Stacey – Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?
Kevin – I’m originally from a small island off the south-east coast of England called Sheppey. It’s full of history and has many places to go explore when you’re a kid. It’s a place I’ve based my third novel on, Coulrophobia, mainly because the setting is so interesting. There’s a lot of influence in my other novels from that island, particularly in Monsters Mostly Come out at Night. There’s a place called the Wastelands in the novel that is based on a place I used to play. I moved from the island around 2000, but still visit. I now live in Medway which is also, in Kent. In my full-time job, I’m a police officer in the Met and have been for over 14 years.
Stacey – When did you start writing?
Kevin – From around the age of eight. I remember trying to write my own adventure games in Basic on computers and it was creating the story and writing the descriptions that really interested me. I then started writing a few stories based on computer games, then I first realised I might be good at writing when my English teacher read something I’d written out to the class because she was so impressed. I think that got me really thinking about writing and from there I started writing my own stories.
Stacey – If you could meet any author living or dead, who would it be?
Kevin – I would love to meet Stephen King; his book On Writing is a fantastic guide to novel writing. I highly recommend it. I would also love to meet James Herbert, though he’s sadly dead now. He wrote some really great horror novels in the 80’s, his most famous being the Rats. I’d ask them both everything I could about how they write, where they get their ideas and what keeps them going. I often have this fantasy of meeting Tolkien and sitting down to watch the Lord of the Rings with him and ask what he thinks. When he wrote his epic, I don’t think he’d ever imagined it possible they could film it.
Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?
Kevin – Sometimes I have a dream that translates well into a story. But most of the time an idea will pop into my head and I get this massive creative surge. If I’m out of ideas, then I’ll go take the dog for a walk. I find a lot of my stories features woods, probably because I like to walk in them with the dog.
Stacey – What’s your writing process like? Do you write during the day or at night?
Kevin – I write a lot at night, into the early hours. There’s less distractions then. But as I’m a shift worker, I often write at work in down time, sometimes even on the train commuting to work.
Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?
Kevin – I like to listen to music when I write, but I can write without it. I’ve learnt how to switch off from background chatter and the TV on in the background, so I tend to be flexible. If I listen to music, it’s generally soundtrack music so it sets a certain mood.
Stacey – Have you always written horror?
Kevin – I used to write a lot of Science Fiction, then I went through a Fantasy stage, but I’ve been drawn to Horror for a few years now. I’m beginning to move more towards thrillers, but I find Horror seeps into that genre easily.
Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?
Kevin – I really like Jessica from my novel Father’s Song, which is the first novel I wrote. I love how she’s struggling with her addictions and ghosts from her past. It makes her very vulnerable, but strong as she fights against them. She doesn’t easily trust people, tries to act like she’s tough, but deep down she’s really scared. It makes her interesting.
Stacey – Are you afraid of clowns? Most people I speak to are, to some degree.
Kevin – I’m not scared of clowns, but I certainly think there’s something creepy about them. I always think the painted smiles are trying to hide something. I think most things meant for children are creepy: clowns, Punch and Judy, nursery rhymes…. All subjects I’ve written about!
Stacey – Have you seen the latest movie version of IT by Stephen King? What did you think of it?
Kevin – Loved the casting of Pennywise. A hard act to follow after Tim Curry’s iconic version. I thought the cast of the kids were great, but I wasn’t keen on some of the new directions they took, particularly towards the end. I kept thinking “that’s not supposed to happen” and I couldn’t help think the 90’s tv series was better in many areas. That series just fell down on the second part with the adults. I hope the next film does better.
Stacey – Why do you think horror and children’s nursery rhymes go together so well?
Kevin – Most nursery rhymes have sinister meanings behind them. The most famous being Ring a Ring ‘o Roses, which everyone knows is about the black death. Kids sing it without much thought to the real meaning. Then Goosey Goosey Gander is about the killing of Catholics, Oranges and Lemons about executions… There’s lots of dark meanings. I think they go well with horror because it’s darkness hiding within a child’s song. Which is what Father’s Song is about. But what’s creeper than a little child singing a nursery rhyme in a chilling tone? One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…
Stacey – Favourite movie or tv show? (Doesn’t have to be Horror)
Kevin – My favourite show is Twin Peaks. I’m a massive fan of it. Loved the new series that just finished, set 25 years after the end of the last series. I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since I was very young. I remember watching Tom Baker at the age of five. Modern shows, I’ll watch Game of Thrones, Walking Dead…. Movies… there’s so many, but I love Highlander, Bladerunner, Star Wars, Kubrick’s the Shining, The Exorcist… I could list so many!
Stacey – Was it exciting being selected as runner up in the Writers Online Competition?
