Trembling With Fear 06/17/2018

Thank you to everyone who’s continued supporting TWF by sharing their drabbles and flashes with us. We have been having a consistent run of quality work which has been wonderful to read.

Remember we are still seeking serials and currently have an author who is actively working on one for us now. It actually evolved out of her first submission which we felt was the start of a longer story and is now developing quite nicely. Perhaps you have something similar tucked away in a folder?

In addition, we’ve just accepted a poem for publication and if any of you have some dark poetry you would like to send in, we are more than happy to consider it. My only request would be that you follow our guidelines in terms of content and poems are reasonably short – they do not have to be drabble length. I would tentatively state no more than 30 lines and see how we go from there.

So, a slightly shorter editorial this week, but then again I’ve got a story to write for that rare Cemetery Dance submission window. Hope everyone else is having a bash at it, it’d be great if a TWF writer ends up gracing its pages. If you already have done, what’s your secret?!

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

With how long I took on getting things together for the first year’s TWF in print, some of the contracts had expired. This last week saw me mass e-mailing everyone involved and ideally, this will be a quick turn around that gets things moving forward asap as we’ve got almost everything else fully completed!

‘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

Misery In Chaos

By: Arthur Unk & A.J. Cain

Charlie watched the snow fall outside while lost thoughts wandered far away. Elizabeth’s sobs echoed through the emptied room and snapped him back to dark reality. He couldn’t see where she was. Something felt wrong, but he couldn’t focus long enough to hold a thought in his head. “Misery is peace in the eyes of chaos,” he whispered to himself. The voice inside his head was back and taunted him again. It was hard to tell what was real anymore. The salty taste of tears on his lips had been there for a long time.

He stared at the framed picture of him and Elizabeth on their wedding day. It was a special day for both of them. A few weeks afterwards they found out that she was pregnant; he was going to be a father. That was the happiest he and his wife had ever been. A strong feeling of sadness, like something, was missing washed over him again. There was a void inside him, and he couldn’t remember why. The oppressive darkness enveloped him and quietly faded all his senses to black.

Charlie found himself outside in a stupor trying to silence the demon in his mind. He made his way behind the steering wheel of his car and stared at himself in the rear-view mirror. He did not recognize the hollow eyes that stared back. sleep was a luxury he could no longer afford. A piece was missing inside. The demon filled the void with sad images and things unknown.

“Love has no price? Wrong again, Charlie. Your sanity is the price you’ll pay for her love.” The voice was not his own.

Faint echoes of a local rock radio station created a dull white noise. He pulled the car onto the road. Blue Oyster Cult played the evening’s soundtrack. Darkness returned as the road faded away.

“Come on baby. Don’t fear the reaper…

Charlie pulled off to the side of the country road, put the car in park, and watched the snow fall over a field. The snowflakes were fine like sand in an hourglass. Time became meaningless, abstract. Muffled screams mixed with the song on the radio.

“There’s a lady who’s sure. All that glitters is gold…”

“Help! Help me! Please! Anyone!”

“…And she’s buying a stairway to heaven…”

“Peace comes at daybreak,” Charlie whispered to himself. The cold barrel of a revolver against his skin brought reality together with this nightmare. The face in the mirror was hardly recognizable anymore. He took aim and closed his eyes. The revolver’s scream broke the silence of the night.

“…And as we wind on down the road. Our shadows taller than our soul…The tune will come to you at last. When all are one and one is all…”

Charlie’s eyes fluttered; ringing filled his ears. The demon in his head was silent for now. The voices stopped their screaming. A lingering odor of gunsmoke in his nostrils made the dream a reality. “Lord, why have you saved me?” Charlie cried. His thoughts shifted to his wife and daughter. A moment of clarity hit with the force of an out-of-control truck.

“Oh, Jesus! I have to save them!”

He scrambled out of the vehicle and the world went sideways as he slipped on ice. The revolver slid under the car and his head bounced off the pavement. The radio continued to play its concert to the drifting snow.

“Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again…”

Charlie woke with a headache and pain all over. Faded white ceiling tiles stared back at him. The bars across the small window cast playful shadows on the opposite wall of the mostly barren room. Charlie struggled to sit up, and rested his head in his hands. He closed his eyes in an attempt to will the throbbing away. The door next to his bed creaked open and an older woman with a white coat walked into the room.

“Good morning Charlie. It’s good to see you finally awake. How are you feeling?”

“Terrible,” Charlie began. “Where am I? What’s going on?”

“I’m Doctor Watkins and you are at the Macomb Institute.”

“This isn’t real. This cannot be happening,” Charlie said anger rising. “Macomb is a hospital for the insane.”

Doctor Watkins’s face remained expressionless, “Do you remember coming here?”

“No, I don’t. Where’s my wife? Is my daughter okay? I think they are both hurt somewhere.”

“That, I’m afraid, is a discussion for a later time.”

“What the hell do you mean at a later time? Where’s my goddamn family?”

“I just need you to concentrate on relaxing for now. You can go to the day room later if you think you can handle it.”

“How long have I been here?”

“We’ll talk more later on this evening. I’ll answer all your questions then.”

Charlie reached up and felt the bandages on his head after the doctor left. The heavy dressings did little to dull the tenderness. A few minutes later the pain regressed to a dull throb. Charlie left his room and walked down the hallway. There was an anxious feeling in his stomach like something bad had happened. It wasn’t long before a familiar voice sounded inside his head. The demon was awake again.

