Trembling With Fear 09/03/2017

It’s not always monsters who lurk in dark corners. There are also stories, written long-ago, hidden in drawers or in boxes under the bed, waiting to see the light. So many writers spending hours polishing a story and then …

… and then they do nothing.

They tuck it away. Try and forget about it. Move on to the next one and the next. Eventually some will take the leap – that of sending their story out into the world but a number will never make that move and so great stories remain unread.

We need stories at TWF, whether drabble or longer flash, we need them, so dig them out and send them in; there must be so many good stories buried in the dark. Nor does it matter if you’ve never been published before – it’s the quality of the writing that counts. Everybody at Horror Tree has been in exactly the same position. It’s scary but it’s one of the best moves you could make – and it’s only the beginning.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

‘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

Commander of the Clew

I have found something and I am impressed. By diligently digging deeper and pushing myself further than I have intended, I have found something in the dirt. I am in love. Hunched over on my knees, I cast aside my gloves so I can feel my discovery as I pull it from the earth, cradling its limp white form in both hands. I raise my little treasure to the sky and it wriggles, ever so slightly. I am devoted. I will never go hungry again.

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I was born and raised in a city of impenetrable concrete and tar. As a toddler, I was the first to find the bottom of the sandbox. When it snowed I would be the first to meet it, head on, while the accumulated drifts would chip away from the earth like dead skin from the clouds above. I would burrow into the frost and dig tunnels, scooping clumps of maneuverable frost with my hands until I was submerged and hidden. At the furthest reaches of every street block, I was the boy who lived in the slush pile; stained by dirt and hungry sunlight.

I didn’t have my own backyard until I could afford my own home in a small college town, far from my un-crack-able city. I have grown old to the point that my joints are starting to tighten up, but I still have my inner list of pleasures to check off, the ones I first scribed in boyhood. I never quite got to play in the dirt the way I wanted to.

It’s a Saturday. I’m free from the office. I have a new shovel that I bought along with a toolkit because I’ve never owned one of those before, either. I’ve picked up a pack of seeds, too. I think they are pumpkin. After I start digging, I realize the seeds were an excuse. A mock rationalization to sink my shovel into the ground.

I have already taken a solitary walk through the woods, running my fingertips along the heaving trunks of the trees. I’ve memorized all their names from the textbooks I used to receive for Christmas. The woods aren’t new, surely, but it’s easy to pretend they are. All of America, and all of New England especially, has been built over for too many centuries to be fresh. Old moss covered walls of stacked stone scattered throughout the forest are the sole remnants of ancient property boundaries. I name the singing birds one by one and it is like déjà vu from an old dream. When I sink my shovel into the dirt the two and a half decades of separation between the boy I once was and the man I now am is breached.

I choose a spot at the edge of my lawn, where the grass is yellowed and weakened as it meets the fold of the forest. As if it knew I was coming, the ground has been made soft by a recent spout of rainfall I at first despised for the unnecessary difficulty it caused when I moved in.

One of the gloves I wear has a hole in it that quickly fills with dirt as I clear the mound of earth around my crater with long swipes of my arm. Winter’s memory keeps the air cool and the sweat along my brow never quite threatens to scorch my eyes. It’s almost a lazy motion, chipping the shovel’s blade into the ground. It’s almost like softly stirring a brewing pot of soup. It’s a gradual process before I’m standing in the hole that’s grown with each soft jab until it’s swallowed me up, gently. The smell of fresh earth is unlike nothing I’ve ever experienced. Flowers are pale, odorless weeds by comparison. I’m up to my waist when I notice the sun beginning to dip over the trees. I delicately lean the shovel against the side of my ground pocket and then head inside, for lunch.

I realize four hours have passed, without a sound, when I pass the clock in my kitchen. I’m surprised I didn’t get deeper into the earth. My pace must have been more relaxed than I thought. What’s the rush?

As I begin eating a hastily put together turkey sandwich, I notice a strange, crunchy sensation along my teeth. It takes me a while to realize I never washed my hands, and that the sandwich I’m feasting on is covered in dirt. You would have thought I was eating in the dark, oblivious with pleasure as I am. The whole experience reminds me of when I used to get stoned in high school and not even realize I was eating until my belly felt like it would burst.

As I lay in bed at night, listening to the owls signify their territory, the soreness creeps over my body as if some slivery black thing from the forest has suddenly decided to join me in bed.

Before the sun can beat back the morning murk, I find myself standing in the hole, barefoot. I’m craving the scent of fresh earth like one would a glass of water or bite of leftovers. I remember hearing that the urge for late night/early morning snacks relates back to primitive times when man would hunt at such hours. Before the sun can catch me, I start digging and whatever ache invaded me before bed is soon gone.

On Monday I decide to delay the start of my new job. I’ve done a lot already. I’ve made enough money to afford my own home with only a modest mortgage. At the university, there was a group of important people that greeted me on Friday when I went in for a meet and greet. They were excited for me to start but, really, I can start on a Tuesday, a Wednesday, even. It’s a relaxed job, I don’t even have to call out. I just have to show up to my office and get in touch with certain professors and, well, I am an organizer, see. I’m an academic coach, I get things moving. I am important. I am a special employee, and I get to pick and choose my hours when they get to have me.