Kevin – It came just in time to keep me going because I was close to giving up ever being published. It gave me a good push to go on. I’ve been shortlisted a couple of more times in Writing Magazine, which also gives me a boost. I mainly write because… I have to. But a little recognition is really nice.
Stacey – Your fourth novel is being edited now, isn’t it? Can you tell us a little about it? Do you have a release date yet?
Kevin – It’s got a working title of The Crow and is more of a paranormal thriller than a straight horror. It’s about a young couple, Rick and Neve, who move to an area famous for UFO sightings. After a series of incidents where they are being stalked, Neve is found dead in the woods, murdered. A year later, after the funeral, Neve returns with no memory of what happened. But Rick’s moved on after grieving and finds it hard to accept this is Neve after he identified her body himself. And their stalker now returns, writing threatening letters and smashing windows. By the end of the novel, Rick doesn’t know who to trust and wonders if it’s just one big alien conspiracy. I’m hoping to publish by March.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Kevin – A silver light appeared above the trees, hovering in the dark, pulsing as though in time to his heartbeat. For a second, he thought he was dreaming, but he felt the cool grass under his feet, the wind in his face. He stopped, stared at the light as it shot up high into the sky and vanished. More lights appeared above the trees, circling around each other as though dancing. The wind picked up as the lights grew closer towards him, growing brighter until he had to look away. Then the dark returned and he shivered. In the distance he heard the rumble of thunder across the Kent countryside. Clouds had gathered in, cold rain falling. A quick flash and then a rumble. The storm was coming.
“Neve!” he shouted, running as fast as he could. As he plunged into the trees, lightning illuminated his way for a split second. The rain hammered down on him as though he was walking through a waterfall and the thunder and lightning raged on. When he couldn’t run further, he slumped down against a tree, the thick branches giving a little shelter from the rain. What if whoever had been watching, sending notes and breaking into the house had kidnapped her? That sick person who had ripped a rabbit in two and left it outside their caravan could’ve been hiding in the shadows all night, waiting for a chance to get to Neve. Now he’d run blindly into the woods. What if that’s where they wanted him?
They never found the murderer, Rick. Some people think he fled into the woods and is hiding out there to this day.
Jumping up, he stumbled in what he hoped was the way out. The woods disorientated him, the rain blinding him. Now he fell into a rage, angry at himself for being so stupid. The lights had just been there to distract him, lure him away. Aliens had abducted her, like they had with Jenny. Lightning flashed, followed by a bang. A scream rose above the thunder, silenced with abruptness. The rain roared around him, falling so hard it hurt his skin. He wasn’t sure how long he continued on, running until his lungs burned, then walking until he found his breath again. As his morale hit the lowest point, the rain stopped as sudden as it had started. He shivered, cursing to himself that he’d not bothered with a top. When he couldn’t go on, he sat down on a fallen tree and gazed around at the dark, listening to nocturnal woodland noises. They said if you saw someone drowning, the worse thing to do was to jump in after them because it would put you in danger too, a victim to the strong currents that had got the person you were trying to save into trouble. The currents had got him, pulled him deeper and he couldn’t swim back out again. Gasping, struggling for air, he was desperate to be in the open. The trees moved in on him, uprooting themselves to hinder his progress. They got into his head, made him feel watched, hunted. He staggered on, branches scratching his face. At some point the sky became that dark blue just before sunrise. It was as though his mind had shut down for a couple of hours as he walked and now he’d returned. Lights grew in intensity before him. They’d come for him and he didn’t have the energy to escape.
Thank you so much for your time Kevin! If you would like to find out more about Kevin and his writing endeavours, check out the links below.
Deadline: March 1st, 2018
Payment: $50 and a contributor’s copy
Calling all authors—we’ve got a new collection of short horror in the works, and we want you! See below for details.
Deadline: March 1, 2018 Length: 5,000 to 8,000 words Payment: $50 plus contributor’s copy
We are interested in short horror fiction about people who sneak into abandoned, forgotten, shunned, or cursed communities and survive to tell the tale. For example: Centralia, Pennsylvania—the mining town abandoned because of an uncontrollable underground coal fire; Love Canal—the New York neighborhood declared off-limits due to extreme environmental pollution; and Pripyat—the Ukrainian city evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster. The emphasis is on communities—a haunted house or other such localized place is not large enough to qualify.
The place in your story must not ever have existed in the real world (i.e., no stories about the vanished Roanoke Colony), but must be described as a place that could plausibly exist. For instance: Stephen King’s fictional town of Derry.
Your story must be set in the present, told in first person after the fact, from the point of view of someone who visited that place and returned to tell the tale. Supernatural elements are permitted, but not required.