Charlie stopped at the entrance to the day room. The other residents watched television or played games at tables ignoring his arrival. He took one step into the room and the world spun out of control. The voice grew louder; the pain sudden and intense. Orderlies in white clothes circled around him and distant voices told him to calm down.

“Stay away from me! I don’t want to hurt you!”

Charlie fell to his knees and grasped his head. The demon took full control. His eyes turned black like the coal that fed the fires of hell.

“Nomen meum est Alastor… Nomen meum est Alastor… NOMEN MEUM EST ALASTOR!” Charlie repeated the same phrase over and over in a voice that was not his own.

The building shook; lights failed; people screamed; walls crumbled. Charlie embraced the chaos and left the hospital. Clouds overhead obscured a daytime eclipse. The demon in his head continued to laugh. Everything around him faded into a bottomless pit.

Charlie awoke kneeling in a cemetery in front of three graves. His wife was laid to rest next to his daughter; the third stone was his own. He could barely read the words on the stones through his tears. He remembered everything that had happened. Charlie began to sob uncontrollably and begged God for understanding. It all made sense now. He did not want the monster to have control over him anymore.

Charlie found a rough stone nearby and with a quick movement tore open his throat. The pain was horrible, but the relief was instant. He closed his eyes while laying on top of his own grave. His blood soaked into the ground. Charlie smiled as the demon’s voice and the world went away. Soon he would join his wife and daughter in the beyond. A song softly sounded through the air from the street nearby.

Oh, where oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me. She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good, so I can see my baby when I leave this world…”

Detective Andrews and a night nurse stood over the man who was found at the cemetery. The nurse checked his vitals and recorded them in her notes. “He’s lucky that anyone found him. Any idea who he is or why he did this to himself?”

“His name is Charlie Summers. So far, we know that he has been unstable a long time. He was a patient in the Macomb Institute off and on for the last three years. He had a wife, but she had a bad case of postpartum depression. She wound up killing herself along with their newborn daughter. From what I can tell, he snapped after the funerals and has pretty much lived in his own fantasy world since,” he said.

“But, how’d he escape a max mental hospital? I thought those places were locked down pretty tight?”

“The earthquake yesterday did some bad damage to the building. This guy wasn’t the only one that got out. Between the quake and the eclipse, all the loonies are in a tizzy this week. It’s a sad case, but you know what they say, ‘Misery is peace in the eyes of chaos‘.”

The machines in urgent care continued to beep as the sleeping figure of Charlie Summers lay in a coma. His demon had left and now rested comfortably on the shoulders of Detective Andrews. A radio quietly played in the background.

“Life, it seems, will fade away. Drifting further every day. Getting lost within myself. Nothing matters no one else…


Arthur Unk

Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets


A.J. Cain

A.J. Cain is an American writer who enjoys reading, sports, and spending time with his family. He is currently working towards his Master’s Degree in Military History with the hopes of one day becoming a college professor. His inspirations include Stephen King and James Patterson. Follow him on Twitter @AJCainOfficial.

Alone In The Forest

In that part of the forest where no traveller walks, the man who couldn’t die awaited execution.

He listened to the charges: treason, betrayal, hundreds dead thanks to his treachery.

A bullet would follow. A bullet, a shallow grave, and a miraculous escape some time later.

He didn’t start screaming until he saw the rope.

Afterwards, his brothers-in-arms remarked on how strongly he had kicked as the noose dug into his neck.

In that part of the forest where no traveller walks, the man who cannot die swings back and forth with the breeze, eyes long lost to the crows.


Douglas Prince

Douglas Prince is a 28-year-old writer of horror and other dark fiction. Born in Melrose, Scotland, he now lives on the Wirral peninsula, in Merseyside, where he writes stories and reads more books than can possibly be good for him. ‘Alone in the Forest’ is his first story.


The Change

I sat watching the mechanism on the wall clock gently slide back and forth. It was one of those fancy silver clocks with a mirror behind it; magnifying the slight, graceful swings of the tiny pendulums. No sound emitted from the clock, just mesmerizing movement.

“How many years would they continue to sway when the change came?” I wondered. I imagined hollowed out buildings overgrown with weeds, with mechanical instruments and gadgets entombed inside just quietly continuing to run. Some would run until the batteries died. Others would continue to operate on solar power: if the sun continues to shine.

Natalie Kurchak

Natalie Kurchak has always been an avid reader and consummate editor (willingly or unwillingly) of all things printed or posted in the English language. The first horror story that drew her in and never let her go was The Shining by Stephen King, followed closely by Salem’s Lot and The Stand. Horror is her favorite genre followed closely by history, non-fiction. She’s been married for 26 years, and has two kids and two pit bulls. A marketing professional by day, Natalie writes tons of marketing material for her job including commercial scripts, customer communications, and customer facing materials. A good friend of hers recently published her first book and in the process of helping her edit, she made the decision to start writing some tidbits. I hope you like what you read, and ask for more!

The Wolf Among Us

The wolf stalked through the underbrush, demon eyes a red fire in the moonlight.
I ran and the wolf pursued. I turned to face it and tripped over a branch, tumbling backwards just as the wolf leapt. The kitchen knife plunged deep between its ribs, slicking my chest with blood as the heavy body thumped on top of me.

