christmas special. TWF special editions editor Shalini is going through the (frankly) huge amount of stories we’ve received, but you’ll likely hear from her much closer to the date of publication as to whether you’ve been successful.

Over to you, boss.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

By the time you’re reading this, I should be done with my MBA class and be able to breathe again. I still have a ton on my plate but it is absolutely what had put me over the top on getting anything productive done. 
 
As Lauren pointed out above, I made a huge misstep while trying to get through this class and let an article go up without actually reading it. I can (hopefully) guarantee that is never going to happen again. Either I or someone with editorial prowess will be making sure to go over everything that we publish, as well as running everything through AI detectors. (Which, there seem to be a ton of, and I’m not going to publically be stating which one(s) we’ll be using for anyone looking to game the system.) I’ll also add to Lauren’s statement on AI. We’re not against spellcheckers and grammar checkers and whatnot, it is currently generative AI that is hurting the creative world and what we’ll be  
 
At this point, everyone who submitted to Shadowed Realms should have been contacted. Between the busy season of holidays, we’ll be working on getting everything finalized here. 
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 12-3-23

Hello, children of the dark. How’s your week been? Mine has been so crazy busy and overwhelming that I absolutely, honest-to-god nearly forgot to put together this week’s issue. The boss likes to have these mid-week so he has plenty of time to do his thing and schedule it all in. This week? I’m sitting at my desk at 1pm on Saturday afternoon, prepping Sunday’s edition. Whoops. Sorry, Stuart!

With that in mind, let’s just jump straight in with this week’s dark and speculative TWF menu. Our short story offering from Alyson Faye sees a young woman find her forever-soulmate. Then we’ve got three fabulous tasty morsels for dessert:

  • Robert Allen Lupton will make all the writers groan with this one, 
  • Jordan Kocevski is rushing to escape from something, and 
  • Ron Capshaw writes this one in tribute to the late, great Shirley Jackson.

Finally, we’ve been getting an absolute influx of subs to our 🎄Christmas special🎄. The deadline for submissions to this one is the end of this week, so get ‘em in quick. TWF special editions editor Shalini is going through the (frankly) huge amount of stories we’ve received, but you’ll likely hear from her much closer to the date of publication as to whether you’ve been successful.

Now, it’s over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Hey all! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. This is the LAST WEEK of my current class. On top of that, I’ve got a huge project at work. After this week, our focus will be getting Shadowed Realms contracted, formatted and out into the world. 
 
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 11-26-23

Hello, children of the dark. Over on the other side of the pond from me today, as I write this, it’s your day of gratitude. We don’t do that whole thing over here, nor where I grew up, and truth be told I’m far too awkwardly British to express emotion in that way. Still, let me take this moment to say I am thankful to Stuart for continuing to run (and fund!) this here site, to my TWF predecessor Stephanie Ellis for vouching for me taking over from her last year, and to you, dear children of the dark, for continue to show up every week to read and celebrate some of the best emerging writers in dark speculative fiction. We may not have many of the big and famous names, but we have a strong and vibrant community of writers who do this because they love it and they want to share. I love that we can provide a platform from which to emerge into the darkness, kicking and screaming and trying to make voices heard. Thank you, all of you. (And if you want to show your own thanks to Stuart, consider becoming a Patreon—it really does make a difference to us!)

Now, before I need to go and shower off all this emotion, let’s move to this week’s edition where Rodney G Hatfield is dealing with an influx of strange critters. Then we’ve got three fabulous tasty morsels:

  • Nika Anuk relives some childhood scaries, 
  • Lionel Ray Green just wants some attention, and 
  • Alan Moskowitz has ghost troubles.

Special congrats to Nika—she tells me this is the first time she’s been published in English, her second language!

And just finally (in case you missed it), here’s a quick recap on the new processes at TWF Towers:

  • Drabbles, serials, and unholy trinities are still open all the damn time, and we still have an insatiable need for them
  • Short story submissions will only be open in 2-week seasonal windows, and you can find those details on our submissions page; next one opens on 1 January
  • Special editions submissions are still open in their own seasonal windows, and again the details are on the submissions page

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I know this mainly applies to those who live in the United States and I apologize for our audience from around the globe as I’m a bit focused here… As we embark upon the week of Thanksgiving, a time brimming with stories of gratitude and gatherings, let’s remember the unique magic we, as writers, hold in our hands—the power to craft worlds and weave futures. This isn’t a week primarily known for writing; however, Thanksgiving week can still be a significant time for writers in this genre, as it provides a unique backdrop for storytelling and may inspire themes of community, gratitude, and fantastical elements related to the season. So, try and blend one of these themes into your work this week and may your stories be as rich and fulfilling as the Thanksgiving feast. Happy writing!
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 11-19-23

Hello, children of the dark. 

