Taking Submissions: Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives

Pitch Deadline: March 15, 2019 (Must Pitch First!)
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2019
Payment: $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits and a contributor’s copy

So, are you interested in submitting a story to a new anthology? And will it be extraordinarily exciting, devilishly clever, cunningly mysterious, and have Sherlock Holmes teaming up with one or more occult detectives? Then read on, for today we have the serious details on pitches, pay and plans. And supernatural fiction historian (and writer) Tim Prasil calls by to suggest a few characters.

As we said in our last article, John Linwood Grant is editing the Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives anthology for Belanger Books. JLG is the author of both Holmes stories and occult detective stories – even the two at once occasionally, as part of his ‘Tales of the Last Edwardian’ series. And as a harassed writer, he also knows that what you really want to hear right now is How Long, How Much, and When. Let’s get those out of the way before we explain exactly what’s required.

Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives

Belanger Books

Core concept: A 5,000 – 10,000 word traditional Sherlock Holmes and occult detective “team up” story.

Payment: Authors shall receive a payment of $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits (expected minimum payment of $100), and a paperback copy of the anthology.

Rights: Authors shall retain rights to their work. We only retain the rights to the story within the publication.

Pitch Deadline: March 15, 2019

Submission Deadline: July 15, 2019

Note: Kickstarter will run in November 2019 and publication of book will occur in December 2019.

What We Want

This bit is detailed, not because it’s a terribly complex idea, but because it all increases the chances of us taking your story. And it has a few hints. The more in tune with us you are, the more we’ll wag our tails when we read your submission. If you’re confident that you’ve already grasped the concept, or you’re an experienced writer, you might decide to use it just to double-check. We’d still prefer you read it through.

We want stories which have all the following – four straightforward key elements:

  1. Sherlock Holmes (and/or Watson) as a key protagonist; a proper, authentic Conan Doyle-type Holmes, in full character.
  2. One or more occult detectives, as the other key protagonist(s), ones who could have taken up a case at the same time as Holmes was alive and functioning. This means Public Domain figures from around 1875 – 1925* OR your own original character operating in the same time period. These are also encouraged.
  3. A strong supernatural, paranormal, occult, psychic or other ab-natural element which is crucial to the story. As mentioned last time, you CAN try a ‘debunking’ tale, where a mundane explanation ensues, but we won’t take many of those.
  4. An actual case/investigation – not Holmes and Carnacki happening to see a ghost pass by, whilst they argue about camera techniques over coffee.

We do not want time-travel stories or steampunk – or Lovecraftiana, unless the latter is very clever, subtle and original, in which case we might have a glance. Think Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, Arthur Machen, L T Meade and so on. Late Victorian, Edwardian and Twenties scariness.

* Do check the occult detective is in the Public Domain. Seventy years after the author’s death is the usual rule-of-thumb, except for some important characters where an Estate is still active and protecting its copyrights. Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, for example.

The Pitch

It’s possible to do this sort of thing and end up with blocks of similar stories, however well written they are. Seventeen cases where Holmes and Dr Hesselius prove that the apparition at Gruntling Hall was in fact the butler in a sheet (but that the family was genuinely cursed anyway, because a wicked ancestor ate cheese too late at night). Or ten cases of werewolves, phosphorescent pain and missing boots.

For this anthology, we would like short pitches – say a hundred to two hundred words or so (the paragraph above is seventy words, as an example) – telling us about your planned story:

  1. The decade and general physical setting(s), e.g. London; a decaying Cornish farmhouse, before WWI; a fancy hotel in Paris.
  2. The sort of supernatural threat/mystery, e.g. classic ghostly appearances; physical monstrosity on the loose; madman possessed by something; cursed item. Get us intrigued.
  3. The occult detective(s) involved, e.g. Van Helsing late in his career; John Bell having decided spirits do exist; Carnacki at his wits end and needing a co-conspirator.
  4. A hint of plot, to show you have a story broadly in mind.

If you’ve never pitched before, have a go at it, and we’ll tell you if you have something there which we think is worth pursuing. If you’ve done it before, you know the drill.

The authors of the pitches we like will be invited to write up a full submission for possible inclusion, so you’ll then have a further three months. No guarantees, but it means that you’re at least on the right lines, so your chances go up.