I pushed it off, removing the chained ruby from it’s neck. It transformed back into Dad.

Tears streaked my face, remembering the scene I fled from. My family lost. I went deep into the forest, and hid the gem’s terrors forever.

Eric S Fomley

Eric S. Fomley writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror short fiction. He is the editor of Martian Magazine and the Timeshift and Drabbledark anthologies. His work has appeared in various venues including previous publications with Trembling with Fear. You can follow his publication on his website or on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.

The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with Marc Shapiro

Ruschelle: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us at the Horror Tree!

Marc: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Ruschelle: Your debut collection, Stories of High Strangeness, has been published by publishing newcomer Copypasta. Many stories we pen evolve from shreds of experiences, albeit fictionalized…well we hope. Where did you gain your inspiration for this collection?

Marc: My inspiration came from just wanting to tell good stories with unusual twists and turns. That is the overriding theme. When you read this collection, you won’t see any overriding theme. It’s not just one thing but ‘rather, a whole bunch of things. It’s, quite simply, a collection of stories. My approach to writing fiction is very organic. I come up with an idea, it rattles around in my head for a while and, if it continues to strike some kind of weird chord with me, I write it.

Ruschelle: You mentioned your early writing repertoire included selling rock musician interviews to magazines and underground newspapers. What was it like interviewing artists on the cutting edge of music in the 1960’s?

Marc: It was a gas! Interviewing an extremely loaded Ozzy Osbourne in his hotel room at 10 in the morning. Flying on The Who’s private touring plane to catch the band in Texas. Sneaking backstage at a concert at my college and walking right up to Cheech & Chong and asking for an interview for the college paper and getting nearly 45 minutes with them. It was still very new and exciting for the musicians and the journalists. I wrote for publications like The Los Angeles Free Press, Zoo World, Phonograph Record Magazine and Rock Around the World. The writers weren’t making a lot of money but, like I said, it was a gas!

Ruschelle: Your experiences sound awesome. You’re a music buff. What gets your creative blood pumping while writing? Does the type of music you listen to influence your writing style?

Marc: I’m probably the world’s oldest metal head. Put on Black Sabbath, Dio, Cirith Ungol. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, If it’s loud, dark and nasty I’m there. I’m also into 60’s psychedelia. If you’re old enough to remember bands like The Electric Prunes, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Standells, Love and just about any band out of San Francisco and Los Angeles, you know what I mean. I like movie soundtracks when they go to the dark, progressive side. I like The Exorcist and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly a lot. All that being said, when I write I write in silence. But more often than not the vibe from the music definitely winds up in a lot of my stories.

Ruschelle: Writing fiction is definitely a different monster than writing from a journalistic standpoint. Was there anything you learned or new skills you honed while conquering the fictional beast?

Marc: When you’re dealing with journalism or biographies, there’s an end game, a deadline that is always in your head. When you write fiction, the story is done when it’s done and not before. When I started to write short stories, the main thing I had to learn was get the story to the point where it works for me and then send it out into the world. I’m not a writer who talks about what he’s working on or even shows it to people when it’s done. My criterion has always been when somebody accepts it and publishes it, then the rest of the world can have it.

Ruschelle: If you could actually meet and hang out with the physical embodiment of any one of the characters you created, which one would it be? It’s the dude with the insatiable libido isn’t it? I bet he’d be fun at parties. LOL

Marc: There’s a lot of extreme, dangerous characters in my stories that if I saw them at a party or walking down the street, I would probably run the other way. Without giving too much away, the people in the stories Dose, What’s In A Name and Remember 85 are not the people one would want to spend too much time with. On the other hand, there are characters in the stories The Out Door, This Will Buy Us A Year and The Delicate Hours that I could probably be around for a while. Once you read those stories you’ll get an idea of where my head is at.

Ruschelle: Do you have another book of horror/fantasy/ Sci-Fi in the works?

Marc: I’ve got a few things that I’m playing around with that tend to lean towards horror and fantasy but are not quite ready to go out for consideration. Two chapbooks of poetry, Shakeout on Sex Street and Existential Jibber Jabbar, a full book of poetry, Melancholy Baby and a chapbook of short fiction called Out Of My Mind. I’ll know when it’s time to take a chance with them.

Ruschelle: Was there a defining moment in your life where you knew you wanted to write for a living?

Marc: Probably when I was 13. I was writing short stories, poetry and television scripts by that time. I didn’t know how good I was at that time but I knew I liked the idea of using my imagination to make magic. I also liked the way my byline looked on things. It would be seven years before I had anything published. But I knew the writing life was for me.

Ruschelle: Is there a topic you feel is too taboo to write about?

Marc: I will not do anything bad to children or animals. Otherwise it’s open season.

Ruschelle: As fiction writers and writers of the horror genre, we often write what we fear ourselves. What fears have ignited your writing?

Marc: The six o’clock news has always been a good jumping off point for me. The way humanity behaves on a daily basis has brought up more than one idea and a shudder on occasion. But finally, the fear that drives me is to wake up one day and have my imagination stripped from me. Fear of not having an idea is what, creatively, keeps me one step ahead of the Devil.

Ruschelle: You’ve written over 60 unofficial biographies of celebrities. That’s quite a few lives to get to know. Which artist started it all?