On Tuesday morning, I dig faster. I grunt with every thrust of the shovel, hacking into the dirt I now need to climb out from with an old stainless steel ladder the previous homeowners left in my garage. If I were to take a break, I would have to run my hands along the walls of fresh earth forming a dome around me. I don’t take a break. Not until I find it. I am beginning to believe the last frontier is not in the ocean like some say, nor is it really space, not until we really get out there. The very ground beneath us, there is so much to discover. It’s where all the secrets are.

I am not sure what prompted it but at one point I begin attacking the ground, not even digging anymore just stabbing, spearing the earth until my arms fling the shovel away from me like a wildly swinging crane that’s cables have been cut. On my knees, I begin plucking through the brown with just my hands. I’ve forgotten to wear gloves. My hands are raw; blood and pus soaked, yet they don’t hurt. I tumble away the clumps of brown that grow darker and richer the deeper I dig. I pick through the bottom of my pit, and there I finally find the white worm.

Like a fat pinecone gone pale, I pick it up. I cradle it to the sky, and then bring it into the light. Cupped in one hand, held in front of my face, I don’t let it leave my sight until I have left my hole behind. It is alive. It has been calling to me, all this time. It has decided to leave the soil and the dark behind. It has decided it wants to be found, and it chose me.

I set it on my dinner table and watch it come alive. There’s a colony of black dots, eyes, along one fatter end of it. It slowly rolls and wriggles until it’s facing me, as I lean close. I have not slept, I have not bathed. The flesh along my hands has been stripped and my feet are black and my toe and fingernails hang in shards. Dirt clogs my nostrils. Above all, though, I do feel, abruptly, one thing, as I stare into the worm’s many eyes. It wants one last thing from me. I pick it up, and the thing is growing warm. There’s a faint black slit below its eyes. A mouth, a little flickering blue tongue like that of a lizard. It wants more than a kiss. I raise my idol, and take a bite.

Nick Manzolillo

My short fiction has appeared in over thirty publications including Wicked Witches: A New England Horror Writers Anthology, Thuglit, Grievous Angel, and The Tales To Terrify podcast. I’ve recently earned an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University. By day I am a content operations specialist, editor, and writer for TopBuzz, a news app. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work for publication.

Love’s Last Kiss

The dwarves dropped the cover to the stone sarcophagus when the handsome prince rode his charger into the clearing at sunset. His horse flinched at the sound and the prince bit his tongue.

The prince dismounted, wiped his mouth, strode to the stone coffin, admired the raven haired beauty inside, and bent to wake her with a kiss.

His blood caressed her ruby lips, her eyes opened, and she smiled as her fangs extended. Her strong arms held him and her teeth slid smoothly into his neck.

He shuddered and three drops of his blood splattered her snow white cheek.

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.

Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:

Uncommon Origins
Twelve Days
Hindered Souls
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #3

The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.

Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction, and two drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.

“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in July of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2017, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Other short stories will be published online and in anthologies through the year. Visit Robert’s author pages on Amazon and Goodreads for more information.

Bugs

Christine swatted another spider with the newspaper. She hated them, feared them. She reckoned she’d killed thousands at her home over the years, and was proud of it.

She curled up in bed, confident she could sleep peacefully without another intruder frightening her.

The Human had killed its mate. It wanted revenge. It darted across the blanket, and dived underneath. It found the opening between her legs, and scurried inside. After a while, it delivered its package and left.

The next day, Christine felt stabbing pains below. She sat on the toilet. Screamed. Dozens of spiders ran down her legs.

Justin Boote

Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.

He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].

Story’s End

Momma’s reading me a bedtime story about a princess again, but only because I begged.
The princess is beautiful like a summer day at the beach, or at least how I imagine those types of days.
Momma doesn’t allow what’s left of my skin to bathe in the sun’s glimmer.
The princess falls in love.
The prince destroys the monsters.
The freaks.
The couple lives happily ever after.
I ask Momma why don’t we ever get the happy ending?
“Because,” she says and closes her yellow eyes, “monsters don’t get happy endings, child. You know this.”
She closes the book.

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of “Love For Slaughter,” has published pieces with Page & Spine, The Literary Hatchet, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II, and she is a contributing editor for the Oddville Press. Find her lurking in graveyards!

You can follow her work on Amazon.

The Importance Of The Bio

Ever since we launched ‘Trembling With Fear’ I’ve seen quite a few interesting submissions from you fine folks. I’ve also noticed a few key areas that authors are not focusing on which could be easily improved and which I’ll be discussing over the course of the next year. These topics and the advice given are all intended to support your development as a writer and as a professional. I hope that you find them both useful and informative.

Today’s Topic? The Author Bio.

Quite often you will see with our submission call a request for an author bio at X number of words. It is something that we actually request is sent in with the initial submission (note: not reading guidelines is a problem in itself. I can’t tell you how many submissions haven’t had a bio included.) The idea of the bio itself is straight forward. It is a quick down and dirty biography to tell the world, the publisher, and the readers who you are.

Why Is The Author Bio Important?

The author bio is made to grab attention and has a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it is trying to grab the editor’s attention to tell them a little about why you and your story matter. On the other, it is also meant to pique the interest of the reader who has taken the time to sit down with your work.

So let’s take a look at how the bio matters to the two groups of people who are reading your work.

The Editor

This is your chance to grab an editor’s attention before they hit your work. What can you bring to the table? What works do you have published? What kind of a following do you have? How well can you draw them in? This is you, advertising you, in 100-400 words. You can’t make it bland but going too far overboard could lose interest.

