Trembling With Fear 03/14/21

It’s raining as I write this, yesterday was beautiful blue sky – oh, the joys of spring but our walk was quieter as kids had gone back to school and weren’t out and about. We’ve also got a date for our first covid jabs, not til end of March and bizarrely we can’t get it in our home city, instead have to travel to Portsmouth but we’re booked in so it’s a positive and we can’t complain too much. If we’ve moved by then (still progressing at snail’s pace but moving forward), we might have to reschedule but hopefully that’ll be easily sorted.

In terms of writing, I’ve got back into writing the novel I created last NaNoWriMo and having fun with that. I’m also working on a short story submission and I received a rejection for another short. The latter still happens quite frequently and is pretty much a given in our trade so I’m not going to let it get to me too much. I was able to temper the rejection downer with seeing the cover for Samantha Kolesnik’s Far From Home anthology (Off Limits Press) in which I have a story. This will be released on May 15th which is my birthday so it’s a wonderful present! Horror Tree is still my go-to for call outs and it’s where I found that one.

Update on last weekend’s purchase of TWF contributor Kevin M. Folliard’s dark fantasy novella, Tower of Raven – it is excellent. I’m now reading John F. Leonard’s The Dead Boxes Archive and really enjoying that.

Editorial plea again. PLEASE READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. I’m still getting stories exceeding our flash wordcounts. I’m also receiving stories sent in the body of the email (don’t) and also the use of spaces instead of the paragraph first line indent. I would also suggest considering the content of your stories. We are a horror site yes, but we carry a certain rating and if something is extremely explicit, it probably won’t get published. Nor do we publish stories which are simply gratuitous in terms of violence and/or direct this violence towards children and women. The trope of the bound and beaten woman is a bit wearing to me personally. I would also expect as a minimum, something in the cover letter to say who you are (your name!) and the bio we request. Receiving a story attached to a blank email is hard to respond to. Ok, lecture over! Hate having a moan but …

Our first story this week in Trembling with Fear is Family Recipe by Kevin Warmerdam and is a neatly-told tale of consequences, of things implied rather than explicitly stated. Also might make you think twice before you try out an old recipe – especially one that’s been in the family a long time!

The Lovely Alessandra by Hillary Lyon is a fun take on where the development of robotics could take you. Great gossipy tone in this one which made me smile.

The Dancing King by Scarlet Berry has some lovely imagery and I enjoyed the almost fairy tale quality to the story.

Turn and Face the Strange by Patrick Winters is a perfect little story describing a gradual transformation. Patrick is someone I regard as an absolute master of the drabble. His writing never feels forced or stereotypical, it’s always smooth, nuanced and well-paced.


Take care


Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Before I get into Horror Tree and Trembling With Fear this week, I’d like to send a personal thank you to a TWF contributor who you have probably seen here a ‘few’ times in the past, and today’s drabbles – Patrick Winters. My personal writing has taken a huge hit this last year and while I have been able to finish a few short stories and edits on one of my novels, I’ve mainly been working on Drabbles as of late. I’ve been trying to continue getting something written and quite often this is all the time and brain capacity I can put towards my own writing. He recently pointed me to Black Ink Fiction where some of my Drabbles will be coming out from later this year.

On to Trembling With Fear – We’re inching ever closer to our next releases! My goal here in the next week is to put together our back cover text and that will put us almost where we need to be in order to move forward on finalizing covers – WEWT!

Not much new on the horizon for Horror Tree. I’m still a couple of weeks away from starting to work on the new layout and that will be our next big push. More news to come!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Family Recipe by Paul Warmerdam

Gratefully, Yvella opened her eyes and tore herself away from the spinning cacophony that had been her fever dream. It was the cat that broke the spell of sleep, leaping on the foot of the bed and treading its way up over the covers. She was worried that the ragged old tabby might turn as sick as she was. It got at the dishes before Yvella had a chance to clean up.

Already, the details of her nightmare were fading. There had been strange voices, she knew that much, but she could not remember what they were saying.

