Trembling With Fear 08/18/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

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

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

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

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

A Jar Of Baby Teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “What are you doing in my house?”  

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


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

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

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

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

            The woman cocks her head. “You will?”      

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

            “What happened to your family?” I ask.

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

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

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

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

“Where’s your bedroom, Charlotte?”

            “Down the hall.”

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

            “Good idea!” Charlotte calls behind me.

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

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

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

            “Don’t touch that!”

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

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

            I stand still, even my trembling knees pause.

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

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

            Charlotte screams and charges.

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

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

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


McKenzie Staley

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

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


Youtube channel:



Eyes Open

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

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

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


Stacey Jaine McIntosh

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


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


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


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


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


You can find her here:









Premiere Day

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

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

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

Jacek Wilkos

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

You can find him at


Feral churchyards

consumed by nature,

arrayed with gravestone teeth –

a giant’s maw filled with

the broken, the chipped, the lost

and the untended.

The stones chew the frothing summer grass,

reign proud over winter’s barren dirt.

Beneath – bones shifting, settling, decaying

whilst dead voices linger,

captured pre dawn

in the greying granite walls

glittering with grief.

Heard only by the corvids

garnishing the trees branches

in their black tattered cloaks.

Avian mourners,

a cacophonous choir,

drowning out

the whispering of wraiths;

those lingering souls who suck up

the chilly silence –

a banquet for eternity.

Requiescat in Pace.


Alyson Faye

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

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

Her blog is at

Her amazon author is at and she’s on twitter as @AlysonFaye2.

Taking Submissions: Vestal Review – Web Edition

Deadline: November 30th, 2019
Payment: $10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our reading periods are:

1. February-May
2. August-November

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Via: Vestal Review.

Taking Submissions: An Untitled Stormy Island Publishing Anthology

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

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

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

We will accept only one submission per author.

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

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

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

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

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

For details on how to submit, visit our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Via: Stormy Island Publishing.

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

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

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

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

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

Our themes for 2019 will be:

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We do not publish erotica or thinly-veiled fanfiction.

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

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

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

Via: Apparition Lit.

Trajan’s Arch Blog Tour – On Mythic Fiction

On Mythic Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Williams

Michael Williams

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

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

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

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