The Reader

To be totally honest, most readers aren’t going to want to know about your other works first if they are reading your bio. This is where you make a connection with them to draw them back for more. Including your prior works is required or strongly welcomed by many publishers, though it might work to your advantage to include them at the end of your bio.

But where do the editors who will be selecting your shorts through novels weigh in on this?

Author bios are important to readers as well as publishers, because they let the reader get to know them a little better, beyond just through their writing. Maybe they are from the same town as the reader, or the author and reader share a similar hobby.

The biggest mistake I see authors make with their bios is when they get too in-depth and too personal in what they share. Bios are supposed to be a brief snapshot of what makes them interesting as people. But if winning a yodeling contest at age 8 didn’t somehow shape the author, it’s best to leave that out.

Whenever I’m asked, I recommend to authors that they keep their bio to no more than 200 words. Only share one or two personal details that you feel really speak to who you are as a writer and as a person. Don’t share anything you feel you might regret having shared later.

A.M. Rycroft

Editor, Mighty Quill Press

First impressions are everything. It is often difficult to regain a level of respect or dignity if a first impression is negative or lacking in charisma. As a publisher, a short bio that lacks substantial information or credence to the writer concerned shows me not only that the author doesn’t find the submission process serious, but also that the author doesn’t take themselves seriously.

Professionalism is everything in the world of publishing and presentation is key. When we receive a submission from an author, we see them as an investment. It is difficult to justify investing in something that either appears sloppy or quite frankly, boring. Writers should always present bios written as though they were submitting to themselves.

Ask yourself, “what would I want to see in a potential author?” “What would hook me if I was a publisher?” I cannot vouch for other publishers, but I can say that for myself, each author we open our doors to are authors that we see the potential of developing lifelong relationships with. Through networking and connections, possibilities are endless. Because of this, we want to know you not only as a potential investment but as a potential friend. I have made countless friendships along the way and the bio is often the first thing I look at when considering a writer’s work. Sometimes even before I read their manuscript. Take yourself seriously and we will be inclined to reciprocate this notion.

C.P. Dunphey

Editor, Gehenna Publishing House

The biggest thing I’m looking for in a bio is experience and promotion ability. I want a link to a website where I can see the author actively working on their craft. Even if they haven’t been published yet, I want to see them trying, building a blog/social media readership, and actively seeking publication. It’s nice to see what else they have published, just so I can get a feel of their experience level if I decide to publish them. I also like to hear about other talents. I’m not so concerned with what writer associations they belong to or awards they won, although I understand other editors might be interested in that.

The two biggest mistakes on bios are:
1) When they don’t give me anything I can identify them with. Even if you haven’t been published yet, give me an identity! Are you the foremost expert on birds of Africa? Do you have another career that we can tie in? Are you a championship BMX racer? Do you volunteer 20 hours a month at an animal shelter? Do you hold the record for most crocheted telephone poles? Why should we and our readers care to read what you’ve written?
2) Not giving a website link is a big problem. I need to know who I’m publishing. While we at HorrorAddicts.net choose authors by story content first, if we have two stories and we can only pick one, we’ll investigate your public image to see if our readers will be able to engage with you. The worst thing you can do (And this is a real quote) is say, “I don’t have a website, blog, or social media, and I don’t plan on getting any.” Not having a way for readers to connect with you is career suicide and we’ll not help you “unpromote”.

Emerian Rich

Editor, Horror Addicts

So where does this leave you on the bio?

You want to connect with both your audience and the editor. Your bio needs to be both marketable and relatable. Not too long, and not too short. It’s a fine line on length though most publishers will list their preference in their submission calls.

My suggestion is to make multiple versions of your biography that would fit in 2-3 length ranges so that you’re prepared for whatever option comes up. In addition, make sure it is both personable and professional. You want to mix sharing your work with your personality. Your bio is in many cases just as important as your writing—it can open the door to a publisher and have a potential reader coming back for more.

Is there any aspect of the bio that you believe we’ve left out? Are there any other areas of writing that you’d like us to discuss? Share your thoughts below!

Taking Submissions: Terror Politico Anthology Submissions

Deadline: December 31st, 2017
Payment: $30.00 (3000-4999 words) $50.00 (5000-5999 words) $60 (6000-6999 words) $70.00 (7000 words) US $ per short story accepted. Reprints will be considered, and if selected SDP will pay $25.00

