Category Archives: Fiction

Thankful for Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2017

Welcome back to this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of very cool writing opportunities this November, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, then perhaps one of these markets will be the perfect place for it!

As always, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets. I’m merely spreading the word! Any questions you might have about any of these submission calls should be directed to the respective editors.

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

One Story
Payment: $500/flat
Length: 3,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: November 14th, 2017
What They Want: Open to general fiction submissions.
Find the details here.

Luna Station Quarterly
Payment: $5/flat
Length: 500 to 7,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2017
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative fiction written by women-identified authors.
Find the details here.

Behind the Mask: Tales from the Id
Payment: $50/flat (AUD)
Length: 6,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: November 30th, 2017
What They Want: Open to horror fiction with the theme of masks.
Find the details here.

Enchanted Conversation
Payment: $30/flat for fiction; $10/flat for poetry
Length: 700 to 3,000 words for fiction; any length for poetry
Deadline: November 30th, 2017
What They Want: A fairy tale-themed publication that is open to short fiction and poetry. This month’s theme is elves and the shoemaker.
Find the details here.

Apparition Literary Magazine
Payment: .01/word for fiction; $10/flat for poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction; up to 2 pages for poetry
Deadline: November 30th, 2017
What They Want: Open to original speculative fiction. This month’s theme is apparitions.
Find the details here.

Tales from the Lake, Volume 5
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 1st, 2017
What They Want: Open to non-themed horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW Now Available for Pre-order!

So you may have heard (possibly from this very blog) that I have a novella coming out later this year. I am so super stoked for this. Pretty Marys All in a Row is my first work of longer fiction to makes its debut in the world, and that is completely thrilling and daunting and all sorts of other intense emotions. *cue confetti*

This particular story has lived with me for a long time. It revolves around the Marys of folklore and urban legends (think Bloody Mary and Resurrection Mary), and deals both with their origins in our nightmares as well as what happens when we start to forget them. I’ve loved urban legends since I was a kid, and I’ve wanted to write about them for years, so to be able to fold that love into my work in fairy tales, horror, and dark fantasy is a bit of a dream come true.

Another dream come true? The cover for the novella. Let’s take a gander at it, shall we?

Pretty Marys All in a RowSeriously. That’s my cover. I don’t know how I got so lucky. After adoring the cover for my collection, I really thought there was no chance I’d love my second cover just as much, but hey, here we are, and I couldn’t be happier. Major shout-out to Gawki for their stunning artwork. I honestly can’t swoon enough.

We’re in the home stretch before Pretty Marys is unleashed on readers. The tentative release date is November 28th, though that date may shift a bit as the cover is finalized with the printer. Otherwise, the novella is ready for the world. You can pre-order the book now over at the Broken Eye Books website, and you’ll also receive an advance digital copy.

To say I’m elated and honored about the release of this novella is such an understatement. It’s been an incredibly fantastic process working with editor Scott Gable of Broken Eye Books. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: I am so fortunate to work with such great editors and presses. How one writer got as lucky as me, I’ll never know, but I’m thankful for it every day.

As we close in on the release date, I’ll of course be sharing more updates about the novella. In the meantime, if you’re on Goodreads, then feel free (*nudge nudge*) to add Pretty Marys All in a Row to your bookshelf. It does a writer’s heart good.

Happy reading!

The Darkest Hour: Interview with Mike Thorn

Welcome back! Today, I’m pleased to spotlight author Mike Thorn. Mike is a rapidly rising star in the horror genre. He reviews regularly at Unnerving Magazine under his column, Thorn’s Thoughts, and his debut collection, Darkest Hours, is due out in November.

Recently, Mike and I discussed his genesis as an author as well as what his plans are for the future.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Mike ThornI think I started writing stories around the age of six. I wrote my first novel when I was nine or ten — it was a long and totally unreadable rip-off of both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

There are so, so many writers I respect and admire… but some of the people who come immediately to mind are Kathe Koja, Herman Melville, Stephen King, Virginia Woolf, Eden Robinson, Nelly Arcan, Jim Thompson, William Faulkner, Hubert Selby Jr., William Blake, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Aickman, Flannery O’Connor, Georges Bataille, Don DeLillo, H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti. If you asked me tomorrow, I’d probably give you a slightly different list! There are too many to name.