Marc: Way back in the day, I approached a UK publisher of rock music biographies called Omnibus Press about doing one of their rock books. I received a polite letter back informing me that they normally only use UK authors. But the very last line of the letter said that they were in fact contemplating doing a book on The Eagles and would I be interested? I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Ruschelle: The Eagles = ROCK ICONS! Was there anything you researched for your biographies that surprised a seasoned journalist like you?

Marc: When you’re dealing with Hollywood types nothing really surprises you after a certain point. My only advice to would be stars would be to save your money and don’t believe it will last forever. Because it rarely does. And that goes for authors too.

Ruschelle: Do you feel any ‘real life’ events from your autobiographies may sneak into your next bit of fiction? The names and specifics to be changed to protect the innocent of course.

Marc: If they have, it’s been on a subliminal level. But Icons have made occasional appearances. I used a real NFL team as a cornerstone to a short story entitled Cut Down Daze that was published a while back and I channeled a number of music personalities by name for a horror poem that will be coming out later this year called Night Rider.

Ruschelle: If you could co-write a book with any author who would it be? And let’s make it an attainable goal and let’s keep it in the realm of the living. Seances and invoking the dead never ends well.

Marc: That’s a tough one because all my influences have long since gone to the great beyond. I’m old school. I firmly believe in one writer/one vision.  If I could resurrect the dead we might be here all night. Charles Bukowski, Rod Serling, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury any and all of the Beats. Those are my literary gods.

Ruschelle: And literary gods they are. We all learn with age and experience. Well we’re supposed to anyway. In regards to writing and the writing experience, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Marc: That’s a toughie because we never really stop learning. As it pertains to the business…To be smarter about things like contracts, money, people. I learned that if you’re serious about writing for a living, you stop writing for no pay and exposure early on. I’ve worked for next to nothing but I stopped working for nothing eons ago. I wish I had been a bit braver in the early days, more willing to take chances. As I’ve gotten older I’ve adopted a say yes to just about any offer and let the chips fall where they may. I know I learned quite a bit about the writing business the day an editor pulled a gun on me when I was trying to collect the $20 he owed me. And that was how to duck.

Ruschelle: Learning to duck is never a bad lesson, LOL.  What do you find more challenging, fiction or journalism?

Marc: Both forms have their moments. Journalism can be like a good detective story, tracking down the facts and the people who can shed light on the person you’re writing about. Fiction forces you to stretch your imagination and conceive of ideas, notions and characters and yet have it all make some kind of sense or logic at the end. When I’m writing fiction, my head is in one space. When it’s journalism, it’s in another.

Ruschelle: Rejection is definitely a pill we hate to open our mouths to swallow. Being a seasoned writer do those rejections get any easier? What do you suggest for authors starting out when they receive the dreaded- ‘It’s not you it’s us’ email?

Marc: First realize that rejection is a part of the process. I had a couple of short story submissions kicked back in the last week. You get the twinges the first couple of times but, if you’re intent on a long-term career, you immediately forget about it and send the story someplace else. If you’ve given your best effort, the chances are good your work will find a home.

Ruschelle: Exactly. Eventually writer’s stories find the home they’re meant to have. You’re a New York Times bestselling author. Kudos! Many authors aspire to have those little words swirl around their bios. So, tell us what has that prestigious phrase done for your career?

Marc: My ego was on fire for a few days. It is an emotional and psychological lift like you would not believe. I spent a month picking up The New York Times every Sunday just so I could chart the progress of my book. But eventually reality brings you back to earth. You’ve got deadlines to make, bills to pay, lawns to mow and a dog to walk. But making The New York Times bestseller list is definitely a memory that stays with you forever.

Ruschelle: Since you’re lucky enough to write for a living, you probably have some sort of schedule or ritual. What’s your typical work day like?

Marc: There really is no typical work day for me. It depends on whether I’m on deadline with a biography or at a more leisurely pace with a short story or a poem. But more often then not, I’m up fairly early in the morning, work for 3-4 hours, take a walk for about an hour, then back to work for another 4-5 hours. A good day for me is 1000 words on whatever I’m working on. I once had to write a 50,000 word manuscript in three weeks. Needless to say, I was pulling 15 hour days on that one.

Ruschelle: Is there any one piece of advice you’d like to impart to struggling writers out there who are attempting to embark on writing as a career?

Marc: Write every day. When you’re not writing, read anything you can lay your hands on. It’s cool to go to parties and tell people you’re a writer. But if you’re not serious about it, you’re doomed to fail. Go with your gut at all times. Treat writing as both a creative art and a business but be able to separate the two. You don’t want to be thinking about the business when you’re knee deep in the creative process. And vice versa. Writing for a living is a dream come true.  But you’d better take it seriously and be prepared to walk the walk.

Ruschelle: What can your new found fans look forward to from you in the future?

Marc: The future is now. You can get Stories Of High Strangeness (Copypasta Publishing) on Amazon, Smashwords, Roku, Kobo and Barnes & My latest celebrity biography Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story (Riverdale Avenue Books) is available through Amazon, Smashwords and a bunch of the usual book selling sites. I have poems in upcoming issues of Disturbed Digest and Night To Day. Then there’s something that I’m currently working on that I’m not at liberty to talk about. Yet.

Ruschelle: Thank you so much for your time and wisdom.