“Terror Politico” 2018 Submission Guidelines
This is the second annual submission call for the 2018 Scary Dairy anthology: Terror Politico!
Scary Dairy Press is seeking short story submissions of 3000-7000 words max for the anthology: Terror Politico!
This is a terrorizing anthology about the evils of politics, and the Capital Hill monsters that lurk in our political arena. Take on a favorite topic of debate (examples: firearms, contraception, women’s rights, racism) and escort it into the fiction arena. Put a paranormal, or monster spin on it, or take it into the future. You decide! Any aspect of politics that keeps you awake at night could have a home here. If you have a question about appropriate content, then message us!
What we want: This anthology may include one or more genres such as: horror, dark fiction, dark fantasy, speculative fiction, or bizarro. Your story may occur in any time, place or space. Mix it up, but make it thought provoking and disturbing to the human conscience. It’s up to you whether you offer the world an answer to political corruption, or end the tale with the death and destruction of stars and stripes on the very last page.
What we don’t want: No child abuse/sexual abuse scenes. No gratuitous splatter, gore or rape. If you use it, there must be a clear purpose for it. No overused tropes (vampires, werewolves, zombies) unless you clearly have something unusual and unique. If you’re not sure, then email/message us and ask at [email protected]
Manuscript format: Shunn Manuscript Format: http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html . READ THE DIRECTIONS. Submission dates: 01 September, 2017 -31 December, 2017. Submit to [email protected] .
Payment: $30.00 (3000-4999 words) $50.00 (5000-5999 words) $60 (6000-6999 words) $70.00 (7000 words) US $ per short story accepted. Reprints will be considered, and if selected SDP will pay $25.00. No stories under 3000 or over 7000 will be considered without permission of SDP. Submit manuscripts to [email protected] starting 9/1/17.
IMPORTANT: Subject line should read: Politico_Last Name_Title of Submission
Publishing rights remain with the publisher for a total of 2 years, and may include written, electronic and audio formats.

Via: Scary Dairy Press.

What Seeds Are The Horror Tree Planting In September?

Happy September Everyone!

We’re closing in on the end of summer and the beginning of Fall. While I for one am sad to see the warm weather on the way out, Fall has always been my favorite time of the year and the most inspiring for writing. Hopefully, that is the same for some of you as well!

Hey, look at that. Two months in a row where I’m able to give you a solid update on how the site is and where we’re heading. Thanks for sticking with us as we try to help navigate you through the crazy world of open calls, writing advice, and more!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

As mentioned last month, Liz Butcher has become our interview coordinator. Since that time we’ve added multiple new interviewers! Derek Brown has already included a couple on the site with both Ruschelle Dillon (who has previously contributed to Trembling With Fear) and Selene MacLeod both looking to help as well. More on that hopefully this coming month!

Last month saw our Twitter account account break 5900 followers, this month? We broke 6300! Thanks to those who are interested in the craft of writing and wanted to check us out! Our Facebook really is vastly behind.

Other changes that the site has made on the boring tech site is that we’ve made it https compliant to make Google happy since that’s apparently a thing now. Boring, but I wanted to mention it in case you saw and wondered.

Finally, a bit of vagueness. We have four potential ‘things’ in the works for the site being planned. I’m hoping that some of this will be good news over the next few months that we’ll be able to share with you sooner than later!

I can’t stress enough again how super smooth the Trembling With Fear line has been going with Stephanie Ellis on board! She’s also got some ideas for expanding which mesh with mine and has just made it so much more organized and running like a mostly well-oiled machine!

Discussions are in the early phases, but there will be some changes to TWF in 2018.

Speaking of, we always meant for at least the first year’s worth of work to be collected into an anthology. Anyone out there with artistic or formatting talent who might be interested in donating some time on that end of things – please reach out!

If you follow our social feeds, you’ve likely noticed the push in TWF posts and our articles. Fun fact: everyone seems to be enjoying the fiction as, from at least the social aspect, we’ve had about a 40% higher click through from that!

If there are any thoughts or suggestions on how we can help make Trembling With Fear better or expand it, please reach out!

Ongoing Submissions: Mystery Weekly Magazine

Payment: $25 USD

Use the form below to send us your 2000-10000 word mystery. Submissions must be original works of short fiction that have never appeared online or in print in any form. We currently pay $25 USD for accepted stories.

If your story is accepted, a digital agreement must be signed and payment will be sent by PayPal to the email address you specify below. Your story may appear in our emails, on our website, in our App, in our monthly digital and print magazine, as social media excerpts, and possibly in printed collections of our monthly issues. We require for first-publication and archival rights with an exclusivity period of 1 year.

Note: Avoid excessive profanity and violence, and make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.

To submit, go here: Mystery Weekly Magazine.

Taking Submissions: SPECIES: Tigers

Deadline: January 1st, 2018
Payment: Contributor’s Copy
Note: Reprints Allowed

Thurston Howl Publications is now accepting submissions for volume three of its furry anthology series SPECIES: Tigers.

Deadline: January 1, 2018
Word count: 2,500-8,000; a little above and a little below will be acceptable
Rating: PG-13
Please put the story title and TIGERS in the subject.

Tigers have stalked the landscapes of human creativity as monsters and heroes. Whether it was the “Tiger, tiger burning bright” of William Blake or Rudyard Kipling’s Sher Khan, tigers hold a certain place in the human mind as symbols of the wild. For the third volume of SPECIES, we want to see the many faces of anthro tigers. We will be accepting exactly five reprints and five original stories. Tigers have to be the central characters, but they do not have to be the only characters in these stories. While we will accept stories of wolves in pre-modern settings, we will prefer stories of them in 1900s to futuristic settings.

You can submit up to three stories, but we will only accept one per author (if any). (Reprints do not count in the total).
Reprints are encouraged, but you have to own full permission of the work in order for us to consider it.
We will not accept simultaneous submissions.
Payment: Authors will receive a free copy of the print book.
Send submissions in .doc or .docx format to [email protected].
If you are sending more than one submission, send multiple emails instead of putting them all in one.
We will inform all authors regarding decisions within a week or two after the deadline.
Book will likely be released in the summer.

Via: Thurston Howl Publications.