Your story’s title must be the name of the place that is the subject of your story and the larger region in which it is located; for instance, “Derry, Maine.”
The horror of your story should lie in the characters discovering the long-lost reasons why that community was abandoned in the first place.
Deadline: February 15th, 2018
Payment: $25 for digital rights with an option or another $25 for physical
Note: As always when posting erotica calls this is only because of the darker nature of the call.
Details: Murder. Revenge. Madness. These are the hallmarks of Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction. But so are love, longing, and loss. It may seem strange, at first blush, to compile a collection of erotica inspired by Poe’s work. Much of his writing explores themes of death and isolation. But gothic fiction has long been ripe ground for examining human sexuality and Poe’s work in particular is overdue for just such an agitation.
Send me stories that flip the narrative. Give the outsiders a voice. Think outside the box. I don’t want simple rewrites of his work with sex thrown in. Make it crucial to the tale.
While best known for his horror fiction, Poe was also a pioneer in the science fiction and detective fiction genres. I am looking for stories in any genre so long as the influence is Poe’s work. They do not need to be set during the time period he was alive in. Send me futuristic Poe stories. Send me Poe stories that are inclusive and exist outside of the standard narratives. And of course, send me stories that are hot and exciting too.
All gender pairings are welcome so long as the sex is between consenting adults. And to be absolutely clear, the consent must take place BEFORE the sexual act.
Length: Our preferred length is approximately 3,000 to 7,000 words, but we will consider the range from 2,000 to 8,000 words.
Standard manuscript formatting rules apply. Send manuscript as an attachment (MS Word .doc or .rtf preferred). Please note that this means your name, address, and email contact must appear on the manuscript itself and not simply in your email message.
No simultaneous submissions (that is, don’t also send your story elsewhere at the same time, and don’t send it to multiple Circlet editors, either), and no multiple submissions to the same book. One story per author, per anthology.
All stories must include explicit sexuality and erotic focus. Romantic content is welcome, but in a short story remember to keep the details on the action and its effects on the main character’s internal point of view. We favor a strong, singular narrative voice (no “head hopping” or swapping between different character’s points of view within a scene). For more details on our editorial preferences, see the general submission guidelines on circlet.com. We highly recommend reading the guidelines, especially the “do not send” list, to increase your chances of sending us something we’ll love. Try to avoid cliches. Fresh and direct language is preferred to overly euphemistic. Sex-positive, please. No rape/nonconsensuality/necrophilia.
Originals only, no reprints. We purchase first rights for inclusion in the ebook anthology for $25, with the additional rights to a print edition later which would also be paid $25 if a print edition happens. Authors retain the rights to the individual stories; Circlet exercises rights to the anthology as a whole.
This anthology (working title “Miner Detours in Reality”) will present a miner’s dozen or more fresh stories that showcases regional locations and talent. PGWI is focused on family-friendly writing that entertains, excites and entices the readers to want more.
Open call for submission:
DATES: Submit between 9/1/17 – 12/15/17 ►►► Extended to 1/30/18
Deadline: March 15th, 2018
Payment: Stories under 1,500 words are 4% of gross profit, Above that is 5%
Anthology curated by Nicole Petit
It seems like everything’s finally settled down, fifty years into the twentieth century. War is over. The economy’s booming. People are on a long exodus from the city. It’s all settling.
But the occult lurks everywhere…
In sleepovers, as teenagers intone, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.” Or stare into the mirror, calling upon Mary. They scream, convinced something looks back from inside the glass.
New music dominates the airwaves, discordant and wild. They say it’s the devil’s music.
Strange lights dominate the sky. Are they Russians? Little Green Men? Or something altogether stranger?
Perhaps things are not as settled as they feel…
What We Want
THE BASICS: Supernatural stories set in the 1950s. Not horror stories, necessarily, but stories that use the 1950s and its spook culture (and spook-busting culture) in an engaging way. Bring us supernatural adventures, supernatural mysteries, supernatural fantasy, or supernatural pulp.
First and foremost, aim to capture the spirit of the era. That’s something we felt Speakeasies and Spiritualists succeeded with, in regards to the 1920s.
THE SOCKHOPS: Historical accuracy is required. This extends beyond technology to attitudes, beliefs, and so on. See below for a full discussion of historical accuracy.
We are open to stories starring (or featuring) historical figures.
THE SÈANCES: Creative, fresh supernatural elements are preferred. Think more The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, and less Godzilla or The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
While we’re not closed to submissions featuring traditional occult threats such as vampires, werewolves, etc., stories featuring these monsters will be a hard sell. Only the most outstanding stories will catch our eye.