Marc: This was fun. Let’s do it again some time.

Marc Shapiro can be reached through Copypasta Publishing at [email protected]


Taking Submissions: Terra! Tara! Terror!

Deadline: July 15th, 2018
Payment: 6 cents per word

“Terra! Tara! Terror!”SF, Fantasy, Horror. Whether the setting is a cabin in the woods (Terra), Fae (Tara), or spaceship Nostromo (Terror), take us there and spin your adventure. For a bit of mood whiplash, we’d like a mixture of dark and bright stories. Examples: Obsession with odd artifacts (like Roadside Picnic’s golden sphere?), alternate histories, paranormal romance (no erotica, please, we’re PG-13). (Image: The initial letter of the fairy tale “Guleesh” created by John D. Batten for Joseph Jacob’s collection, Celtic Fairy Tales. 1892.

Reading Period: June 15 – July 15, 2018
Writer Deadline: July 15, 2018
Publication Date: September 20, 2018

Third Flatiron Publishing is based in Boulder, Colorado, and Ayr, Scotland. We are looking for submissions to our (approximately) quarterly themed anthologies. Our focus is on science fiction and fantasy and anthropological fiction. We want tightly plotted tales in out-of-the-ordinary scenarios. Light horror is acceptable, provided it fits the theme.

Please send us short stories that revolve around age-old questions and have something illuminating to tell us as human beings. Fantastical situations and creatures, exciting dialog, irony, mild horror, and wry humor are all welcome. Stories should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Inquire if longer.

Role models for the type of fiction we want include Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Ken Kesey. We want to showcase some of the best new shorts available today.

For each anthology, we will also accept  a few very short humor pieces on the order of the “Shouts and Murmurs” feature in The New Yorker Magazine (600 words or so). These can be written from a first-person perspective or can be mini-essays that tell people what they ought to do, how to do something better, or explain why something is like it is, humorously. An SF/Fantasy bent is preferred.

See the “Submissions” tab for preferred formats, etc.

Via: Third Flat Iron.

Taking Submissions: Test Patterns : Creature Features

Deadline: July 1st, 2018
Payment: $100

Test Patterns : Creature Features (a follow up to 2017’s Test Patterns)

Seeking: Original stories of 2500-7000 words (no reprints or poetry currently, thank you) and no bio / biblio info attached, please. Payment is $100 for an accepted story. Multiple subs are fine, but we will only select at most one story per author. We are currently estimating a need for about 25 stories for the book total, depending on length

The Theme: We’re looking for stories that involve monsters! Our loose theme is based on the SF/F TV programs of the late 50s/early 60s, (Twilight Zone, Outer Limits; but think of the vibe, not literal pastiche; i.e. twist endings, weird situational reveals, moral / allegorical messages told through a spec-fic lens) but we will consider any well-written speculative tale

The Details: File format should be MS Word compatible, exact file type and / or formatting doesn’t matter much to us, we will handle most of that on the back end to fit the aesthetics of the final book.

We are projecting our window to stay open June 1st through July 1st, but will make an announcement if we fill up before then, again, we are projecting about 25 stories for this volume

Submissions should be directed to our editor;
Duane Pesice at:


Use “creature features” as the subject line to help us keep them sorted and separated, please

We tried to cover all the details above, but any questions can be asked here or we’re always open for PM’s, thanks

Via: Test Patterns’ Facebook.

Ongoing Submissions: Tough

Payment: $25

Tough is a crime fiction journal publishing short stories and self-contained novel excerpts of between 1500 words and 7500 words, and occasional book reviews of 1500 words or fewer. We are particularly interested in stories with rural settings and stories that intersect with the weird or occult. To clarify: think H.P. Lovecraft modernized, without the racist baggage. Think Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Think Hellblazer. We are not interested in science fiction or fantasy, except for stories in which those elements accentuate or play a major role in a crime. We are a crime journal. Our book reviews will reflect these interests.

Tough publishes four or five times per month on Mondays, for which we pay a flat rate of $25 per story or book review–we don’t take reprints, poems, or essays–in exchange for first world serial rights to publish the submission on the website and as of 2018, in a periodically produced print issue, the first of which is due in July 2018. Payment comes via check mailed on publication or via Paypal by special arrangement. Query for details or to pitch reviews.

Queries and submissions should be formatted in .doc, .odt or .rtf and sent to [email protected] MOBI or PDF book review copies–our preferred methods–can be sent to the same address. Otherwise, review copies can be sent to:  Tough, 119 Bradstreet Avenue, Revere, MA 02151.

Via: Tough Crime.

‘Scouse Gothic’ Blog Tour – A brief history of Liverpool.

‘Scouse Gothic’ Blog Tour – A brief history of Liverpool.

By: Ian McKinney

Scouse Gothic is set in Liverpool. The city, and its distinct character, plays as much a part in the story as any of the other characters, and like them it appears one thing to the casual observer, but has its own dark secrets.

Liverpool is a large seaport in the North-West of England, which at the end of the nineteenth century was considered to be the second port of the British Empire. However its origins can be traced back to the granting of its Royal Charter by King John in 1207. (This is the evil King John of Robin Hood fame, although whether he was evil or just subject of bad PR is still being debated.) At this time it was a small port trading mainly with Ireland, there were no docks and the ships simply beached on the shore to unload their cargos. The growth of the port began in earnest with the construction of the first ‘wet’ dock in the world in 1715. It had room for a hundred ships and meant that much larger ships could now pass through the port. These larger ships could now trade with Africa, the Far East and the Americas. The first trade with America is recorded in 1648: cloth, coal and salt from Lancashire being traded for sugar and tobacco.