Taking Submissions: Death by Cupcake

Deadline: December 1st, 2017
Payment: Royalty Split

We’re putting together an anthology of delicious cozy mystery stories!

The long of it:

Imagine yourself in your favorite chair. There’s a cat in your lap, a fire in the fireplace, and on the little table at your elbow, your favorite hot drink. The book in your hand is a cozy.

A cozy is a mystery, which, of course, means a tale of crime and intrigue. Often that crime is murder. But although the circumstances surrounding the crime can be ugly, that ugliness—as well as any attendant sex, violence, or cruelty–takes place offstage. Instead, the crime is treated as a puzzle, and the sleuth, a charming amateur, is the hero.

Many cozies take place in small, pleasant towns. Many have female sleuths. Quite a few are organized around themes, such as crafts, hobbies, food, or pets. If your mystery has a recipe or a crime-solving ferret, it’s a cozy, and we’d like to see it.

The short of it: 2K-10K words

Deadline: December 1, 2017

Payment: share of royalties

A few rules:

§ Plot must center on a crime and its solution

§ Amateur sleuth

§ No graphic sex, violence, cruelty, or strong language (including slurs and epithets)

§ Previously unpublished authors welcome

§ Writers from underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to submit

And, there must be a cupcake somewhere in the story.

What this means is up to you. Does the main character own a cupcake shop? Is the cupcake a murder weapon? Is the victim’s nickname “cupcake”? Does the villain leave a trail of cupcake crumbs wherever they go?

Use your imagination, and send us your best. editorjessfaraday at hotmail.com

Light Space

Elm Books is looking for short story submissions for our next Science Fiction & Fantasy collection. We are interested in short stories (no more than 15,000 words) featuring heroic PROTAGONISTS WITH DISABILITIES (broadly defined) and that fall within ANY SCIENCE FICTION or FANTASY SUB GENRE. Stories may be soft or hard science fiction, fantasy, or slipstream. We are particularly interested in anthropological, feminist, and speculative work that will keep us turning pages in the wee hours. Last time, we received a number of submissions that were quite dark in tone. We are VERY interested, this time, in light and humorous stories. Odd is also always good.

Deadline: December 1, 2017

Undeath and the Age of Steam

We’re looking for Steampunk stories—specifically, mysteries that take place in a Steampunk setting. A mystery is the story of a crime and its solution. As for Steampunk, you can find a good, concise description at Steampunk.comSupernatural elements are welcome.

Here are the particulars:

Length: Maximum 10,000 words.
Deadline: Contact Jess Faraday immediately if you have a story for this collection – we will be going to press soon!
Submit to: editorjessfaraday at hotmail.com

Format: paperback and e-book
Payment: share of royalties plus author copies 
Contract: we use a modified EPIC contract.

Additional Information:

A lot of Steampunk focuses on the European experience. Elm Books is dedicated to promoting diverse authors and stories. Priority will be given to stories that feature characters from traditionally underrepresented groups—main characters of color, female protagonists, differently-abled main characters, LGBTQ main characters, and so on. Also, priority will be given to stories set outside of Europe, especially those examining colonialism from a non-European perspective.

We will not print stories containing graphic sex or violence.

Sound like enough of a challenge? Get writing!

Via: Elm Books.

Trembling With Fear 08/27/2017

This week, we thought it was about time I introduced myself properly now that I’ve had a few weeks behind the scenes reading and responding to all your stories. Like all of you I am a writer and that was what brought me initially to this wonderful site roughly 3 years ago. It was here that I found the majority of submission calls for various magazines and anthologies resulting in over 20 short stories published – to my ongoing amazement – and, as I am not the most prolific writer due to work and family pressures, I take this as a pretty good success rate. In addition, my first novella length story will soon be published in another anthology, again found at Horror Tree. And that is why I am here, it is my way of giving back to a site which has been invaluable in developing my writing career, not only in terms of submission calls but in the supportive articles which I refer back to when I need motivation when that horrible writer’s curse of self-doubt creeps in. I’ve been chuffed to bits (def. = pleased, UK) that others have supported TWF by sending us their flash pieces and drabble, and I have tried to be as supportive and helpful as I can with my responses. I know so well how frustrating it is to get a rejection and then have no idea why and as long as time allows I will try and feedback in my responses. Now I’d better go and check that inbox again …

Stephanie Ellis

Trembling With Fear, Horror Tree

‘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

Notes From The God Chair

Number 4 said she hated spiders.  Fuck, will she regret that.  He wondered how long.  Probably by next shift.  Maybe they’ll wait.  But she’ll wish she hadn’t let that slip.

 

Number 6 wanted something to drink.  She begged.  She raised her voice.  He sent her into the antechamber and then had the grunts take away her stool.

 

Number 2 casually mentioned that he was born with 6 fingers on each hand.  He’d had his extra fingers cut off.  His ancestors were from the West Indies, he said, as if that explained it.  He said the extra fingers were a sign of good luck.  The man asked “Then why did you cut them off?”  Number 2 had no answer.  Per the ordinance, the temperature increased 30 degrees.

 

Number 3 asked him to talk to her, about anything.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The man was excited because this morning he’d tried a new way to work, and it had saved him 10 minutes.  On the 705.  Go figure, he thought.  On the map, that route looked like it went far out of the way.  The system never even suggested it.  But he tried it and he beat the system.  It made him feel good.  Empowered.