The Occult Detectives (aka The Doomed Meddlers)

No, they’re not always doomed, we just like the term. They risk their lives, their sanity or their bank balances in the investigation of the dark and mysterious. Holmes you should already know, but what about the characters he will work with here? You have a wide range of possibilities open to you, and yes, we may well take more than one team-up with the same occult detectives (from different authors), if the stories are that good.

occult detectives

We hand over for a moment to Tim Prasil, a keen anthologist of early supernatural stories and the creator of Vera van Slyke, his own dauntless investigator…

Prasil on Paranormal Protagonists

Some fictional occult detectives contemporary with Sherlock Holmes are well-recognized: William Hope Hodgson’s Thomas Carnacki and Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence lead the team with Arthur Machen’s Dyson and Richard Marsh’s Augustus Champnell close behind. However, there are lesser known characters who, were they to cross paths with Holmes, might result in an interesting adventure. Were one to ask me to name my Top Five Lesser-Known Occult Detectives Contemporary with Sherlock Holmes, I would gladly name them—even if the one asking had a chronic infatuation with a dog-deer crossbreed known as “lurchers.”

  1. We start with the hazy and unnamed investigator in H.G. Wells’ “The Red Room” (1896). What brought him to Lorraine Castle to investigate its fearful Red Room? What is his relationship to the young Duke, the unfortunate fellow who “had begun his dying” after merely opening the door to the Red Room? We know Wells’ protagonist arrives as a skeptic (as do others on my list), so how does his experience change him?
  2. While we’re on the subject of potentially converted skeptics, let’s consider Lady Julie Spinner, a promising character in a disappointing novella by an anonymous author. The piece is titled “Wanted—An Explanation” (1881), wherein Lady Julie says, “I have been a hunter of ghosts all my life, and have never been able even to meet with a single person who has seen one.” However, after being stymied by the strange events at Hunt House, does her view of the boundaries of reality expand?
  3. From Lady Spinner, we move to Lord Syfret. The adventures of this serial character might be a bit tough to locate, but Arabella Kenealy’s series of short stories titled Some of Lord Syfret’s Experiences has been reprinted by Coachwhip Press. That is, seven of them appear in that reprint, and one source reports that eleven tales appeared in Ludgate magazine in 1896 and 1897. Here’s a borderline occult detective that’s awaiting a full resurrection by a literary detective, if not a creative writer.
  4. Enough with the nobility—let’s look at a duo that beat Mulder and Scully by roughly a century. Miss Erristoun and Mr. Calder-Maxwell investigate the title room in Lettice Galbraith’s “The Blue Room” (1897). The story is remarkably Victorian in that Miss Erristoun is reduced from a gutsy rebel to a wilting maiden-in-distress (one who marries the man she earlier waved off as wanting to tame her). But what if that marriage crumbled quickly, and she rejoined the scholarly Calder-Maxwell to investigate other cases of ghosts-that-aren’t-really-ghosts-at-all?
  5. I end with what would amount to a crossover of Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle. Dr. Hardacre, in ACD’s “The Brown Hand” (1899), is a doctor whose hobby is psychical research and who, upon solving his rich uncle’s otherworldly problem, winds up in a very nice position to make probing occult mysteries his full-time job. No doubt, he and Dr. Watson might have a jolly time debating diagnoses: demon possession or delirium tremens—lycanthropy or laryngitis?

Links to all of these stories—except the mildly elusive Lord Syfret ones—can be found on either the Chronological Bibliography of Early Occult Detectives or the Legacy of Ghost Hunter Fiction bibliographies at my Brom Bones Books website.

We have our own set of perhaps lesser known potential characters, such as:

  • Gerald Canevin, of Henry S Whitehead’s Caribbean tales;
  • Alice & Claude Askew’s Aylmer Vance
  • The young woman of Ella Scrymsour’s stories – Shiela Crerar, Psychic Investigator;
  • John Bell, the confirmed and determined sceptic of L T Meade & Robert Eustace**;
  • Dr. Martin Hesselius created by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu;
  • Flaxman Low, from the pen of ‘E & H Heron’.

** L T Meade & Robert Eustace also wrote three tales of a palmist, Diana Marburg.

And the pages of the magazine Occult Detective Quarterly might provide more general inspiration – there are great period tales therein of Aaron Vlek’s Geoffrey Vermillion (ODQ #4), Amanda DeWees’ Sybil Ingram (#1 & ODQ Presents), Joshua M Reynolds’ Charles St.Cyprian (# 1 & #4), Melanie Atheron Allen’s Simon Wake (#3), Aaron Smith’s Miss Mason (#3) and more. You can’t nick their characters, though.