What first drew you to horror fiction? Do you have a favorite horror film or horror story that really got you into the genre?

Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was probably my first taste of adult horror fiction. As a kid, I loved reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books (and actually, I’ve recently discovered that some of them hold up quite well!). I think I was interested in fantasy before I got into horror fiction — C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were major discoveries for me as a young reader.

Some of my favorite horror filmmakers are John Carpenter, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, David Lynch, Sergio Martino, Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, Rob Zombie, Wes Craven, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Ronny Yu and Mario Bava.

Congratulations on your forthcoming collection! What was the process like putting together the stories for the table of contents?

Thank you so much! Congratulations likewise on And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the best debut collections I’ve ever read. It’s a stunning book.

I found that building the table of contents for Darkest Hours was an interesting process in terms of trying to establish some kind of tonal shape or rhythm. When I write stories in isolation, that’s almost always how they exist in my mind — as vacuum-sealed pieces with their own individual lives and forms. But compiling this collection brought to my attention the ways in which things I’d written over the course of two years did and did not connect with one another. When I first read over the manuscript I thought, Damn, this is too relentlessly bleak — nobody is going to want to read this. So I tried to slip in some of my more satirical, less overtly brutal stories at key moments throughout the book.

Darkest HoursYou write an in-depth review column at Unnerving Magazine. What inspired you to get started with reviewing, and how has reviewing shaped your own approach to writing?

For a long time, I wanted to be a film critic… I started writing reviews in high school and I still write on cinema periodically. But in my post-secondary education I studied literature. I decided recently that it might be interesting to put time and attention toward writing in-depth reviews of new horror fiction. It has now kind of taken precedence over my film-related writing.

As for how it shapes my own approach to writing: I don’t think it does in any conscious way. When I’m writing fiction, I’m usually zeroed in on the specifics of the stories themselves: What do the characters want? What is the conflict here? Am I using my setting effectively? Why do I have so many parenthetical phrases in this paragraph? All of that fun stuff.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: plotting new stories, crafting characters, or polishing an almost finished piece?

Probably that final sprint — polishing off an almost finished piece. There’s something so satisfying about that last ironing out of details, when I can finally say that I’ve done everything within my power to make it the best that I can.

Out of your own published work, do you have a favorite piece?

That’s a difficult question! I’m pleased with “Fear and Grace,” which is being published for the first time in Darkest Hours. It’s not a straight genre story, but it deals with horrific incidents and situations. I wanted to represent some of the disturbing nuances of power and human hierarchies. I also wanted to write carefully about trauma and the exploitation of empathy. The story started as a simple situation: two people reconnect in a public place. Observant bystanders might sense some vague unease between these people, but for the most part the two characters’ vexed histories and inner worlds belong only to them. I asked myself, What might this encounter be like? How can I dramatize that tension between external perception and interior conflict? It’s a personal and uncomfortable piece, but I think I said what I wanted to say with it.

I like something that Justin Broadrick often says about Godflesh – I’m paraphrasing, but he describes this brutal music that he makes as defensive rather than offensive. That’s what I’m usually after – not an “assault,” but an attempt to ward off the things that makes me anxious and afraid. This is something I tried very hard to accomplish with “Fear and Grace,” and I think I got as close as I can get.

What projects are you currently working on?

I just finished writing a new short story, and now I’m getting ready to dive into research for my next novel. I know it’s going to deal with that recent historical period of Satanic panic, and will also probably involve the American death metal movement that surfaced in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. A lot of the details are still unclear to me, but I’m enjoying this total openness while it lasts.

Big thanks to Mike Thorn for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him on Facebook and Twitter as well as on his author website.

Happy reading!

A Fall of Fiction: Submission Roundup for October 2017

Welcome back to this month’s Submission Roundup! There are some very cool writing opportunities in the coming weeks, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, then hopefully, you’ll find a place in the list below to send it!

But first a quick note: As always, I’m not a representative for any of these publications; I’m just spreading the word! So if you have any questions, please direct them to the respective publications. (Seriously, it seems silly that I always include this disclaimer, but I forgot once and ended up receiving messages demanding answers about the specifics of the submission calls, so yeah. Disclaimer now obligatory.)

