Deadline: October 1st, 2020
Payment: $25 and a contributor’s copy
Theme: Horror which takes place in Kentucky
Deadline: October 1st, 2020
Payment: $25 and a contributor’s copy
Theme: Horror which takes place in Kentucky
Deadline: August 31st, 2020
Payment: $0.03 per word, minimum of $30.00 dollars for short stories. $30 per poem
Note: This call doesn’t officially open until the 15th but is going live early due to the short submission window
Apparition Lit is open for poetry and short story submissions four times a year.
Submissions received outside of posted open dates will be deleted unread.
Our themes for 2020 will be:
Our previous themes for 2019: Resistance (Published January 2019) – Ambition (Published April 2019) – Retribution (Published July 2019) – Euphoria (Published October 2019) for 2018: Apparition (Published January 2018) – Delusion (Published April 2018) – Vision (Published July 2018) – Diversion (Published October 2018)
Apparition Lit also holds monthly flash fiction contests. These stories are published online only. We accept submissions for the flash fiction contest between the 1st and 15th of each month. Stories must be under 1k words and based on the theme for that month. You can see each month’s theme, and guidelines, in the flash fiction drop down below.
For detailed submission guidelines, please see each category drop down below.
Apparition is a semi-pro rate magazine, paying $0.03 per word, minimum of $30.00 dollars for short stories (excluding flash contest. See details in the Flash Fiction dropdown for flash rates) and a flat fee of $30 per poem. 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.
Plain or Just Plain Crazy
Recently I was asked a question in a podcast interview for Quill and Ink. The question was this. What is the difference between a regular thriller and a psychological thriller? My answer was simple, the difference is the twist that authors like myself love to add to their stories. The crazy and chaotic that ups the creep factor tenfold. The long walk down a dark hall that leaves the reader flipping pages back to see if that is indeed what they just read.
But let us take a step back for a moment. The actual definition of psychological thriller is this: A novel in the thriller genre which focuses on the psychology of its characters, or which psychologically manipulates its audience or readership. The thriller and all its subgenre’s elicit heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, and anxiety in readers. This is what draws us back again and again. Add a sprinkle of insanity to the mix and bam- there you have the psychological thriller.
And there is where you find those of us that live in the darkness that is writing these books. We look like your normal, everyday happy go lucky person. But in secret we lie feeding on the readers anxiety and sleepless nights as they struggle to get to the end of the story the same way Dracula fed on poor Lucy. If we don’t mess with the characters, we will reach out from between the pages of the book and get you, the reader, and mess with your head. And quite honestly, we love it. It’s what we live for.
That brings me to the actual writing of it. The ins and outs of creating the mentally disturbed, or the hints of it, in the characters. And quite honestly, in all my years of law enforcement and the training, in the 911 calls and the actually disturbed people that I talked with, I realize one thing. There is no wrong way. You can’t put crazy in a box. It isn’t limited to rules, as is a normal disorder of the heart, for example. The mind is boundless, we have not yet begun to fathom what it is capable of. So why then would anyone dare to think that they understand what is right and wrong with writing about the disorders of the mind? I think that in our wildest dreams we can’t begin to understand it, and therefor it’s limited only by what modern medicine tells us is fact and the limits of the imagination. And imagine we will.
Speaking for myself, when I dive into writing a book that I know will have a mental twist, I have been known to do the research. Find the illness, define it, research it, and create a world around it. Of course, there is also the darkness, likened to the Nothing in my favorite childhood movie, The NeverEnding Story, that will reach out and envelope my reader as they turn page after page. In these type of stories I don’t label the twist, I just go with it. I used to suppress it, but I am long past that now. People that actually know me and have taken the time to read one of my dark thrillers look at me with new eyes. Do I need to be a little bit insane to write a psychological thriller? Who knows. If I do, I think I’m okay with it.
A STUNNING NEW BOOK IN THE DEADLY SINS SERIES
By International Best-selling Author, Rachael Tamayo
Set for release this July and published by Tangled Tree Publishing!
The book will be available worldwide, in digital and print, across all platforms!
A serial killer on the loose, driven by darkness and obsession. A woman determined to not go down without a fight and refuses to be a victim. International bestselling author Rachael Tamayo is back with a highly anticipated Deadly Sins novel. With twists and turns to keep readers gripped, fans of Teresa Driscoll and Rachel Caine will be hooked in this unforgettable thriller.