NOTE: Ace storyteller Willie Meikle, who has chronicled Carnacki’s further adventures at length, even provided a supernatural Holmes story, ‘The Ghost Shirt’, in ODQ#3, and Brandon Barrows wrote a tale of Carnacki in his earlier years, ‘The Arcana of the Alleys’, for #2 .

occult detectives
available now on amazon

Please note that we don’t want lots of laboured and archaic speech, or an excess of Cockney chimney-sweeps and ridiculously posh-talking nobility. Moderate and appropriate use of contractions and period slang, cant and vernacular, please.

A Note on Inclusivity and Discrimination

It was perfectly possible in late Victorian, Edwardian and 1920s Britain to be active and respected whilst being a feminist, being black, being gay or being restricted in physical ability (as just a few examples). Don’t limit the scope of your characters’ personal nature, situation or views. Whilst limited situational discrimination may occasionally be relevant in context of the period – in order to reflect characters’ life histories or traumas – sexism, racism etc. in general will not be accepted.


General queries on the anthology for JLG (but NOT full submissions) can be sent to the same email address.

Via: Grey Dog Tales.

Taking Submissions: Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly Summer 2019

Deadline: May 15th, 2019
Payment: Contributor’s Copy

As the name suggests, submissions to Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly have a quarterly window.

Deadline is February 15th for Submissions for Spring Quarter (Ostara and Beltane)

Deadline is May 15th for Submissions for Summer Quarter (Litha and Lugnhasadh)

Deadline is August 15th for Submission for Autumn Quarter (Mabon and Samhain)

Deadline is November 15th for Submission for Winter Quarter (Yule and Imbolc)


General Submissions Guidelines:

Please send your submission in an email where the subject line is Submission: Title, where Title is the name of your article or piece, to [email protected].  Note that our submissions can often become backed up due to the number of people on staff, so please allow up to four weeks for us to respond.  If queries or submissions have been unanswered after six weeks, please send us an email with ‘QUERY’ in the subject line.

Please indicate which prospective issue your piece is being submitted for.

What We Are Looking For:

Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly is looking for fiction and non-fiction submissions for our quarterly publication. OPQ is a quarterly magazine dedicated to folk religion, spirituality, and paganism of all paths and stripes. Whether your article is over Witchcraft, Fey Work, Reiki, Heathenry, or other equally important paths, we would love to feature the independent voices of our community.  Though we are located in Oklahoma and as a result are focused on our local community, we also want to hear from those in other states, locations, and countries.

Taking Submissions: The Once and Future Moon

Deadline: April 30th, 2019
Payment: £10 and a contributor’s copy

A new fiction anthology to be edited by Allen Ashley and to be published by Eibonvale Press (UK) during 2019.


Guidelines from Allen Ashley:

This will be an anthology of stories set on / dealing with the abiding influence of the Moon.

You can take a literal or non-literal approach.

The “Once” aspect will deal with how older cultures / earlier civilisations / people in history saw the Moon, considered and reflected upon the Moon. Think Verne, Wells, Godwin. Think mythology. Think the Sumerians. Think the Ancient Greeks. Think beliefs held by vanished cultures. These stories do not have to be factually, scientifically accurate; the Moon element could be seen as poetic, figurative, imaginative, etc. These stories will likely form one-third of the book. Possibly half.

For “Future”, I am looking at both the liveable near-future (e.g. up to 50 years’ time) and slightly further ahead as well. I want stories grounded in how we will live on / adapt to / use the Moon in the near and further future. What issues might we face – some of which have yet to be even thought of by NASA?

I will also look at stories about how the Moon will affect our lives going forward. Will it be the site of the next war? Will it be the focal point of a conflict between science and religious forces (consider how the Moon is central to many religious practices)? What happens if the Moon starts to move closer to us or to move further away? What if the Moon was badly damaged or destroyed? What if the Moon acquired a companion?

I am likely to take between half and two-thirds of the stories for this segment.

These Guidelines are meant to be inspirational rather than constrictive. I am happy to read stories that treat the Moon and its influence and importance in ways I have failed to anticipate. I will consider anything speculative, whether that speculation manifests itself as science fiction or science fantasy or more nebulous conjecture. Just one proviso: The Moon must be central to your story. If your story would work just the same without the lunar element, then it’s not for us.


Taking Submissions: The First Line – Summer 2019

Deadline: May 1st, 2019
Payment: $25.00 – $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 – $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction and a contributor’s copy

To celebrate twenty years of publication, we’re going to revisit the past. There are no new first lines for 2019. Each issue will be comprised of original works based on past first lines.