If you chose to use a monster—or someone pretending to be a monster—we’d prefer something wild. Think of The Blob, or the pod people, albeit occult in nature. The threat must be occult—or preternatural—in nature. This extends to stories taking advantage of the UFO craze.
You want genres other than horror? Yes. While we will happily accept horror, and our collection would be remiss without horror, we’re also looking for a wide-range of genres. Mystery, fantasy, pulp, adventure. Science fiction and Romance are harder sells, but we’ve been surprised by submissions in styles we’d never have thought to expect. When it doubt, submit.
We’re looking for supernatural fantasy stories, supernatural mystery stories, supernatural pulp stories, supernatural adventure stories, supernatural horror stories and any other kind of story so long as they make use of the 1950s milieu.
Should my ghosts be real, or fake? I have no preference. Focus on telling a good story, whether your spooks are ectoplasm or petroleum jelly.
I am seeking a mix, however. You’re more likely to be accepted with a fake ghost, simply because of how few fake-ghost stories I receive.
May I set stories anywhere in the world? Yes, we welcome stories set outside of the United States.
May I use the Cthulhu Mythos? Yes, but I strongly encourage, and prefer, fresh takes. Show us something new. The more it feels like a copy/paste of Lovecraft, the less interested I’ll be. Jon Black’s stories are an excellent examples of how to do this.
Do you take reprints? Yes. Just let us know in the submission (this will not count against you).
TEENAGE COUPLES WITHOUT SHOES DANCING AT CARLSBAD HIGH SCHOOL “SOCK HOP.”
“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (The Twilight Zone)
The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits in general
Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (Meets the Hot Rod Gang) (1959)
The Haunting of Hill House (by Shirley Jackson)
Night of the Demon (1957)
The Bowery Boys: Ghost Chasers (1951)
Conjure Wife (by Fritz Leiber)
We also strongly recommend picking up a copy of Speakeasies and Spiritualists. This collection is a spiritual sequel. Reading it is the best way to get into the editor’s mind. Available, here, in ebook and as a paperback on Amazon.
What We Don’t Want
That’s the big one. Nothing will make us pass on a story faster than historical inaccuracy. We’re willing to work with authors on such things as culture, clothing, food, and general language. The background history of a story is easiest to fix, and we love talking about it.
But inaccurate attitudes is a sort of historical inaccuracy that will make us immediately pass on a story. This leaves stories unfixable.
Bigotry is not the default of history. While you are welcome to explore such things, keep in mind, this should be treated meaningfully rather than as extraneous, exploitative, or a given. Presenting all—or the majority of—your characters as racist, sexist, or the like is one of the fastest ways to the reject pile. We’re far more interested in nuanced portrayals of people than stock types.
People in the 1950s held a huge variety of opinions. Reflecting this, instead of repeating the same stock figures, massively increases your chance of acceptance.
Historical Events to Use Cautiously
The “Red Scare” as a theme. It’s massively over-represented in stories about the 1950s. The majority of stories about it commit cardinal sins: a lack of historical knowledge; a lack of depth; simply repeating what previous stories did.
We will judge stories about the “Red Scare” harshly. You need to be at least as good as “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (our gold standard) to merit consideration.
If you choose to use this theme, pitching is highly recommended.
HUAC and the historical “Red Scare.” It’s over-represented in stories about the 1950s, and rarely treated well. If you have a great idea involving this, treating it with depth and historical accuracy, feel free to pitch. Keep in mind it will be a hardsell. We prefer to see the themes of the “Red Scare” used as a general theme; see above for the relevant instructions.
Elvis. We’re going to receive more stories about him than we can print. If you choose to write a story featuring him, make sure it’s stunning. Straying away from the tabloids-are-true approach—or Bubba Hotep’s “Elvis fights a monster”—will help your story stand out.
The following will be immediately rejected:
Dark 1950s sitcom parodies. Revealing Ward Cleaver, or a stock 50s sitcom dad, was abusive isn’t clever—or interesting. This is unacceptable either as a story in its own right, or as an aspect within a story.
World War 3/Nuclear Armageddon. While the threat of nuclear war was present, stories should remain in the real 1950s.
Payment: 5% of the gross profit will be paid for each accepted story. These payments will be issued to you at quarterly intervals. Stories under 1,500 words will only receive 4% of the gross profit. Rights: First World Digital and Print. Deadline: March 15th, 2018 Word Count: 4,000-20,000 How to Submit your Story:
The interior of the document must be in double spaced Times New Roman (12 point font).
Indents must be placed through your system’s Paragraph function; do not set indents by pressing tab or space. If you already have tabbed or spaced indents, please remove them first. Please use full em dashes (—).