And onward now to this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: Rolling deadline, but submissions for the next issue close on October 15th, 2017
What They Want: Open to speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

Riddled with Arrows
Payment: .03/word (minimum $5; maximum $25)
Length: up to 1,500 words
Deadline: October 21st, 2017
What They Want: Open to horror-themed metafiction, poetry, and art. This month’s theme relates to Halloween.
Find the details here.

Fiyah: Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
Payment: Poetry $50; Short fiction $150; Novelettes $300
Length: 2,000-7,000 for short fiction; up to 15,000 words for novelettes
Deadline: October 31st, 2017
What They Want: Easily the best new publication of 2017, Fiyah is producing some of the top speculative fiction you’ll find in today’s market (Case in point: the always awesome Eden Royce’s fantastic story in Issue 2). For writers looking to submit here, the editors are seeking stories from authors from the African diaspora and the African continent. This issue’s theme is Ahistorical Blackness.
Find the details here.

NonBinary Review
Payment: .01/word fiction and nonfiction; $10/flat poetry; $25/flat visual art
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2017
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction submissions based on the theme of… wait for it… We Have Always Lived in the Castle (i.e. the all-time favorite book of this particular blogger right here). It doesn’t appear that I’ll have time to submit something, so please send in a submission of your own, will you? Do Merricat and me proud!
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

 

Bold and Bizarro: Interview with Autumn Christian

Welcome back! This week’s interview is with the talented Autumn Christian. Autumn is the author of The Crooked God Machine and We are Wormwood, and she recently received a Wonderland Book Award nomination for her collection, Ecstatic Inferno. In addition, her short stories have appeared in Eternal Frankenstein and A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession, among other publications.

Recently, Autumn and I discussed her inspiration as a writer as well as how she was first drawn into the worlds of horror and weird fiction.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Ecstatic InfernoI decided I wanted to be a writer pretty much when I started reading around 6 years old. I’d never experienced something as amazing as the experience of reading, and immediately wanted to plunge myself into that fantastical world forever. It was a total “Plato’s Cave” experience. Some of my favorite writers are Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Tom Piccirilli, Shirley Jackson, Amy Hempel, Brian Evenson, Faulkner, and Nabokov.

As a storyteller, what draws you to horror and weird fiction? Do you remember the first horror film you saw, or the first horror story you read?

Horror and weird fiction excites me. I’ve always been attracted to the strange and unusual. It seemed to be a sort of gateway to deep mysteries about human nature and our universe. Infinity and possibility are horrifying. Our deepest secrets and impulses are horrifying. I think through horror, we learn more about who we truly are and what we’re capable of.

The first movie that legitimately horrified me was the 1964 stop-motion Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I used to hide behind the couch when Bumble the Abominable Snowman came onto the screen. I’d dream about him lurking outside as I hid in the attic. If you look on YouTube for the Bumble scenes, you can hear that his roar sound FX is actually truly terrifying. I know that the first horror book was something I read by R.L Stine. I think it was a choose your own adventure called “Don’t Feed the Vampire.” It had an illustration of Fifi The Vampire Poodle on the cover.

At your blog, you do a series of nonfiction articles about your experiences as a writer. On average, how does one of your articles develop? Are the posts mostly extemporaneous, or do you often spend days or weeks ahead of time developing a concept for your blog? Or perhaps is it a bit of both?

I started writing these long non-fiction articles as Facebook posts a few years back. I was a very confused and lost person with deep depression and trauma issues, trying to fumble my way through the world (Like many people). When I first began writing those posts, it was the beginning of me piecing together a cogent understanding of myself and how I related to other people. People seemed to appreciate my writing, but I didn’t write those posts to educate or talk to other people. It was really me trying to communicate with myself, and solidify concepts that’d been swirling around in my brain into something concrete so that I could have a more purposeful and enjoyable life. I started posting them publicly though, because you know, I’m a writer and I have an ego problem.

I will usually write these posts in one sitting, but oftentimes they are concepts that I’ve been contemplating for weeks or months, and then will suddenly “click” into place enough for me to write. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of inspiration from a conversation or something that happened in real life, or something that I read. (I suppose like any other idea.)

The Crooked God MachineYou’ve written both long and short fiction. Do you prefer one length over another? Also, what helps you to determine whether a story should be a shorter form or novel length?