Were you inspired by the fall 2008 first line (Roy owned the only drive-thru funeral business in Maine.) but didn’t see the sentence until 2015? Or maybe you started writing a story for the spring 2005 issue (Life would be so much easier if I were a cartoon character.) but you never got around to submitting it. Or maybe you sent us a story that just missed the cut and you reworked it and want to try us again. Well, now is your chance to make up for missed opportunities.

The following is the schedule/list of first lines for the 2019 issues (click the season to see the entire list of first lines for each issue):

Summer 2019
All submissions must begin with one first line from Volume 6, Issue 1 to Volume 10, Issue 4.
Due date: May 1, 2019

A few notes:

  1. Don’t just resubmit a story we’ve already rejected. We will know. We have every story submitted to us on file and why we rejected it.
  2. Also, we understand that writers may add our first line to a story they are currently working on or have already completed, and that’s cool. But please do not add our first line to a previously published story and submit it to us. We do not accept previously published stories, even if they have been repurposed for our first lines.
  3. However, if you used one of our past first lines for a story that was published in another journal or magazine, write and tell us about it.

Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won’t get your story tossed from the slush pile).

Poetry: All poems must be written with the first line provided. The sentence can be broken across lines, but the punctuation cannot be altered or dropped. Poem length is up to the poet.

All Submissions: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.

Multiple Submissions: We don’t mind if you want to submit multiple stories or poems for the same issue.

Submissions: We prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to submission (@) thefirstline (dot) com. We accept stories in MS Word or Word Perfect format (we prefer attachments). Please do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google docs. Make sure you tell us what issue you are submitting to in the email Subject Line. Make sure your name and contact information, as well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories also can be sent to The First Line‘s post office box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying SASE with sufficient return postage.

Notification: We don’t make decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within three to four weeks after the issue’s deadline to everyone who submitted a story. You can also check the home page of the Web site as we will indicate each issue’s production status there.

Payment: We pay on publication: $25.00 – $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 – $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). We also send you a copy of the issue in which your piece appears. You’ll receive your money and issue at the same time.

Note to our international writers: Postage cost for sending author copies overseas is becoming outrageous, so we are reducing international author payment by the amount it would cost to send one author copy overseas. However, if you would like to receive an electronic version of the issue (PDF) instead of a hard copy, author payment will not change.

Via: The First Line.

Taking Submissions: Welcome to the Splatter Club

Deadline: April 1st, 2019
Payment: .01 cent/word plus 1 contributor copy
Note: You must be a member to submit, free to join here.

Welcome to the Splatter Club:  Beyond the requirement that you are a member of the Splatter Club, there are no limits on what you may submit. Obviously, we want to publish the kind of stories that Splatter Club members enjoy reading and something that will proudly highlight our unique genre of literature to the world but it is non-themed beyond splatterpunk, bizarro, and weird fiction.

As discussed in the Facebook group, this will feature both seasoned authors and you fresh meat writers looking for your first publication. Even though we are combining the previous two anthology calls into one, we will still use the original email.

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Length: 500 words up to 6K
  • Deadline: April 1, 2019
  • Multiple Submissions: No
  • Simultaneous Submissions: No
  • Payment: .01 cent/word plus 1 contributor copy

The submission period runs from Jan.- April 1st 2019 and the reading period will last from April – June 2019 with final decisions being announced by July 1st 2019

Not a Member? Join here for free!

Via: Splatter Club.

Taking Submissions: Barnhouse June 2019

Deadline: April 1st, 2019
Payment: $20 + contributor copy.

reading periods:

June 15th  – September 1st for the Winter Issue

Feburary 1st – April 1st for the Summer Issue


payment is $20 + contributor copy.

send your best. we are only able to accept around 4% of what we receive.

simultaneous submissions accepted.

multiple submissions allowed.

you may submit up to twice per reading period.

if accepted, please wait until two reading periods have passed before submitting again.

we’ll get back to you within a month.



poetry – send 2-5 poems in a single document.

fiction / nonfiction / essays – up to 2000 words.

flash fiction – up to three pieces in a single document – 1000 words.

(send all work in a word doc / pdf).

we will only consider unpublished work.

please put the genre + your last name in the subject line.

a short bio (50-75 words) will be requested upon acceptance.

if your work is accepted, we get FNASR. after publication, all rights revert back to you.


send submissions / love letters to [email protected]

send queries to [email protected]

Via: Barnhouse Journal.

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