“A well-written thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the end!” – InD’Tale Magazine
“Intense, original, and detailed thriller.” – Power of Three Readers
Award-winning best-selling author Rachael Tamayo spent twelve years in law enforcement as a 911 operator and police dispatcher. The Multi-genre author has abandoned romance for the darkness that is the psychological thriller, creating twists, turns, and fast paced fiction in her wake. In her spare tim,e she is an editor of fiction, and enjoys reading and spending time at her home in Houston, Texas with her husband of sixteen years and their two children. You can contact her or find out more about her work at www.RachaelTamayoWrites.com
Time is ticking by and the news keeps reporting about schools opening in a few weeks. That will probably be the case but it is serving as an unwelcome reminder my holiday is beginning to pass quite quickly – so I’d wish they’d keep quiet!!
Much of my writing lately has been focussing on building up my next poetry collection and I’ve a fair number now but I am getting twitchy and really missing not working on something novel length. It didn’t help that as I researched my family in the Victorian East End, I felt the tug back to the world I created in Asylum of Shadows. Reading Poor Law records for my family, knowing they were in and out of the Workhouse, sometimes dying there, started me thinking. It also gave me an extra source to use for research purposes and I would recommend a subscription to ancestry.co.uk (or .com), not just to track down family but to research from primary sources to give your work an extra authenticity. And I am also desperate to get back to writing about my unholy trinity of Tommy, Betty and Fiddler from the Five Turns of the Wheel novel. I feel haunted. Do the characters you create haunt you?
A quick reminder here that the Infernal Clock Inferno callout for LGBTQ+ submissions is still ongoing. It closes 15th August, so please get your stories in, there are several slots available! Details here https://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-infernal-clock-dantes-inferno/. The only change I would throw in to this, is that we have plenty of Circle Eight stories now, so it would be a good idea to avoid that particular bit of Hell.
TWF Contributor Promotion Time!
This week has seen a few releases. First up is someone who has always proved entertaining – and master of the occasional gross-out – Justin Boote with his new collection, Fear is Forever. He’d like to give a shout-out to the Red Cape Publishing team and Peter for doing the cover and formatting. Grab a copy here.
I’ve combined forces with TWF writer Alyson Faye and we’ve put four of our gothic stories together in Shadow Bound, A Gothic Quartet. It’s out on kindle and will be available as a paperback in the near future. This little venture is very much for people to grab a taster of our work and so we’ve kept prices as low as we can. It’s available here: http://mybook.to/ShadowBound.
Note: I used Booklinker for the first time to create the buy link for Shadow Bound. What I didn’t realise is that it shows you how many have clicked on your book. That has now become a new obsession 😊
Plus the boss has been busy and you will find Stuart Conover inhabiting the pages of this little lovely, The Dark Frontier with his story, “The Hard Cases”. Western horror is definitely on the up tick. You can snag a copy here.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned Mark Anthony Smith’s latest collection, Keep it Inside and Other Weird Tales because it’s not due out until October; however, just in case I forget, I’ll mention it now! For more information go here. (And if I’ve already mentioned it, this is a bonus!)
Very Short Story Time! Remember this is very much a ‘just for fun’ section.
Evidence by Steven Holding
Monsters exist. He’s sure of this. The things he’s thinking of are proof enough.
Trembling with Fear this week, leads with Visitation by a. stump. Reading this story, its details of setting and build-up of atmosphere put me very much in mind of those small-town scenes featuring youngsters, so beloved of a certain Mr King. It felt very cinematic in quality and I could just see it being shown on the screen, a perfect little film to be viewed via the page.
Compulsion by Mike Rader takes you to church and gives you his blessing. Every step is one you are drawn to take with the character, a perfect pacing.
Sardines Sarnie by Steven Holding. Firstly, ugh I can’t stand sardines and a sandwich – even more gross but fear not this is sardines of another kind. Nice settling of dread over this child when realisation dawns.
The Spirit of the Harvest by Patrick Winters is a rural delight and anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for a touch of folk horror. The countryside brings its own sense of ‘other worldliness’ and is a place I feel has the greater capacity to touch the soul and pull it on – for good or evil.
Enjoy the stories and send us yours!
We’re pretty much ready to order proof copies. There are a couple of MINOR adjustments left but honestly, everything is good to go aside from that. HURRAY!
On top of that, our Instagram followers should have noticed an uptick in new content. I’d like to send a warm welcome to Lucinda who is doing a fantastic job so far and likely we’ll see one other person joining too in order to help out! (THANK YOU!) Our YouTube still needs some help but, this is major progress that I’m thrilled about!