 

At the beginning of every shift, the man checked the envelope that waited for him by the chair.  Nothing out of the ordinary today.

 

He sat in the dark, watching the monitors.  An entire wall of them.  Different angles of the subjects crying and screaming.  Having deep dark existential crises, and sometimes simply experiencing normal everyday crises.  It was like having forty-eight windows into Hell.

 

While spending long hours in the dark room, at times he would begin to nod off.  Then he’d snap awake, terrified that someone might discover he’d fallen asleep. Two curators had been removed for “inefficacy,” never to be seen again.  Thankfully, the screaming kept him awake.

 

The man watched Number 7 and Number 9 as they were forced to assemble furniture in their respective cells.  At least they thought it was furniture.  The one who finished first got a sandwich and the other one got the fog.  As they nailed and screwed the bulky frustrating pieces together, they came to realize that they were building coffins.

 

He asked Number 8 if she had the chance, would she let Number 4 go.  Number 8 asked why.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“If you press that button, someone gets hurt.”

 

No response.  Just the hollow eyes, not knowing where to look.

 

“If you press that button twice, someone gets seriously hurt.  But you get ice cream.”

 

“I don’t want to press the button.”

 

“Then no ice cream.”

 

“I don’t care.  Fuck you.”

 

Then there was Number 8…

 

“If you press that button, someone gets hurt.”

 

“Alright.”

 

“If you press that button twice, someone gets seriously hurt.  But you get ice cream.”

 

“I don’t like ice cream.  What happens if I press it three times?”

 

“What would you like to happen?”

 

“Can I choose who gets hurt?”

 

The man had grown to like this Number 8.  He wondered how long she would be around.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Number 3 is gone after an extended breakdown.  She kept repeating that she wanted an apple.  She screamed for the apple.  When she was a girl, her mom used to give her an apple after school.  All she wanted was an apple.  An apple.  The episode began before lunch and was still going on when he got back, only at a much more shrill pitch.  Number 3 was done.  They carried her brain-fried remains from the cell.

 

The man found himself watching Number 8 more than the others.  He knew he wasn’t allowed to do that, but he couldn’t help it.  He was alarmed to discover that he was doing it without realizing it.  He silently promised himself to correct that in the future.  But he didn’t.  He was fascinated by Number 8…what she did when she wasn’t doing anything.

 

Number 1 isn’t moving.  The man wasn’t sure if she was still responsive.  Sometimes they just shut down for a time.

 

The man told Number 8 that she was the only one who never asked about the voice, and the person who spoke to them.  The man asked her why.  Number 8 simply shrugged.  The man told her the rules stated that no answer meant a 30 degree temperature change, either hot or cold.  Number 8 just grinned.

 

He didn’t put in for the temperature change.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The veins on Number 2’s forehead were bulging.  It seemed like they’d been that way since this morning, and the man wasn’t sure what to make of it.  It looked bad, like his head might explode, or he was on the verge of experiencing some type of aneurism.

 

Number 2 didn’t seem more agitated than his normal state of perpetual agitation.  The man didn’t think he’d ever seen Number 2 smile.  The man asked Number 2 about the worst smell he had ever smelled.  The brief from the envelope instructed this, in hopes of finding a smell even worse for the person.

 

Number 2 said that the worst smell he’d ever smelled was the fur of a manicou being burnt off.  The man inquired further, and learned that a manicou is an animal like a possum.  In Trinidad, people put manicous into a fire to burn off their fur after they’re dead.  Then they can cook and eat them.  They say the manicou’s fur being scorched off is the worst smell in the world.

 

There were alligators in the river where Number 2 played as a child.  He had to dodge them while he played.  Number 2 seems like the toughest one in this batch, the one who’s lived the hardest life.  This would probably lead most people to bet on Number 2 to outlast the others, but the man had been here long enough to know that things rarely worked out that way.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

When they were begging, he almost wanted to inform them that there was very little he could do.  He couldn’t question what was in the envelope next to the chair.  He followed the rules just like everyone else.  He had to.

 

The man turned up the white noise so none of them would realize he was gone while he ran to the bathroom.  It would be about 3 minutes.  It had never been a problem.

 

Shit.  Someone else has lost it.  Every fucking time he leaves the goddamn chair.  These screams had that distinctive last stage pitch.  Number 5.  But he’s hitting his head against the wall, which sadly for him, is not a valid way out, according to the big book.  The man put in for the sedation of Number 5.  Someone needs a rest.  Then the process will continue.

 

The room is dark, except for the small reading light by the God Chair, like a tiny beacon on the black sea.

 

Number 2 is making a stand.  He’s naked, and he’s yelling.  Oh Number 2, that’s so you, the man smiled, watching Number 2 punch the mirror and walls while defiantly shouting.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The coffee was foul.  This whole area was disgusting.  The grunts never cleaned the area around the folding table with the horrible white powder that’s supposed to be milk.  They call it “hazelnut” to try to hide the fact that it tastes like freeze-dried human carcasses.  It doesn’t taste like hazelnut, and it doesn’t seem anything like milk.  Even if it did taste like hazelnut, like this world has seen an actual hazelnut in decades, the man didn’t want any flavoring at all.

 

The girl was starting her shift.  The man smiled at her with his eyes down and they made pleasant small talk in the dark corner.  He liked the girl, but he only saw her in passing when their schedules sometimes crossed.