At the top of your document, please include William Shunn’s submission header.
Tell us a bit about yourself in the body of your email. Don’t stress this, it won’t make or break your submission.
Place the collection you’re submitting to, your name, and your story title in the subject line of your email. For example, “Their Coats All Red / Rudyard Kipling / The Mark of the Beast”
Nicole Petit writes because no other job lets her sleep until noon. Fantasy is her forte, a sliver of genre right between urban fantasy and fairy tales. She writes the Magic Realm Manuscripts series and curated the collections Just So Stories, After Avalon (#4 Best Anthology—The Preditors and Editors’ Readers’ Poll 2016), and From the Dragon Lord’s Library (Best Story and Best Cover, respectively—the Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards 2016). The Preditor and Editor Readers’ Poll 2016 named her #3 Best Editor overall.
By all means draw inspiration from them, but I’m not looking for Lovecraft/Mythos fiction, or rehashes of Greek mythology, etc. unless these are outstanding, different, and memorable! I want something new and exciting! New psychological terrors, new fears, new creatures and new stories of the supernatural. If you need more ideas, take a look at Brian Lumley’s work, or H.G. Wells, or Cornish myths, Japanese legends, etc.
Clive Barker’s story from the Books of Blood “The Madonna” will be one of our archetypes, so if you don’t know that story, please familiarise yourself with it… I’d also urge you to look at some of Brian Lumley’s work, e.g. Haggopian for some fresh ideas.
But don’t forget I’ve read all these stories, so no pastiches or cheap imitations, please 🙂
themed anthologies on Amazon. (You may have to look for them in your stores, or ask for them!)
Word Count, etc.
Word count is expected to be 5,000 – 8,000 and I am flexible to a degree, on the basis that if the story fits you should wear it. Having said that, although it’s a flat-rate payment, I don’t think a writer should limit themselves based on the payment rate. I anticipate a huge wave of top-notch submissions again (pardon the pun,) so I’m after memorable stories, a sense of dread, and some level of believability would be more important than a lengthy treatise or a quick shudder. Yes, sea monsters and underwater encounters can be believable if written well, which Brian Lumley demonstrates well in his work, as does Ramsey Campbell in stories like ‘The Inhabitant of the Lake,’ and Lovecraft’s ‘Dagon’ also leaps to mind… If these are your archetypes, and you immerse yourself in these, then you might just be a swimmer!
Hello everyone and Happy New Year! We’re only a week into the madness before I kick this post off to each and every one of you! I do apologize, between the holidays, 2 kids, and my birthday being this last weekend things are a bit messy. Still, I wanted to give you a few hints as to how the Horror Tree is going and what we have in store for this year!
First up, I do have to bring it up as I’ve been running this site as a loss since it began and it is getting more expensive each year. We’ve kicked off a Patreon and would be very thankful to any donations, even at the dollar level! If we can get it up to $30 a month (almost a third of the way there at the time of this post) it would mean that the only cost is my time and nothing out of my pocket which would be pretty huge. (Reminder: 2 kids!)
Okay, begging is over. I’m really not trying to overdo it.
It’s a new day
So, we’ve got a few things growing. The very first of which that you will likely notice is that we are planning on expanding into book reviews! Ideally, anthology reviews but books in general. One of our current interviewers is looking to coordinate it and now that my time will somewhat stabilize after the holidays we’re going to discuss things. If you would like to contribute reviews or are open to reviewing books please reach out through our contact page!
Oh, and anyone interested in doing interviews, please reach out as well! We’ve got a few more interviewer positions that we’d love to fill.
Next up, ‘Trembling With Fear’! We’ve got a few changes that we’re exploring this year but the big news is that the anthology is well in the works! We’ve got all of the stories from the last year collected, now they just need to be formatted and put into a file and we need to find artwork for it. The process is in the works but I wouldn’t expect an announcement until next month.
There are *3* resources for authors which we’d like to launch this year as well. However, they will come down to either time donations from a programmer who we have on staff that has less time than I do or the Patreon actually taking off. We’ll see! I hope to be able to get at least one of these going late this year.
It’s a new life
I would like to once again give a HUGE thank you to both Stephanie Ellis and Liz Butcher. We would NOT be able to keep up with either Trembling With Fear or our Interview section without these two amazing women. They are some of the lifeblood of the site in helping keep things running and are absolutely amazing people to work with.
As for growing, we’ve obviously added the above two mentions this last year. Traffic wise, we’re up to a minimum of 1,000 unique hits a day and double that on good days. (Page views are MUCH higher!) Thank you, one and all for continuing to enjoy the site and I hope we can only expand on how we’re helpful to you.