Thank you all, each and every one of you! I hope you enjoy today’s fiction and if you’re digging anything in particular please do leave a comment!
Six Tips on Writing True Paranormal Experiences
by A.E. Santana
For those of us that have had a supernatural or strange experience, there may be conflicting emotions of wanting to tell someone versus keeping it to yourself. Sharing your story can be cathartic, and many people have written their supernatural experiences to the awe and fascination of readers who enjoy the paranormal.
But explaining a supernatural occurrence is more than just swearing that the doll moved on its own. You’ll need to craft your account as a story with a beginning, middle, and end, so your audience can follow along and be captivated. If these events truly took place, the best way to approach the project is like a memoir, which includes creative craft. To that end, here are six tips on writing true paranormal experiences.
A classic memoir technique, staying focused on one event, moment in time, etc. is essential in keeping your audience engaged. Avoid writing your life story. Even if the paranormal event spanned a large portion of your life, the story should focus on the supernatural and not anything that doesn’t lend itself to the occurrence. This story should have an end, whether the ending is learning to live with the strange hauntings, selling away the creepy doll in a garage sale, or wondering if you’ll ever find out what really happened—end it.
Grounding your readers in place is crucial to any storytelling but is particularly important when writing true paranormal accounts. Not only do you want to set the place, but it’s also a good idea to set a status quo. What was it like before things started to get weird? Grounding your readers with a well-written setting is helpful in establishing the authenticity of the piece. The more detailed setting you have, the more you will be able to put your audience in that space with you. People always laugh at the haunted house…before they go inside.
Scary stories are big on atmosphere. Although some paranormal stories may have funny or silly moments incorporated, overall—for spookiest effect—the tone should be serious and the mood eerie. Your story should teem with a strange, weird, and frightening atmosphere without being so dramatic that the events come off as laughable, disruptive, or confusing. There is a fine line between campy and spooky. Reading your story aloud can help you figure out where your writing is landing. An effective account is strange but believable.
One of the most common poorly worded advice to writers is “show don’t tell.” Better advice would be “mostly show but tell sometimes.” This is especially true when writing supernatural encounters. So, when do you tell and when do you show? Tell us what happened. Use detailed facts when describing the actual supernatural event. No need to get metaphorical or fancy with your words here. Be straight and to the point. These sections of you story should not be confusing. Show us how you felt. While your facts should never be confusing, it’s okay if you were confused. Not all your readers may have had supernatural experiences, but we have all felt fear, anger, loneliness, sadness, etc. That’s why it’s important to have the human element. Perhaps the reader will never believe in what scared you, but if you can get them to believe that you were scared—that’s a win.
You know them: touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight. The four above elements can’t work without these senses and the more you use them, the more authentic and engaging your piece will be. The senses are especially helpful when depicting a place, setting the mood, telling your reader what happened, or showing the audience how you felt. So, describe the cold spot you walked into, the bizarre noises you heard at night, the shadow you saw creeping along the hallway, the gross smell that won’t leave the backroom, or that weird taste you get whenever you visit your hometown cemetery.
Author Steve Almond advises in his book of essays, This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, to “slow down where it hurts.” When there is a big emotional moment, slow down and write it out. When writing true paranormal experiences, run with that advice and apply it to the creepy parts of your account. Don’t just say how the doll’s head moved on its own. Slow down and describe it. Use all five senses. Were there any sounds, perhaps porcelain scraping against porcelain as the doll moved its neck? Or did you see the soulless blue aggie eyes blink at you? Remember tip four and don’t get too fancy. Tell us what happened, just slow down when you do it.
A.E. Santana is a Southern California native who grew up in a farming community surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. A lover of horror and fantasy, her works can be found in Demonic Carnival III, Weird Ales Vol. II, and other horror anthologies. She is the paranormal/true horror editor for Kelp Journal and was the drama editor for The Coachella Review. A.E. Santana is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a founding playwright for East Valley Repertory Theatre in Indio, CA. She has been a moderator for several horror panels, including No Longer the Scream Queen: Women’s Roles in Horror. She received her MFA in fiction from the University California, Riverside Low Residency program. Her perfect day consists of a cup of black tea and her cat Flynn Kermit. www.aesantana.com @foxflur
Deadline: October 1st, 2020
Payment: $0.01 / word and potential royalties
Theme: Short fiction that veers into the numinous, the esoteric, the supernatural, and the weird
UNDERLAND ARCANA is published four times a year, and is looking for previously unpublished short fiction that veers into the numinous, the esoteric, the supernatural, and the weird. We like these stories to be mildly speculative, fantastic, mysterious, and/or horrific (if you prefer genre tags). We’re not terribly keen on stories that splash through gore, but we don’t mind the grotesque. We prefer character-driven pieces, but will pause and admire works that are exceptionally experimental in tone, style, and presentation.