Writing a short story is like enjoying a relaxing night alone in a secluded cabin. Writing a novel is like hiking the Appalachian trail, except it takes longer and it’s bloodier. At the end of a novel, you’re not going to be the same person you were at the beginning, and the journey is going to change you in ways you aren’t yet prepared for.

The format depends on the complexity of the idea, and how much I’m willing to explore it. If I’m going to spend a year or more with a singular idea, I want it to be one I’m genuinely attached to.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: plotting a story, developing voice, or establishing setting?

My favorite part of the writing process is when the outside world becomes quiet and my being is interlaced completely with the keyboard and that singular moment of story.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

Right now it’s “Sewn into Her Fingers” that’s in the anthology Eternal Frankenstein that came out last year from Word Horde. It was the first thing I wrote in years that I felt was truly the next step in my evolution as a writer.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a novel called The Edgar Allan Poe Simulator, which is about Poe, video games, life and death, and interdimensional portals. I’m also finishing up a short story about a nymphomaniac who has the magic power to heal trauma through sex.

Big thanks to Autumn Christian for being this week’s author interview. Find her online at her website and her Amazon Author page as well as on Facebook and Twitter!

Happy reading!

A Fairy Tale Ending: Interview with Carina Bissett

Welcome back! Today’s featured author is the talented Carina Bissett. Carina is an accomplished writer, editor, and scholar whose focus is often in the realm of dark fantasy and fairy tales. She has a new story slated for release in the Hath No Fury anthology from Ragnarok, and she is also currently instructing a course on monstrous women in literature (and what could be cooler than that?).

Recently, Carina and I discussed her work as a writer and editor, as well as her plans for the future.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Carina BissettI wish I had a definitive moment when I actually made this decision. Books have always been at the center of my life, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I actually started writing stories of my own. The stories have always been there; getting them on paper was the hard part. It wasn’t until I first read The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter that things started to click for me. Other writers that influenced my early work are Terri Windling, Margaret Atwood, and Liz Hand. Some of my favorite working writers today include Angela Slatter, Genevieve Valentine, Kate Forsyth, Damien Angelica Walters, and Kristi DeMeester. The talent out there is tremendous and I absolutely love reading stories that inspire me to work harder on my own body of work.

Your work is often influenced by fairy tales. What initially drew you as a storyteller in this direction? Do you remember the first fairy tale you ever read, and do you have a personal favorite?

Fairy tales are the foundation on which I’ve built my life. In fact, I still have my first childhood book of fairy tales; the cover is tattered, the binding is broken, and it’s held together with rotting rubber bands. Even though it should be thrown away, I can’t bear to be parted from it. This version is not the clean version so many people equate with childhood. I knew early on about the bloody, dark side of these stories. During the course of my lifetime, I have survived trauma after trauma after trauma, and it was fairy tales that helped me to survive. The first fairy tale I read was “Snow-White and Red-Rose.” (I still have the Golden Book, which was illustrated by Marjorie Cooper and sold with the cover price of 49 cents.) But as an adult and a domestic violence survivor, “Bluebeard” is at the top of my list. Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” is one of my all-time favorite re-tellings, but I also love “The Maiden Thief” by Melissa Mead and “The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nalo Hopkinson. They are both gorgeous renditions of a truly horrific tale.

Congratulations on your recent acceptance into the Hath No Fury anthology! What can you tell us about your story that will be included in the table of contents?

Thank you! “A Seed Planted,” the story selected for inclusion in this amazing anthology, is a feminist “Jack and the Beanstalk”–“Rappaccini’s Daughter” mash-up with a science fiction slant. I started this piece in October 2015 after a floating city was spotted hovering in the clouds above Yueyang, China. It was a mirage, albeit a superior one falling in the category of a fata morgana, but I liked the wilder claims of a portal opening to another dimension. This and my research at the time on poison girls, the vishakanya from Hindu mythology, resulted in the first draft of this particular story.

You recently served as an editor for a special issue at NonBinary Review. How, if at all, has your work as an editor shaped your writing, and vice versa?