Thanks for your understanding and patience with the short story changes; this gig is mainly walking a tricky tightrope, and it’s always nice when I shout into the void and it seems like it’s been heard!

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap on the new processes at TWF Towers:

  • Drabbles, serials, and unholy trinities are still open all the damn time, and we still have an insatiable need for them
  • Short story submissions will only be open in 2-week seasonal windows, and you can find those details on our submissions page; next one opens on 1 January
  • Special editions submissions are still open in their own seasonal windows, and again the details are on the submissions page

Any short stories submitted to us outside of these new seasonal windows will be returned unread; we will NOT be keeping them on file for you. You’ll need to resubmit, if you are still interested in doing so, when we announce that we’re reopen. Make sure you’re following Horror Tree (and me!) on social media for announcements.

As for everything in the queue, we’re working our way through them. Both Stuart and I have had the real world intrude on our available time quite massively, but we’re doing our best to get things on track. 

Personally, I am bloody exhausted—but also excited to see the UK Ghost Story Festival will be back in February! Expect announcements of guests in the next few weeks…

Now to this week’s edition and Cassandra Daucus, a regular drabbler in these pages, has expanded her world to bring us a short story set in the underground world of pesky pixies. Then we come back to street level for three delicious quick bites:

  • Nikki Anderson is climbing down, 
  • Francesco Levato needs stitches, and 
  • Dawn Colclasure discovers the dangers of reading.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Last week I had a delightful time at my cousin’s wedding. While I said I wouldn’t have much time to get stuff done, this weekend is the exact opposite! I’m ahead in school and so I have hours earmarked for finishing off my part of Shadowed Realms and reading through our backlog of TWF stories. And, fingers crossed, if I can get all of the reading done I have a million things to finish up on my To-Do list. We’ll see how it goes but I’m finally feeling like I’m catching up on life again. It’s only been a year and a half of craziness. 
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 11-12-23

Hello, children of the dark. You know how we’re all told to do big, scary things every now and then? Well, last week I did a big, scary thing I never thought I would do ever again: I started working full time, in an office, in the Big Bad City. Before you get too worried for my sanity, I can confirm it’s a temporary arrangement while one of my freelance clients recruits for a new permanent team leader (and, heck, I needed the money). It has, however, reminded me of a few things:

  • Commuting into London is still hell, but actually this one isn’t too bad as the tube ride is relatively quick
  • Oxford Circus in the lead-up to Christmas is worse than hell, especially later in the week, and especially when there are tourists around, but at least the lights are pretty
  • I actually quite like being in an office around other people?!
  • I can do hard shit when I put my mind to it

And speaking of hard shit, a reminder of the Big Scary Decision we made/announced last week: we’ve made changes to our submissions process for short stories only. If you have submitted a short story since we reopened just a couple of months ago, rest assured we have your piece and it’s with the team for review. Please also remember that we all do this in a volunteering capacity, and we have A LOT to get through, so it will take us some time to respond. Patience, please! If you do seek publication elsewhere and your story is accepted before we get a chance to respond, please let us know so we can pull the story from consideration. We don’t take reprints. 

A recap of how to submit to TWF:

  • Drabbles, serials, and unholy trinities are still open all the damn time, and we still have an insatiable need for them
  • Short story submissions will only be open in 2-week seasonal windows, and you can find those details on our submissions page; next one opens on 1 January
  • Special editions submissions are still open in their own seasonal windows, and again the details are on the submissions page

Any short stories submitted to us outside of these new seasonal windows will be returned unread; we will NOT be keeping them on file for you. You’ll need to resubmit, if you are still interested in doing so, when we announce that we’re reopen. Make sure you’re following Horror Tree on all the socials!

As I said last week, I’m sorry we have to be such hard-asses about this, but we can only afford to publish one short story every week—and at the current rate of submissions, it will take us years to get through everything we have. I hope you understand why we are making this change. We want to protect your great work while making sure we can keep up with spotlighting the best of you.