A New Year has begun and in the UK, we are celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage. In 1918 it was only women over the age of 30 (and fulfilling certain property criteria) who were given the vote. Full suffrage was not achieved until 1928. Why do I mention this here? Partly because the issue of equality between the sexes is ongoing, because it seems that women in this particular section of our industry still need a boost – February is the traditional ‘Women in Horror’ month – in order to make themselves heard or get themselves seen. It should not be this way. Talking to horror writer, Theresa Derwin recently at the Birmingham Horror Convention, we discussed how, as women, we seriously had to consider whether or not to use our own names as a byline or do we revert to initials or a pen name to disguise ourselves in order to get more readers, she also waved her arm at a male-dominated aisle of authors to demonstrate the imbalance. It made me think of our approach at Horror Tree and I can honestly say that 1) a person’s gender does not come into it when I read a story, it is always the work first and foremost, 2) we seem to get a relatively equal submission rate from both sexes and 3) elsewhere in Horror Tree, staff are again balanced in terms of gender representation. I think the Horror Tree should be proud that for us, at least, equality is the norm.
Here’s to a successful year of writing for everyone!
Editor, Trembling With Fear
We are entering the second year of Trembling With Fear and that is a little crazy if you ask me. I honestly wasn’t sure if everyone would be responsive to the concept and while comments are a little light, shares, and views of every week’s post are pretty high! Someone out there is enjoying reading these so we’ll happily be keeping it up throughout the coming year.
Stay tuned for news on a potential print edition. We’re getting that figured out right now!
‘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.
Editor, Horror Tree
The door chimed as Stu entered the pine-scented office of the Mansley Arboretum. A willowy, sixty-something woman with rose-red hair and tan glasses glared from behind the front desk. She wore a flower-print dress, acorn earrings, and a pale blue lily in her hair. “Can I help you?”
“I’m here to see Traci.” Stu lifted a brown paper bag. “I brought lunch.”
The woman knit her brow. “Traci hasn’t worked here for weeks.” She sized him up. “But she often stops by with her husband.”
Stu’s stomach turned. Suddenly, his six-foot two-hundred-fifty pound frame felt full of helium. “Actually . . . I’m her husband. This is my first time here.”
The woman’s hands crossed her heart. “Oh my.”
“There’s been a mistake. I’m looking for Traci Matthews. Your receptionist.”
The woman nodded.
Stu’s fingers fidgeted, crunching the paper bag. “See I’m usually across town this time of day, but we had this stupid fight, about me losing weight. I teased her about her kooky vegan diet. And long story short, I picked up one these crazy kale salads she loves and . . .” Stu’s voice cracked. “I should go.”
“Please, Mr. Matthews, perhaps I am mistaken. You see, it’s true that Traci resigned. We have exotic plants here, and she didn’t feel comfortable caring for them in addition to her desk job. We take trees very seriously.”
Stu shook his head, dazed. “But she was the receptionist, not a caretaker.”
“Mr. Matthews, Mansley is more than an arboretum, it’s an ecosystem. Being a part of that system may have been a deeper commitment than she expected. Personally, I thought Traci was very sweet, but groves and gardens require harmony to flourish. Her stepping down was for the best.”
Stu gave an uncertain nod.
“But your wife continued to meet regularly with her friend Ash for lunch, right here on the grounds. Tall, strong fellow. You must know him?”
Stu shook his head. Tears welled in his eyes.
“But I had only assumed Ash was her husband. He must be something else entirely. Her brother?”
“Traci has no siblings.” The room spun.
The woman rounded the desk to support him. “Please have a look around outside. Traci often stops in this time of day. If nothing else, you should clear your head. The simplest explanation is usually correct.”
“Thanks.” Stu pushed away. “Sorry to disturb you.” The chimes tingled as Stu exited. Green treetops danced and grass rippled in the breeze. A pleasant aroma, like the daffodils in Traci’s garden at home, drew him down a winding path.
The susurrus of the canopy beckoned Stu toward a stout tree with pale, smoke-colored bark and a knotted trunk, low branches, and gnarled roots. He collapsed against it. He was clutching the paper bag so tight that he had torn it open.
Not sure what else to do, he ripped the bag apart and popped open the compostable cardboard container. How many times had Traci tried to get him to eat this rabbit food? Greens, tiny onion shoots, purple radishes, and carrot shavings filled the box.
He tore a packet of raspberry vinaigrette and drizzled it over the salad. Then he poked and prodded with his plastic fork and took a bite. It was sweet and citrusy, crunchy, with a hint of bitterness.
He could eat this. For Traci, he could have eaten this once a day, or five days a week. He could have budged for Traci, for his own health.
Maybe he still could.