In the past, I’ve critiqued any number of stories, something I feel has been beneficial as I continue to work on my own craft. I thought editing the NonBinary Review issue based on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen would be a similar experience. I was wrong. There were more than 200 submissions to be read and sorted and read and sorted over and over again, an experience that has given me new appreciation for all of the first readers and editors working out there. Not only was the process about selecting the best pieces submitted, but it was also about striking the right balance to create a certain flow in the issue. As much as I hated it, there were some brilliant submissions that I just couldn’t accept because they just didn’t fit into the whole picture. Although there wasn’t any particular story that I feel has influenced my own stylistic tendencies, I think that by reading quality writing, I continue to grow in my own work. I also believe there is much to be learned from stories that don’t quite work. When I found myself rolling my eyes over adjective heavy prose or nodding off while trying to read a piece that seemed to drag on forever, it served as a reminder to keep an eye out for similar problems that might occur in my own stories.

You are the instructor for an upcoming workshop on monstrous women in literature. How did you go about developing this class, and what are some of the required readings for the course?

I have spent a lifetime studying myth and fairy tales, which are populated with monstrous women and women monsters. The concept for this workshop began more than a year and a half ago when I realized that my protagonists were invariably women in distress, women who overcame trauma by monstrous means. Once I started collating my knowledge, a pattern emerged and I winnowed it down from there. The amount of material is tremendous, so I had to break the course into two parts. This semester I’m focusing on the following categories: Great Goddesses of Death and Destruction, Matriarchal Monsters and First Females, Wicked Queens and Bloody Crowns, Witchy Women and Enchanted Attacks, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, and Lesbian Vampires and Lost Souls. Each module includes source material, re-tellings, academic papers, symbolism, writing prompts, discussion questions, an image gallery, and other resources. For instance, in the first session, which was set aside for introductions and instructions, we read and discussed academic discourse on transgressive literature and a few select pieces of fiction including “Given the Advantage of the Blade” by Genevieve Valentine, “eyes I dare not meet in dreams” by Sunny Moraine, and “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” by Damien Angelica Walters. I also offered access to several journal articles for writers looking to dig a little deeper. The actual modules are a much more in-depth exploration on the topics presented and include both required reading and optional reading assignments. At the end of the workshop, participants will have written six stories, two to three of which will receive an additional critique as portfolio pieces.

What projects are you currently working on?

In addition to running the online workshops at The Storied Imaginarium (Monstrous Women: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Magic and Intersections: Nature and Myth), I am working on the third semester of my MFA in creative writing at Stonecoast. I’m thrilled to be working with the award-winning poet Cate Marvin. In addition to the drafting of five new short stories and 20 new poems, I will be working on an academic paper focusing on assembled and disassembled women in literature and film. It’s an exciting project and I can’t wait to dig into the research.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

I was involved in a nasty bicycle accident last June and I’m only now recovering from the traumatic brain injury I suffered in addition to the physical injuries (six surgeries and counting), which is why I haven’t written much over the last year. However, I did manage to write “Serpents and Toads,” a Faustian re-telling of “Diamonds and Toads,” which was published this spring in Enchanted Conversations. As a woman who’s struggled with weight for the most part of my life (swinging back and forth from anorexia to obesity), I found it a cathartic experience.

Where can we find you online?

I have published online with NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, The Horror ‘Zine, and a smattering of other publications, but most of these represent my older work. My newer pieces, written since my accident, have a decidedly different style that leans heavily into the realm of fabulism, Links to my stories that were published online can be found at my website at https://carinabissett.com/stories/.

Big thanks to Carina Bissett for being part of this week’s author interview!

Happy reading!

Never and Always: Interview with Desirina Boskovich

Welcome back! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author Desirina Boskovich. Desirina’s work has appeared in numerous outlets including Clarkesworld, Nightmare, and Lightspeed, among others. Earlier this summer, her new novella, Never Now Always, debuted from Broken Eye Books.

Recently, Desirina and I discussed her evolution as an author as well as her inspiration for Never Now Always.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

DesirinaI first decided to become a writer at age 5. I think I had just discovered chapter books. I don’t quite remember how I learned the term “writer” – maybe I asked my mom where books came from – but somehow I found out about the job title and instantly decided I would become that.

Favorite authors… there are the classics such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ursula LeGuin, Shirley Jackson, William Gibson, Jeanette Winterson, David Mitchell. In the past few months I’ve been reading the crap out of some page-turners, which seem to be just what I need in these trying times. I am loving Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, Ruth Rendell and others in the thriller/mystery genre.

What draws you to speculative fiction? Do you remember the first speculative story you ever read?