We are actively interested in submissions from writers of underrepresented communities, including, but in no way limited to, writers of any gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability. We believe in the rich potential and diversity of humanity, and seek to have that belief reflected in the stories published in the ARCANA.
In more concrete terms: stories should be under 5k in length, but special consideration will be given to longer pieces should the writing demand such attention. Please query before sending anything novella length. Submissions should be in .doc or .rtf formation. Stories must be compatible to both an online presentation and a print publication.
Please submit your stories to [email protected], along with a brief cover letter that hits the highlights of your recent publishing adventures.
READING PERIOD: In parallel with our publication schedule, we will only be considering submissions during one of our open reading periods. The current reading period closes on October 1st, 2020. The next reading period is scheduled to open early in 2021.
PAYMENT: Underland Arcana is paying $0.01 / word—up to 5,000 words—for publication on the website. Additional publication in other formats (ebook and collected print editions, for example) will be under a shared royalty basis.
Via: Underland Arcana.
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
I wake and find myself on a trolley being wheeled quickly down a corridor. I’m pushed into a hospital ward, with nurses fussing around. They insert various tubes into me and attach wires to my skin. They do not speak to me, even though I am conscious. I realize I’m seriously ill; if I wasn’t, they wouldn’t fuss so much. I glance round the room. I see an unnatural darkness in the corner and a cowled figure watching me. I recognize him and know he is waiting for me. I realize with a sense of sadness the treatment won’t work.
I wake to find I’m floating. I feel freer than I ever have before, but I know this isn’t real. My body lies below me on a hospital bed, wired up and connected to machines to keep my blood flowing and my lungs moving. My body is dead, kept alive by artificial means, but my mind is still aware. I know I’m in transition, waiting for him to come and collect me, so I can move onto whatever is next. It might be something, it might be nothing, but in the meantime I float and watch my still form below.
I wake to a world of shadows. I find myself surrounded by wraiths, all drifting in the same direction. I find myself unwillingly following them. I know that Death came for me and freed me; now I have to continue on the final journey on my own. I arrive at the first recognizable feature, a river. I see small row boats, arriving and departing. My fellow wraiths mill around uncertainly on the bank and I understand. To cross is to leave the mortal realm forever, to stay is to remain as an unsettled spirit. I have to choose. I go.
R.J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
“FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN.”
I didn’t write that. I saw it on Disney+, in fact, on a show called “The Imagineering Story.” It’s a documentary about how Walt Disney and his employees designed the Disney parks, including the thrill rides. “FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN” was their approach to creating many of the rides, including roller coasters like Space Mountain.
My name is Michael Clark, and I subscribe to that theory. I love a good ghost story as long as it’s not gratuitously morbid–I want to feel the hair rise on the back of my neck. Do horror stories scare you away? I don’t want to do that. I want to give you a thrill like the adrenalin rush of a good roller coaster—don’t worry, when it’s over, you’ll be safe and sound.
I like eerie, and I like chilling. I love ghosts as opposed to monsters or demons. Do bad things happen in my books? Sure, but no more than you might read in a crime novel, and it’s never for the sake of vulgarity. Did you like the movie The Sixth Sense, or maybe Silence of the Lambs? That’s what I’m going for—a top-notch thriller that could stand with these great stories. Did I achieve my goal? That’s for you to decide. Just know that you’re not getting a slasher or teen horror, you’re getting psychological horror wrapped into a ghost story-mystery with a twist or two. Thanks for your time!
The Patience of a Deadman
Publication Date: April 15, 2019
Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more “chilling than gory”.
He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.
Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?
Available on Amazon!
The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her.
It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar.
The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest.
He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done.
The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough.
Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion. He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go?
He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here– a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch.
The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that.
As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring.
Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in.
As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right.
There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first–but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription.
Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance.
She stood there in the dark–the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions.
And there was a smell.
There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.
Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.
The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.