Something caught his eye. A white gold glint in the grass. Traci’s wedding band. Had she discarded it in a fit of passion as tall, strong Ash scooped her into his arms and carried her away? Away from the part time job that would have helped pay off their mortgage. Away from all commitments.
He reached for the ring when he noticed more items strewn about. Traci’s green shawl, torn at the edge. The cracked lenses of her reading glasses.
A brown vine snagged Stu’s wrist. It coiled around him, tightened, and tugged his arm.
Stu shouted. More vines whipped from behind, snaring his limbs, pulling him onto his feet. He turned to find the squat tree trunk prying apart. Knotholes split open. Wooden teeth gnashed. Wormy gray tongues wriggled toward him.
Stu twisted and screamed. More vines snapped around him. Thorny branches curled across his chest, shredding his skin, staining his white dress shirt blood red.
The woman from the office strolled up the path. Her flowery gown swayed in the breeze. “I see you’ve met Ash,” she smiled. “How nice that you’ll be meeting your wife for lunch after all.”
Kevin M. Folliard
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.
“Why does mum keep doing this? Can’t she see the plates don’t match? I swear, if she puts just one more plate in the wrong place in the cupboard, I’ll kill her!”
She moved the plate and placed it in the correct location. It was week two of a visit by her parents. The mother-daughter relationship was strained to the limit.
“Don’t get wound up.”
“I promise, if she does it again, it’ll be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
She left the kitchen, fuming. He giggled, then moved the plate she’d just touched back to the wrong place.
R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
The smell of copper filled the air, my hands were covered with hot crimson blood. I knew the last sounds my ears heard were the screams of his terror as I chopped parts of him into little pieces.
They found him lying in a pool of blood, his chest ripped open, his heart in his mouth as if the killer was saying, “Eat your heart out.”
They asked me if I knew anything but all I said was, “I’m happy he’s gone. He thought nobody could take him out, guess he was wrong.” I laughed, finally relieved he was dead.
Kim Plasket is a Jersey girl at heart relocated to sunny Florida. She enjoys writing mainly horror and paranormal stories and lives with her husband and 2 kids. When she is not slaving away at her day job, she can be found drinking coffee with fellow author Valerie Willis and planning the demise of some poor character. Currently she has several short stories featured in anthologies such as ‘Demonic Wildlife’ and ‘The Hunted’, also has a story in an Anthology Titled Fireflies and Fairy dust with more to come.
The small girl in a pink skirt wandered onto the hump backed bridge, holding a leash but no dog. She stared open mouthed at the sight of Hannah, hanging upside down over the side of the bridge.
“Troll hunting,” Hannah explained.
The girl nodded solemnly. She watched while Hannah carrying a knife, climbed under the bridge. She listened to the screams.
When Hannah reappeared she swung the troll’s ugly severed head. Blood dripped onto her jeans.
“You can sleep safe tonight.” Hannah smiled.
The little girl waved bye. There were no trolls.
She thought the dead man’s face looked sad.
Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published on line) and spooky longer tales (3 are available for download on www.www.alfiedog). She has a collection of her Flash fiction coming out soon from Chapel Town Books in the UK. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.
Deadline: March 1sst, 2018
Payment: $50 and a contributor’s copy
Baba Yaga Anthology (actual title TBD) Anthologist: Kate Wolford Open for Submissions: January 1 to March 1, 2018 Expected Publication: late 2018 Story Length: 7,500 to 20,000 words Payment: $50 per story + contributor copy
Baba Yaga, the terrifying witch of the forest in Slavic folklore, lends herself to all kinds of interpretations. Notorious for traveling in a mortar while wielding a pestle, Baba Yaga sometimes wreaks havoc on humans, but can turn around and help when she feels like it. And she is an early Tiny House owner–hers moves on chicken feet.
Baba Yaga may be recognizable from classic images by Ivan Billibin, but, in the US and some other countries, her qualities are not as widely known as they are in Slavic countries. A link to learn more is HERE.
Kate is looking for stories from Baba Yaga’s point of view, or the point of view from those she helps or hurts, or from anyone who might be a protagonist worthy of the Baba Yaga story. You can set the story in the past or present. The story can take place anywhere in the world. It can include romance or action or tragedy or comedy.
Kate wants well-developed stories that don’t disintegrate at the end because they’re rushed or major plot lines are unfinished. Develop characters. Draw readers in with specific details. Make them root for the protagonist.
The audience is age 15 and up. Please, no sci-fi, dystopian, erotica, high fantasy, time-travel, futuristic, space travel, or western submissions. No love triangles, please.
Kate will not provide feedback at any point during the submissions period.