 

The girl smiled.  Her eyes met his for a fleeting moment, “Sometimes I wonder if we’re the ones they’re really watching…”

 

Number 7 pulled off her own fingernail with her teeth.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

He tried yet another new way to work this morning, a variation of his recent experiments.  He took Cedar Road to a small street called Thorne which led him right onto the 705.  Taking the 705 saved him almost 10 minutes, again.  That was the third time this week.

 

The man was excited, because he thought he’d found his new way to work.

Steve Bevilacqua

Steve Bevilacqua is an author and screenwriter.  He has produced lots of TV shows for places like IFC and Vh1.  A web series that he wrote and directed was nominated for a 2016 Primetime Emmy (Best Short Form Series – it lost.)  Steve is a longtime resident of Venice, CA. 

Bloodlust

She was born a predator, easily catching mice and other pests. She had the skills, but spent most of her time playing, throwing them in the air and holding them in her teeth. There was a simple solution for that: starvation. Let the girl go hungry. Teach her that hunting wasn’t about fun.

Soon, our walls were mouse free. She’d even patrol the garden for squirrels. Once, she took down a groundhog.

I suppose I should’ve stopped her when neighborhood pets disappeared. Someone called the police.

The police are coming, but the blood will never wash from my daughter’s teeth.

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is the writer behind all sorts of work, ranging from dozens of short stories, to a variety of poems, and even a co-written screenplay. He also dabbles in book-length works, and has a YouTube channel reading some of his shorter pieces. When not writing, he’s a gamer, actor, athlete, and coffee enthusiast who probably likes Batman too much.

You can find out more about his work at www.kevinholton.com and support him at www.Patreon.com/TheHoltoning or www.amazon.com/author/KevinHolton.

Sympathy Dish

The widow Lady Adrianna was a woman of exotic tastes. She liked organ meats. Fermented fish entrails in Thai curry, cervelle de veau for calf’s brains, and sweetbreads of lamb pancreas. I ached to sample the mix of flesh and elixirs from her lips. Her husband’s palate was too simple, but he was lean like well-bred swine. After he died, I brought the Lady a sympathy dish. “It’s veal heart,” I said as we dined together. My eyes focused on her pale throat as she ingested the meat, complimented its tenderness. She bit into her husband’s heart again. Swallowed. Smiled.

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of “Love For Slaughter,” has published pieces with Page & Spine, The Literary Hatchet, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II, and she is a contributing editor for the Oddville Press. Find her lurking in graveyards or on Twitter!

In The Woods – On The Hunt

The sound of the crunching leaves could wake the dead. Ken walked through the forest, at night, searching for it. He’d seen it earlier today. It’s unmistakable dank, musky smell could make anyone puke. That smell would give it away at night. His rifle’s strap dug into his shoulder.

Leaves rustled in the distance. Something else was out there. He pointed the flashlight in the direction of the sound. He detected the same smell. It’s close. He readied his rifle. He heard a deep grunt from behind. He turned in time to see Sasquatch rear its arm back and swing.

Pernell Rogers

Pernell Rogers is a product of the supernatural world. In his mind, the real world isn’t real at all. All human motivation is based on fear, and it’s that fear that he tries to expose in his writings.

You can follow his work on Smash Words.

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Liz Butcher

Horror Tree’s very own Liz Butcher, an accomplished author took the time to sit down and be interviewed this time.  We took time to discuss her journey into the world of horror writing.  She has not only been working on her own stories but also working hard putting out quality articles for the amazing readers of Horror Tree.  Without further ado let’s get started.

Derek – I suppose we should start with how did you get into writing horror?

Liz: I don’t think it was a deliberate decision. I’ve always loved horror and it just so happens most of my story ideas are dark and creepy! I do write other genres, but even then they usually have some elements of horror. As a child I’d scare myself reading books on paranormal phenomenon, before reading my first Stephen King book at age 10. I’ve never looked back!

Derek – Is there something that draws you to the horror genre maybe it’s the ghosts, ghouls, or paranormal?

Liz: I’ve had a life-long love-affair with the paranormal, so I definitely lean towards that kind of horror. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a time and place for good zombie or slasher horror! I just lean towards the dark and suspenseful paranormal.

Derek – Alright, so when did you first get published and can you tell us a bit about that experience?

Liz: I was first published in 2015, when my short story, ‘Wrath’ was selected for an anthology called, ‘Lurking in the Deep’. The anthology was published by CHBB and compiled and edited by Jaidis Shaw. An author friend of mine told me about the submission call, and I jumped in with both feet. I still remember when I received the email telling me it was accepted. I was so excited!
I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience. Jaidis was wonderfully professional and very patient with my newbie questions. The other authors in the anthology were also wonderful and supportive of each other—many of who I have been fortunate to work with since.

Derek – At this time, how many stories do you have published and where can our readers find them?

Liz: In current circulation there are seven short stories in various anthologies, with another coming out later this year, as well as a collaborative story due out also. Plus, I am in the editing stages of my own short story collection, After Dark, and finishing up my first novel, Fate Revenge.

Derek – Where do you find your inspiration for your stories?

Liz: I’m one of those fortunate writers that has no shortage of ideas. I find inspiration in things I see or read, from dreams I have, or just from random ideas that pop into my head. I also draw from my love of the paranormal, and from ancient history and mythology. I have an index card box on my desk so every time I get a new idea, I write it down and file it away for later.