It was these trade links that would lead to Liverpool becoming the major slaving port in the world. It became the centre of what was known as the ‘Triangular trade’: produce from the factories of Lancashire traded for African slaves; then those slaves traded in the Americas for tobacco, sugar and cotton, which returned to the factories and consumers of Britain. Although few slaves ever made it to Liverpool, at one point Liverpool’s merchants controlled 80% of the UK, and 40% of the world’s slave trade. The city grew fat on the proceeds of slavery, but with the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies, a new trade took prominence, cotton. In fact, the cotton trade became so important that during the American Civil War, Liverpool merchants sided with the Confederate cause. And although public opinion supported the North, warships and weapons were secretly built in Liverpool and smuggled across the Atlantic in Confederate ‘blockade runners’.

In a bizarre twist of fate Liverpool is actually connected to the start of the American Civil War, and its ending. The first shots that began the conflict, when General Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter on the 12th April 1861, were fired from an artillery piece, called the ‘Galena Cannon’, which had been made in Liverpool. While the final shots were fired by the Confederate raider the CSS Shenandoah, its surrender in Liverpool on 6th November 1865 effectively ending any Confederate resistance.

During the 19th Century Liverpool was very much a global city, and on any given day more than 1500 sailing ships would crowd its docks. The ships and their cargos came from the four corners of the world, and the multiracial crews lived in its boarding houses and mixed freely in the teaming bars and brothels that surrounded the docks. Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick, visited here as a young seaman in 1834 and wrote of the experience in his book, Redburn, ‘… sailors love this Liverpool; and upon voyages to distant parts of the globe will be constantly dilating upon its charms and attractions, and extolling its virtues above all other seaports in the world’. It was a wild and violent city, but also for black or Asian crews a very equal city. There was no colour bar and many of these sailors settled in Liverpool and raised their families there. For example, Liverpool has a thriving Chinese community, the oldest in Western Europe (established 1834), with its own Chinese Arch (the largest outside of China).

However the largest cultural impact on Liverpool itself came not from the Americas, Africa or even the Far East, but from much closer to home, Ireland. In 1845 the disastrous Irish Potato Famine killed a million people and caused millions to leave Ireland. In the space of three years, two million Irish landed in Liverpool seeking passage to a new life, and many of the poorest could go no further. In the census of 1861 a third of the population of the city had been born in Ireland. Liverpool ceased to be an English city, but neither was it an Irish one. The mixing of these two cultures, together with the Scots, Welsh, African, Chinese and even Jews escaping Russian Pogroms, made it what it is today. In fact Carl Jung once called Liverpool, ‘The Pool of Life’, as he thought it represented the whole world in one place.

The inhabitants of Liverpool, whatever their creed or colour are officially called Liverpudlians, but more commonly referred to as ‘Scousers’. This nickname being derived from a local stew called, Scouse, which in turn gives its name to the local dialect. The accent is a distinctive mixture of English and Irish and will be familiar to anyone who remembers the Beatles.

Once I’d written the book, I needed a title, and as it deals with the undead inhabitants of the city, I decided to call it ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’. However, on second thoughts, a book about Vampires should really be a Gothic novel, and so that became the subtitle, and the book became: Scouse Gothic.

You can read our review of ‘Scouse Gothic’ right here!

Taking Submissions: Spooky Samhain 2018 Contest

Deadline: August 31st, 2018
Payment: Contributor’s copy and 1st place: 100 dollars plus contributor’s copy, 2nd place: 50 dollars plus contributor’s copy, 3rd place: 25 dollars plus contributor’s copy

OPQ Presents:

The 2018 Spooky Samhain Stories Contest

Do you have a scary story to share?  Fiction, fact, or otherwise, share your prose with us and you, too, can win up to $100* and get your story printed.  Enter your submission today!  Contest will be judged by a panel of three impartial judges, all of whom have a vested interest in the unknown.  Scare us, terrify us, and thrill us!


Contest Rules:

  • Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please only send us one story at a time and if your story is accepted elsewhere please email us and let us know ASAP.
  • Many will enter, few will win.
  • Entrants cannot be related, legally or otherwise, to OPQ staff
  • Entries must be emailed to [email protected] by August 31st, 2018 to qualify.
  • Entries must match one of the following three themes: ‘True Tales of Terror,’ ‘Spooky Semi-True Stories,’ or ‘Fantastic Frights’
  • No entry fee necessary!
  • Note: entries will be judged based on quality, thematic appropriateness, and writing chops.
  • Though we want to be scared, there are some things that are off-limits.  As with our normal morality policy, OPQ will automatically reject stories that involve pedophilia, excessive gore, violence for violence’s sake, and non-consensual sex.  As always, we would prefer stories that use religion and/or spirituality as an uplifting theme or a bridge towards a larger, thematic discussion, rather than being derogatory towards one specific religion.  That being said, we enjoy looking forward to what your twisted imaginations come up with!