The first speculative story I read was definitely The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, followed by the rest of the Narnia books. My parents read a few of these to me and my sister before I was old enough to read them myself and I read the rest as soon as I could (probably just after I decided to become a writer). I did not have a good childhood and these books were my comfort and escape. I’ve written elsewhere about my love for those books and the influence they’ve had on me. They definitely imparted a love for the weird, fantastical and uncanny.

I always gravitated toward science fiction and fantasy as a young reader. One book that I still remember is This Star Shall Abide by Sylvia Engdahl. That story blew my mind.

I think now I’m drawn to speculative fiction for the same reasons I’ve always been – my underlying conviction that the world we see is a very small sliver of what is, that we’re sleepwalking, mostly, and the universe is vast and terrifying and beautiful and much stranger than we could possibly imagine. I want a piece of that, as much as I can find it. And often it feels to me that the language of magic, of fantasy, of horror, of the weird, is truer and more familiar to me as a depiction of my life than anything that pretends to be “realistic.”

Never Now AlwaysWhat was the inspiration behind Never Now Always? As you were writing the early drafts, did that initial vision evolve, or did the finished story match how you first imagined the novella?

I started with this idea that I wanted to write about something I personally find unsettling, even horrifying. What I thought about then was the horror of trying to hold onto an important part of my mental landscape, a memory or a story or a knowledge about myself, and not being able to. Knowing I would lose it, or knowing I’ve lost it, and the powerlessness of that, the invasion, the loss. So I ran through a few scenarios and ended up with this one. I had the basic outline of the novella before I started drafting. I think the finished story turned out pretty close to that, except it took me a long time to find a language that felt natural to my characters and their world.

You’ve written both short and long fiction. What factors help you to determine what length a project should be?

I think when I write short fiction I’m writing toward a single powerful image or emotion or scene – sometimes the ending, not always. The rest of the story is designed to support that, to bring it about. I want it to be short because I don’t want to waste any words getting to that moment of power.

With a novel, I start with a set-up that intrigues me and I see where it goes. I usually don’t know what the end will be. So I have to write a while to find my way there.

In your work, you’ve explored themes that focus on identity, loss, and childhood. What draws you to these ideas in particular, and are these the themes that you see guiding your work in the future?

I grew up in an abusive home and my childhood was traumatic. I think from my earliest I’ve been trying to navigate this great loss at the center of it all – a life lived without the anchor of safety in childhood, of parental love. It is a great loss because it’s something that I think every human demands instinctually, from the moment we’re born or perhaps before, we want our parents to love us and make us safe. You can grow up without it but you know always that you missed out on something irreplaceable. And that, I guess, feeds into identity. I am who I am because of that past, in ways good and bad. I try to lean into the good and I do my best to leave behind the bad.

I think my work will always center on these themes, but hopefully I’ll find new ways to explore them. Lately I’ve become obsessed with psychological thrillers about women, that explore family dysfunction and buried traumas through the framework of suspense, danger and bloodshed. I really want to write one soon and I think that’s a very interesting way to delve into the same ideas.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

One is “The Island,” published in Nightmare Magazine, which explores the themes mentioned above. Another is the more recent “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh” from F&SF, which is something I really pushed and stretched myself to write.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am halfway through the second draft of a novel, which I hope will be finished soon. It’s weird science fiction that’s a little bit cyberpunk and a little bit eco-apocalypse.

I am also collaborating with Jason Heller on a nonfiction book titled Starships & Sorcerers: The Secret History of Science Fiction, which will be published by Abrams Books. The book will be illustrated and contain tons of gorgeous imagery, and contributions from a bunch of very smart people, too.

Tremendous thanks to Desirina Boskovich for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at her author site as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy reading!

PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW, My Debut Novella Coming Soon from Broken Eye Books

You might have seen the announcement earlier this week on the Broken Eye Books website, but if not, then allow me to share a very exciting update: my debut novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, is slated for release later this year!

Inspired by the Marys of folklore, this novella is part fairy tale, part horror story, and part one of those ideas that has lived with me for years (and I’m so happy to have finally been able to get it all down on paper). In this writer’s personal opinion, Pretty Marys is among the very, very best things I’ve ever created, so I’m thrilled that it will soon be shared with the world.

And here’s the official description to give you an even better idea of what it’s all about!