Let’s turn away from hard-asses and towards the darkest corners, and this week’s edition has Addison Smith needs to keep quiet amidst the debris. That is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Sarah Elliott needs a defibrillator, 
  • LN Hunter needs a reboot, and 
  • RJ Meldrum needs a routine.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Okay. So. This weekend I can guarantee you that I’ve gotten nothing ‘productive’ done with having preparing for and taking a midterm for my current MBA class and actually getting some fun in. (The Marvels is fantastic if you’re a Marvel movie fan and have been keeping up with the TV shows. On top of that, one of my cousins got married so that was another two days of festivities.) I did get ‘some’ reading for Shadowed Realms done as we’re currently widdling away stories that we love because there are just so many good ones. Honestly, we had enough “Yes” responses initially to fill two volumes, just not the funds for it. So. We’re getting there. Slowly (painfully slowly) but surely.
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 11-5-23

Hello, children of the dark. I promised an update to you all on our short story submissions situation, so here’s the tl;dr—we are closed to short story submissions for the rest of this year, and will only be open next year in 2-week windows once every quarter.

More detail? Here we go.

At present, we have close to 70 stories working their way through our review process—and we only reopened to submissions two months ago, after having been overwhelmed around this time last year and ending up fully booked for almost an entire year. We really don’t want that to happen again, so we tried being much more selective and hard-lined about what we choose to accept… But it hasn’t been enough. 

So after much thought and discussion, we’ve decided to change the way we handle our submissions processes. Pay attention, now: this is important.

>>We will still be open year-round for drabbles, serials, and unholy trinities.

HOWEVER

>>Short story submissions will be open in 2-week seasonal windows as follows:

  • Winter: 1-15 January
  • Spring: 1-15 April
  • Summer: 1-15 July
  • Fall: 1-15 October

Any short stories submitted to us outside of those windows will be returned unread, with a note to resubmit during the next window. This also makes it doubly important that you mark any submissions to our special editions (Valentines, Summer, Halloween, Christmas) as being for the appropriate edition, otherwise your story won’t be read. 

I’m sorry we have to be such hard-asses about this, but we can only afford to publish one short story every week—and at the current rate of submissions, it will take us years to get through everything we have. I hope you understand why we are making this change. We want to protect your great work while making sure we can keep up with spotlighting the best of you.

Right. Hard hat off, let’s get to the matter at hand: Hilary Ayshford sees some echoes of the past in this week’s TWF main menu. It’s followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • KL Bexon is gripped by grief,
  • Cassandra Daucus is perplexed by a new room feature, and 
  • Nicolette Ward gets her dancing shoes on.

Finally, to those on my side of the pond: remember, remember, the 5th of November. May your bonfire night be bright and merry. 

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Holley and I are super busy trying to get Shadowed Realms done, we’re down to our final round of cuts though it is involving a lot of re-reading as we truly have enough for two books (Well, quality story-wise that is, not budget-wise.) I’m also in my final class for my MBA program. To say things are hectic is a bit of an understatement! Still, progress is being made my friend and I apologize it is taking so long.
 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Trembling With Fear 10-29-23

Hello, children of the dark. Quickly, because I’m still prepping for my vampire extravaganza and I’m already running late with this week’s edition (sorry, boss!).

I know I promised last week that Stuart and I would revisit the short stories submission windows, but truth is we just haven’t had a chance. (Well, I haven’t yet poked him – see previous paragraph about time.) Will try to sort out our approach before the next issue. 

And before we jump to this week’s TWF menu, it would be remiss of a dark fiction zine to not wish you all a happy Halloween, blessed Samhain, and all other celebrations of the dark. May the veil part as much as you desire on Tuesday night. 

Now, to the matter at hand: Emma Burnett brings us one helluva dark futuristic speculative tale. Honestly, this one is magnificent, and it’s followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Victoria Savage tackles a take on a TikTok trend,
  • Amanda Brimley needs to find a recluse, and 
  • Leigh-Anne Burley likes broken things.

PS the TWF Halloween special is ready to go; keep an eye on these pages in two days’ time!

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Here we are, standing at the edge of October, teetering on the brink of the extraordinary. The leaves have donned their most vibrant hues, and the air is alive with whispers of the coming Halloween. I’m brimming with anticipation and excitement, ready to share with you a collection of tales that embody the spirit of this captivating season.

October is a month of transformation, a time when the world around us shifts into a tapestry of color and shadows. Did you know that October was once the eighth month of the Roman calendar, and its name is derived from ‘octo,’ meaning eight? It’s a month that, historically, has been a bridge between the harvest’s abundance and winter’s quietude, and it’s the perfect backdrop for the stories we’ve curated for you in this week’s ‘Trembling With Fear.’

The stories are ready, the shadows are deepening, and the stage is set for a journey into the heart of the season. Are you ready to step into the dark?

 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is ready to order! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores do you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)