Entries must follow one of the following themes:

‘True Tales of Terror’ are reserved for true experiences you’ve witnessed.  Ritual gone wrong?  Cryptid got a little up close and personal?  Alien attacks at night?  Send ’em in.  We wanna see every one of them, no matter how small.

Guideline: 1k-4k words.  Above or below this limit, within reason, is fine.  (Not to exceed 10k words)

‘Spooky Semi-True Stories’ are maybe tall tales, maybe not.  They’re more fantastic stories that the reader may not want to know are real or not.  Consider a well-crafted story about a shopping mall that may or may not have undergone a quarantine that the local news covered up.  The point here is that the reader questions whether the story could have happened or not.

Guideline: 3k-6k words. Above or below this limit, within reason, is fine.  (Not to exceed 10k words.)

‘Fantastic Frights’ are out and out fiction, the kind of stories there’s no way to fake.  We’re talking full-scale zombie apocalypse, axe-wielding clowns, and the works.

Guideline: 5k-10k words. Above or below this limit, within reason, is fine.  (Not to exceed 10k words.)

Note that we cannot take characters or fiction that is not 100% original, though loving homage is always appreciated and encouraged.


*Prize money is divvied up as follows:

1st place: 100 dollars plus contributor’s copy

2nd place: 50 dollars plus contributor’s copy

3rd place: 25 dollars plus contributor’s copy

All 7 runner-ups have the choice to have their pieces printed in our Samhain 2018 edition, and will receive a contributor’s copy as payment for their entry.


All payments will be delivered via Paypal, Venmo, or awarded in person.



Got it all down?  Go ahead and submit to us today!

Via: Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly.

Taking Submissions: Bad Jobs & Bullshit: Summer Jobs

Deadline: June 30th, 2018
Payment: Royalties

Two years ago, The Geeky Press released Bad Jobs & Bullshit: It’s Unlikely That We’ll Be Missed. We loved the experience (and the writing) so much that we decided to continue the series.

We’re pleased to announce a call seeking nonfiction and narrative essays, poetry, fiction, and short scripts for an anthology collection titled Bad Jobs & Bullshit: Summer Jobs.

As you can surmise, this collection is about the sometimes sweaty, sometimes sentimental, and always entertaining hours we’ve spent at the shittiest summer jobs imaginable. Whether it’s staffing third shift at a rural gas station or hunching under the soul-sucking fluorescent lights of a corporate desk farm, everyone has a story of that job. And the bullshit that went along with it.


  • Open Call: January 1 – June 30

General Submission Guidelines


  • Essays and Creative Nonfiction: Submit completed work no more than 5,000 words
  • Fiction + Short Stories: Submit completed work between 1,000 and 5,000 words
  • Scripts: no more than 15 pages
  • Poetry: Submit completed work; no more than 5 pages. You must submit each poem individually!
  • Photo Essay: No more than 5 black-and-white pictures and 100 words per picture


We publish fiction, nonfiction (creative nonfiction, essays), screenplays, scripts, black-and-white photography, and poetry. There are standards. We can’t articulate them.


Please keep yours brief, though we do like to hear from people who like the magazine. We’re not concerned about writing degrees or past publications, so don’t be daunted if you don’t have an MFA or much in the way of previously published work.


Please don’t use colors or weird fonts. (We strip both out before we start the design process.) Visual poetry is not accepted.


  • Must be a Word doc or docx, 2010 or newer
  • Easily readable 12 pt. font, no columns

Please follow one of these style guides for formatting. Any of these are acceptable formats. If you do not submit your script in one of these formats, we may ask you to resubmit.

Samuel French Play Formatting
Gordon State College Play Formatting
Story Sense Screenplay Formatting


Please include a 150-200 word bio with your submission. We will use that on our contributor page. What you send is what we will publish, unless it’s too long. Then you’re leaving your bio fate in our hands.


Nope. Nope.

What about simultaneous submissions? If you submit to other places, drop us a note. And then don’t be a jerk. Let us know as soon as you know.


Bad Jobs & Bullshit: Summer Jobs will be published using the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license, and each author will retain the rights to his or her work.


Contributing authors receive a direct and equal division of the royalties. If we publish ten contributors, each person receives ten percent of every sale. Payments are handled directly through Lulu.


The combination of all accepted work will be published as a paperback book and an eBook by The Geeky Press. Bad Jobs & Bullshit: Summer Jobs will be distributed at major retail outlets including Amazon Barnes & Noble, Apple, and all library catalogs through Lulu, an on-demand publishing clearinghouse.

Contributing authors will receive an equal division of the royalties. The book will be published using the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license, and each author will retain the rights to his or her work. Authors can remove their work from the book at any time because the book will be published using on-demand technology.

Via: The Geeky Press’s Submittable.

Ongoing Submissions: The Future Fire

Payment: $20 for each original story over 1000 words accepted, or $10 per flash piece (up to 1000 words)

The Future Fire welcomes submissions of speculative fiction with progressive, inclusive and socially aware disposition. We are particularly interested in feminist, queer, postcolonial and ecological themes, and we actively seek out submissions by under-represented voices, including but not limited to women, people of color, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and writers from outside the English-speaking world.