You’ll find her on a lonely highway, hitchhiking at midnight. She calls herself Rhee, but everyone else knows her by another name: Resurrection Mary. And when she’s transported home each night to a decrepit mansion on a lane to nowhere, she’s not alone.

In the antique mirror, call her name three times, and Bloody Mary will appear. Outside, wandering through a garden of poisonous flowers is Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, a nursery rhyme come to gruesome life. Downstairs is another jump-rope rhyme—Mary Mack, forever conscripted to build her own coffin. And brooding in the corner with her horse skull is the restless Mari Lwyd.

They are the Marys, the embodiment of urban legend and what goes bump in the night. Every evening, they gather around the table and share nightmares like fine wine, savoring the flavors of those they’ve terrified.

But other than these brief moments together, the Marys are alone, haunting a solitary gloom that knows them better than they know themselves. That’s because they don’t remember who they were before—or even if there was a before. And worst of all, they don’t know how to escape this fate.

That is, until a moment of rage inspires Rhee to leap from the highway—and into the mirror with Bloody Mary. Suddenly, the Marys are learning how to move between their worlds, all while realizing how much stronger they are together.

But just when freedom is within their reach, something in the gloom fights back—something that isn’t ready to let them go. Now with her sisters in danger of slipping into the darkness, Rhee must unravel the mystery of who the Marys were before they were every child’s nightmare. And she’ll have to do it before what’s in the shadows comes to claim her for its own.

Broken Eye BooksIf you want to read more about the book and my inspiration in developing it, then be sure to head over to the Broken Eye Books site for the official announcement! And of course, tremendous thanks to editor Scott Gable for taking on this project!

Now as we move toward the fall release date, Patreon supporters of Broken Eye Books will receive the ebook first (likely in early September) with a wide release to everyone else down the road. So that means if you’re really eager to read Pretty Marys All in a Row along with all the other great releases available and forthcoming from Broken Eye Books, then consider becoming a supporter of their Patreon.

And naturally, expect me to be discussing Pretty Marys a whole lot more in the upcoming months. I can reveal that I’ve already seen a mock-up sketch of the tentative cover, and it’s incredibly beautiful and eerie. As soon as it’s finalized, I’ll be sure to share it here and promote the fantastic artist who’s designing it! It’s a very fortunate life to work with so many amazing editors, writers, and artists!

Happy reading!

Beyond the Shores: Interview with Sam Cowan

Welcome back! Today, I’m pleased to spotlight Sam Cowan. Sam is the founder of Dim Shores, a specialty press for chapbooks and other publications that focus on weird fiction. Previous titles have included Anya Martin’s Grass, Kristi DeMeester’s Split Tongues, and Michael Griffin’s An Ideal Retreat, among other releases.

Earlier this month, Sam and I discussed the genesis of Dim Shores as well as the hotly anticipated anthology, Looming Low.

Sam CowanA couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become an editor, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I don’t really consider myself an editor. I select manuscripts, and I proofread and copyedit them, but that’s about it. As for favorite authors, today it’s Thomas Ligotti, William Gibson, S.P. Miskowski, and Cody Goodfellow. It changes day to day, depending on what I’m reading and thinking about.

What inspired you to start Dim Shores? Additionally, what first drew you to weird fiction, and where do you see the genre heading in the future?

I read “The Call of Cthulhu” in an anthology when I was 11 or 12 and it really stood out to me. That got me interested in Lovecraft, and from there it just progressed. I had not heard the term “cosmic horror” but that is what grabbed me so hard, that feeling of insignificance. 30-something years later I attended NecronomiCon Providence 2013 and for the first time met other people, in person, who were interested in the same kinds of things I was. The experience really charged me up.

In 2014, I went to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland (much closer to home for me) and saw many of the same people, and met more new folks. I was friends with Michael Griffin and wanted to do something fun, so I bootlegged all of his stories I could find online and put them in a chapbook, with an introduction by Justin Steele (another convention friend). I enjoyed the process of making the chapbook and started thinking about doing it for real. It took a little while to get going, but Dim Shores debuted in March 2015.

Weird fiction is a broad term and I think it will only get broader. The voices and perspectives will continue to get more diverse, a very exciting prospect for writers and readers alike.

Looming LowLooming Low, the anthology that you’ve co-edited with Justin Steele, is due out later this year. The authors in the table of contents are magnificent, and the cover art is truly stunning. What can readers expect from the stories within?