What a day, she thought, and to end it on giving herself food poisoning. The family hadn’t all been in the same room together for years now. The old house by the bayou had reeked of childhood memories for all of them. After that awkward service, all Yvella wanted was a way to do her grandmother’s memory a little justice.

Then there it was, at the bottom of the last box of her old things. It was a little leather notebook. There was no title page, only a drawing of a small black rooster. It was full of recipes. ‘Gombo’ was the word Yvella stopped on while flipping through the pages. She remembered that soup. Here was a memory to redeem the day. The handwriting was unmistakably her grandmother’s. No one else’s was so undecipherable. ‘For Mystères, to nourisse the Soulles,’ the page promised.

Yvella had to stop by more than a few markets on her way home to get the ingredients right. She wondered if grandmother received the same odd looks every time she wanted to make that soup for the family.

‘Fowl: cook the bonnes, keep the blood four latre,’ in hindsight that’s probably what got the cat’s attention. ‘Shrimp: leave headde, taille, veinne for favour,’ was probably what had made her sick. Yvella wasn’t going to go near seafood again for a while.

She had closed her eyes again. The bedroom was spinning and the voices started up again. “It’s all going to be fine, child.” It was soothing and familiar.

Yvella thought she was going to throw up again and forced herself to sit up. This time, the voices didn’t go away. “You’re going to be taken care of now, child.” It came from inside the room. “You already took them inside of you.”

Yvella raised a hand to cover her mouth. “You will feel better soon,” the voice finished, then started to pur.

Paul Warmerdam

Paul Warmerdam is a Dutch-American who has recently gotten hooked on submitting short stories and wonders how far he can push his luck. He
lives in the Netherlands, where there’s plenty of rainy hours shut indoors with a story in mind.


The Lovely Alessandra

“She’s an older model, but sturdy . . .”

Mel interrupted the dealer. “The old rock star groupie model. Saw tons of those back in the day. Advertised as trashy guilt-free fun.”

“Ah, true, but this one’s newsworthy! Thus, she’s a bit more expensive.” The dealer smiled. “Note the single vermilion streak in her hair.”

Mel leaned closer to the bot, then jolted back, eyes wide. “She’s the one that . . .?”

The dealer nodded. “With the champagne bottle.”

“And the butcher knife!” Mel whispered.

“Rock ‘n Roll Massacre, the media called it.”

“Yeah,” Mel mused. “Perfect wedding present for my ex. So, how much?”

Hillary Lyon

Hillary Lyon founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared lately in 365tomorrows, Black Petals, Yellow Mama, Amongst Friends (Australian Bush-Fire Charity Anthology), and  Strange Girls: Women in Horror. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines.

The Dancing King

Marc was floating on air. He was the Dancing King! His belles of the ball, bound and suspended from the ceiling, with grins literally pasted on their faces, had been dying to dance with him.

He could feel their eyes upon him. They had been used to adorn his crown. Marc paraded around the ballroom in his blood splattered clothes and stopped in front of a garishly dressed woman. He took her into his arms. Swaying to the music, he hummed in her ear, squeezing her tightly until she became breathless.

Releasing her, Marc smiled. Others were waiting their turn.

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married over forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She writes for the joy of it and has contributed to Trembling With Fear.

Turn and Face the Strange

He’s just going through changes, Brandon’s father had been saying. Every teen does.

But Brandon knew there was more to it. Something to do with the night he and Kelly made out, and she’d nibbled on his neck.

He’d become more of a night owl, sneaking out with Kelly most evenings and getting into trouble.

He’d gotten stronger. Quicker. Paler.

He was less squeamish than he once was. A lot less. And blood. It used to taste like copper. Now, it tasted like cherries.

Then there were the dreams. Of breaking into strange homes. Hearing screams. Feeding on . . . cherries.

Changes . . .

Patrick Winters

Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. His work has now been featured throughout several magazines and anthologies. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know:

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