Derek – When did you first know that you were going to be a writer?

Liz: Honestly, not until a couple of years ago. I always loved writing stories when I was a child, but stopped writing half-way through high school. I think I was just busy with other things. It wasn’t until I’d finished up at uni and had a bit more free time that I started to get that niggling feeling. I started playing with some ideas and doing a bit of research before I tried my hand at it again. But it really wasn’t until ‘Wrath’ was published that I decided I really wanted to give writing my all.

Derek – As you continue on in your career is there a point where you can look back and say yeah that is the moment that I knew that I was going to make it?

Liz: I’m not there yet! Though I certainly hope I get to that stage! Maybe ask me after my solo projects are released.

Derek – When did you first start writing for Horror Tree?

Liz: It was earlier this year. I have been blessed with a lot of ‘by chance’ occurrences on my writing journey, and I’d just happened along a post from the Horror Tree asking for expressions of interest. I jumped on it and immediately contacted founder, Stuart Conover. He let me conduct an interview for a trial—and I’m still going! When time allows, I also write drabbles for the Horror Tree’s weekly ‘Trembling with Fear’ which showcases drabbles and short stories by horror authors.

Derek – Can you tell our readers about your experience thus far writing for Horror Tree?

Liz: It’s been great! I love personalising interviews to each author, and it’s rewarding when they get a kick out of it. I get to improve my own writing skills while getting to know some fantastic authors. I’ve recently been offered the role of interview coordinator which is exciting!

Derek – So you get to interview all of these amazing authors, what has been one of your most interesting experiences doing the interviews?

Liz: Hands down, it would have to be my interview with Ace Antonio Hall. It was such a fun interview to do and the guy has racked up some serious street cred. I don’t know which fact I fan-girled most over—that he played on a track for NKOTB, or that he works on the set of the show How to Get Away with Murder… Plus he’s just an all-round talent and super nice human!

Derek – How do you find time to balance your personal life, writing your own stories, and still writing for Horror Tree?

Liz: I get up really early, haha! My day usually starts at 4am and I dedicate a couple of hours to my writing life before I either start work, or my daughter wakes up (depending on what day of the week it is). I’m super organized, and schedule time for my Horror Tree interviews, the social media promotions work I do for Juniper Grove Book Solutions, edits on my current WIP’s, writing projects and research.

Derek – Alright so without giving to much away, what projects are you working on currently?

Liz:  I have a short story collection that’s in the editing stages, called After Dark, and working on finishing my first novel, Fates Revenge. I also have a novella on the go called, ‘Leroux Manor’ and am in the researching stage of a serial I’m planning called ‘The Grey’s’.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few short stories released in anthologies this year, with another coming out before the end of the year called ‘Dormir’ which will feature in Twisted II, and a collaborative project I was a part of called ‘Esyld’s Awakening’ for the Collaborative Writing Project.

Derek – Please tell our readers who are your favorite authors and why?

Liz: There’s probably far too many to list here! As a child, my favourite book was ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein, and anything by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Paul Jennings. I then moved on to RL Stine before diving head first into Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Also a big fan of Anne Rice.

Derek – Do your feel that your style is related to the authors that you read?

Liz: Not so much, to be honest! I’m certainly inspired by them, but my writing style is still very much a work in progress.

Derek – So, you use beta readers, can you tell us how that experience has been for you?  Does it help?

Liz: I’ll let you know! This is my first attempt at reaching out for beta readers for my short story collection, and I have been blessed with about half a dozen expressions of interest. I think it will be good insight as to whether there’s elements that don’t work, or if anything needs to be expanded on etc—essentially want to get rid of any hiccups before I attempt to self-publish it.

Derek – Where can our readers get in touch with you if they want to become a beta reader for you?

Liz: They can either DM me on Instagram, Twitter, or my Facebook author page.

Where can our readers follow you on your amazing journey?

Website: http://lizbutcherauthor.wixsite.com/lizbutcher

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizbutcherauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lunaloveliz

Instagram: @lunaloveliz

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13845425.Liz_Butcher

Derek –: Thank you so much for your time.  It has been such a pleasure working thus far. I am excited for our future here at Horror Tree.  I am really looking forward to following you and your career path.  I see great things in the future for you.   

Taking Submissions: Mind Candy

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

Accepting submissions for the anthology Mind Candy.

Payment for acceptance will be 6 cents a word. Plan is to accept submission on this until Jan 15th 2018. 

    I will be looking for original short speculative fiction, up to 5000 words, that in some way address the intricacies of the mind. Mind control, mind augmentation, multiple memories, mental powers, or any other idea where mental oddities are key to the story line. I prefer science fiction, but will consider any speculative fiction that is not too depressing, violent or graphic. Email submissions to [email protected]

 I prefer .doc or .rtf, will accept .docx Standard double space formatting. Please include contact information (name, address, email, and phone) on both the email and in the header of the work. No simultaneous submissions. 

Depending on submission quantities, reprints may be accepted after October 31st.

After the anthology is completed I plan on accepting proposals for completed full length works, (100 to 200 or so pages/ approx. 30,000 to 60,000 words)

While I specialize in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and these genres will generally get the fastest attention, I am open to any type of writing.

Via: Myriad Paradigm.

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