If you are thinking of submitting a piece of writing for consideration by The Future Fire, please read some recent issues to get a feel for the sorts of speculative fiction we are looking for. When submitting, read the following guidelines carefully:

  1. We are reasonably flexible with regard to format and length, but are extremely unlikely to publish any story over 10 000 words. (We have in the past occasionally taken longer stories, up to 20 000 words, to be serialised; this will probably be less likely in the future, and obviously would require a story to be of better than excellent quality and value. We must in any case have the whole story before we make any decision.)
  2. All submissions are read anonymously and judged on their merits and fit to TFF‘s goals. We actively encourage the submission of stories by women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, differently abled/neuroatypical, and other groups under-represented in genre fiction.
  3. Please send your story to the fiction editor ( [ ] ) as an attachment. We prefer .doc, .docx, .rtf or .odt files (query first for any other format). Please use a common, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman/Palatino and use no other formatting than italics. Do not include your name anywhere in the document. We read and make all decisions based upon anonymised submissions.
  4. Use the email subject line: TFF submission: Surname, ‘Title’ (word count). Give your prefered name or pen name/byline in full in the accompanying email. Please do not send us your full address or other contact details.
  5. No multiple submissions: please only submit one story at a time. No simultaneous submissions: please do not send work that is under consideration elsewhere. If you need to withdraw a story for whatever reason, please do so as early as possible.
  6. We prefer to publish original material. Previously published stories are not out of the question, but you must let us know if a story has appeared elsewhere when you submit. This includes stories posted to blogs, open access writing groups or other public fora, even if they are no longer available there. We are more likely to reprint a story if its previous appearance was in a venue not readily accessible to our main audience, either because of medium, date, genre, or other factors.
  7. A decision is usually made within one month but sometimes life gets in the way of efficiency, for which we apologise. Important: emails sometimes go astray, so please do query if you feel we are taking an unreasonable time to get back to you.
  8. The Future Fire is offering payment of $20 for each original story over 1000 words accepted, or $10 per flash piece (up to 1000 words) (to be paid via Paypal on publication).
  9. Upon acceptance of a story, we shall ask authors to agree to this electronic contract: “You [LEGAL NAME*] of [ADDRESS] grant us, The Future Fire, the non-exclusive right to publish your work [TITLE] by [PEN NAME BYLINE OR PSEUDONYM] on the pages of our website and in the downloadable e-book versions; all other rights to this work belong to you. We shall upon publication make payment of [$20/$10] ([twenty/ten] US dollars) by Paypal to the account [EMAIL ADDRESS]. If we have not published your story within one calendar year of this contract, all rights shall revert to you. You guarantee that this work is your own and that you have the right to grant us the use of it, and that the work contains nothing that breaks copyright or other laws. Any actions breaking such laws will be your sole responsibility. We will print a copyright notice in your name, but we will not register the work with any copyright office on your behalf. You may reprint or adapt the work anywhere in the world, but we would ask as a courtesy that you wait three months after publication and credit us for first appearance.” (*For the contract we shall need a legal name and mailing address, even if you wish your work to be published under a pseudonym. If for safety or other reasons you have a name you are commonly known by that can be used to identify you in official contexts, please feel free to give us this rather than a “dead” name or other sensitive information. We will in any case never ever share this information with anyone else.)

It is the intention of The Future Fire to keep an indefinite archive of stories published in HTML; if an author has a pressing (e.g. legal) need to have a story removed, however, we shall of course help them to comply. We may not be able to remove the story from the copy of the PDF issue that is deposited with national libraries, archived by the Internet Archive, and other places outside of our control (just as a paper periodical archived in a national library would remain available permanently).

Via: The Future Fire.

Taking Submissions: Dark Rainbow

Deadline: July 6th, 2018
Payment: Royalties

Dark Rainbow Vol. 1 is the first book of an LGBT dark erotica series edited by Andrew Robertson. The anthology will be released by award-winning New York publisher Riverdale Avenue Books.
Dark Rainbow will explore a wicked hunger within the LGBT sphere with exciting short stories that thrill the reader and all of their senses, but also send shivers down their spine. Send us the type of horrific treats that can only come with a queer protagonist, and tricks that have a lasting effect on the reader…a werebear who longs for more than a full moon can offer, a polyamorous necromancer, a witch who has plans for a different type of coven, a vampire who can’t let go of their favorite same-sex snack, a voodoo tale of zombies with a hunger for bisexual brains…
We are looking for stories that cover all sexualities and have an exciting, horrific edge.  Blood and guts should be served with a sexy side course. There are several authors confirmed, so we are looking to complete the anthology with some stimulating new voices.
We welcome anything in the horror-erotica realm but no incest, no underage sex, no dubious consent, and be careful with age play. Horror should be relevant to the plot. Splatterpunk and extreme gore won’t be considered for this anthology.
Payment is a pro rata share of epub and print royalties, a pdf and a print copy of the book. All authors will receive an acknowledgement and response within four weeks. Please inquire about reprints. Original, unpublished work is highly preferred.
All submissions should;
·         Be submitted as a Word doc
·         Be between 2500-8000 words
·         Be proofread
·         Follow the Shunn Manuscript format
·         Use Times New Roman 12 point and underline italics
·         Use ### or *** centred for scene breaks, with a blank line above and below
·         Include title, last name and page number in upper right hand corner using the ‘Header’ feature
Deadline is July 6, 2018 at midnight, the witching hour…

Send submissions to: [email protected]

Via: Riverdale Ave. Books.

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