Submission Method: Send your story pasted into the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened. Please email with Submission: [story title] in the subject line. Please include a brief cover letter, but DO NOT summarize your story in the cover letter. Send submissions to Enchantedconversation[at]gmail[dot]com.
No multiple submissions. Just one per author. But simultaneous submissions are fine.
Deadline: March 1st, 2018
Payment: $0.01USD per word.
Announcing Radiant Crown Publishing’s upcoming anthology of weird western tall tales in the Subterranean Series, Hex Gunslinger!
January 1st, 2018- March 1st, 2018
Anything submitted outside of this window will be deleted unread.
ISBN-10: Coming Soon
ISBN-13: Coming Soon
Hex Gunslinger is an upcoming anthology of speculative, mysterious, and romantic weird western tall tales! Framed as an unearthed secret library years after the civil war, each story should hold the ethos of western expansion beginning in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, and ending around the 1850s not necessarily restricted to a North American audience. Do not take manifest destiny as a mantra to live by. Shape a world with all the magic and mystery of the frontier without letting the ugliness of conquest be consumed with fantastic whimsy. We want wide open plains where violence ruled, underground movements brewing with tension, and the Wild Wild West in all it’s beauty and madness. Bring us your stories marking the age of the gold rush, injustice, genocide, mass immigration, transcontinental railroads, vigilante justice, telegraphs, outlaws, gunslingers, slick talkers, setting suns, and the impending civil war that would rip a nation apart. Deadline March 1st, 2018 11:59 EST.
Non-exclusive archival rights as long as the website(s) hosting the work are online
If an audiobook is produced, payment is $0.01USD per word for non-exclusive electronic audio rights
First world electronic and print rights in English with exclusivity for 8 months from the date of publication
Please query if anything listed is of concern. Here is a good explanation of what this entails.
LENGTH & GUIDELINES
SHORT STORIES: 1000 to 7,499 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.
NOVELETTE: 7,500 to 17,499 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.
NOVELLA: 17,500 to 40,000 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.
SPOTLIGHT SHORT STORY: 1000 to 1500 words. One story involving a person of color serving as an officer of the law (officially or unofficially) as a central element of the plot. Paid $0.02USD or $0.03USD per word.
All payments made through PayPal. Please note that these are not professional rates. Fiction can only be resold as a reprint after publication. Decide if you want to take this payment scheme or submit to another market.
Poorly formatted and edited work
Works above the word counts and/or untitled
Overtly racist, sexist, violent, etc. works without adding value overall
Fanfiction of any kind
Excerpts out of a novel
Taboo elements (rape in all forms, incest, pedophilia, etc.) in almost all cases
Pushing the boundaries of genre and form
People of Color, disabled people, women, LGBTQIA, and other marginalized groups at the forefront
Pulp fiction, Weird Western, Cattlepunk, Southern Gothic, Folkloric Monsters, Occult Magick, Slipstream, Cowboys & Aliens, and so on
Via email (preferred): subs [at] radiantcrownpublishing.com
The subject line should read HEXGUNSLINGER: CATEGORY : TITLE (WORD COUNT) ex). HEXGUNSLINGER: SHORT STORIES: Super Story (1001)
A short cover letter is required. Please include your legal name, pen name (if relevant), contact information, recent publications/awards (if any), and a bio of 50-150 words. Interview questions will be sent to accepted authors. A photo of you is required if accepted as well
Submissions should be attached in the email as a .rtf, .doc or .docx
Shunn’s manuscript style for fiction required (double-spaced, 12 pt standard font, page numbers, etc.)
Translations into English are welcome
Up to two submissions in total allowed
Simultaneous submissions to other markets are accepted! Alert RCP immediately should your work be accepted somewhere else (congrats in advance!)
Currently around two months after submitting. Do not query before then. We do not send out notification We will try to answer all submissions with an acceptance or rejection letter.
Any personal information collected (including but not limited to your name, address, email, social media links, and pen name) is held in strict confidence and not shared with anyone else unless compelled by law or in the event threats are leveled against the staff.
If a third party contacts RCP interested in an author’s or artist’s work, the author/artist will be contacted first to ask permission to share details.
By sending us your work you understand and agree that:
You are the original creator and copyright holder of the work submitted;
You are not prohibited by any prior agreement from the transfer of exclusive electronic & print rights in English, first world translation rights into English, reprint rights, and/or non-exclusive audio rights to the work;
All information submitted is accurate and truthful; and
You accept sole responsibility for any false statements upon rights not disclosed.
If you are under the age of 18, your parent or guardian will sign your contract and accept your payment on your behalf. Finally, if accepted here and then republished, you are required to add the title of this anthology as your previous place of publication.