Thank you! Marcela Bolívar and Yves Tourigny both nailed it. Their styles are very different but both pieces evoke a feeling that something strange and probably dark is about to happen.

Looming Low is unthemed. Our guidelines called for unsettling, literary speculative fiction and that is exactly what we got. The 26 stories vary greatly in length but there is a certain tone that carries through. Some stories could probably be considered dark fantasy, and a couple blur the line between science fiction and horror, but they all exist in the same general emotional space.

Justin and I agreed at the start that we would only include stories that we both felt strongly about. There were a few we disagreed on so they didn’t make it in, but for the most part we were in sync. We planned to whittle the TOC down to 20 entries but couldn’t get lower than 26, there was so many great stories.

The first issue of Resist and Refuse recently debuted through Dim Shores. How has putting together a magazine been the same or different from your usual workload at Dim Shores?

The process and experience of making Resist and Refuse was very different. I usually work on one or two chapbooks at a time, so I’m dealing with two or four people. Resist and Refuse involves about 25 people and was a more difficult project logistically. It was an impulsive reaction to the last election cycle, not just to Trump but to the proudly ignorant movement that gave him the win. I was horrified and wanted to do something and this is what I ended up doing.

It was also quite different in that the page size is considerably larger (8.5×11, chapbooks are 6×9) and there are many more graphics. The chapbooks include three interior illustrations that generally take up a whole page. To make R&R feel more like a periodical I added a bunch of photos, art, and pull quotes to fill up pages. There are still some holes but I’m happy with it.

Split TonguesAs an editor, what advice do you have for writers out there? Anything that you see frequently as an editor that writers shouldn’t do, or perhaps things you see writers doing well that they should keep doing?

As a copyeditor my only suggestions are about technical issues. There is no need to double-space sentences, and for the love of all that’s good in this rotten world, don’t use a tab or even worse a bunch of spaces to indent a paragraph. Word has an auto-indent feature, it’s great. Run spell check before you submit a document. And If you are purposefully using incorrect grammar somewhere, mention that to the editor.

I love your posts on Facebook when you’re editing work for Dim Shores while having a beer at the local pub. That seems very much like you’re doing publishing the right way. So keeping with that theme, have you found that certain writers’ works pair particularly well with certain styles of beer?

I read different types of work but my beer palate is pretty limited. I usually drink IPAs, sometimes red or pale ales, and occasionally I enjoy a good stout. I find that pretty much everything pairs better with everything else when beer is involved. I do sometimes drink scotch when I read Laird Barron though, it just seems right. Reading and editing while eating and drinking at the pub was one of my favorite things. Despite my dutiful patronage, the pub recently closed. I’m waiting to see if someone else opens it back up, fingers crossed.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m in the process of gearing up for NecronomiCon Providence 2017. Looming Low is at the printer now and will debut at the convention. There will be a launch event on Saturday, August 20, at 6:00 with readings by Michael Griffin, Livia Llewellyn, Anya Martin, and Michael Wehunt. I’m still putting together the details for that but should be fun.

After I fulfill all of the Looming Low orders I’ll focus on the next three chapbooks: Coffle (Gemma Files, art by Stephen Wilson), Curses (Anna Tambour, art by Nick Gucker), and Pwdre Ser (Kurt Fawver, art TBD). Coffle is already in progress, most of the layout and the cover art is already done.

Where can we find you online?

Awkwardly, Dim Shores doesn’t have a real website at the moment. I had a WordPress site but destroyed it while trying to add features via code. I’m still not sure what i did. That said, dimshores.com will take you to the web store, and will eventually lead to a new website. For now most news and information is relayed through the Dim Shores Facebook page, as well as an email list. Dim Shores is on Twitter, but I don’t like Twitter and don’t do a whole lot there. I am very new to Instagram and haven’t posted much yet but it seems better than Twitter, we’ll see.

Tremendous thanks to Sam Cowan for being this week’s featured interview!

Happy reading!

Summer Writing Vacation: Submission Roundup for August 2017

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! August features some great opportunities for all you authors out there, so get to writing and submitting!

But first, my usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these publications, so please direct your relevant questions to the respective editors.

And onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

SQ Mag
Payment: .01/word
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words (firm)
Deadline: August 15th, 2017
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories that relate to the theme of rebellion.
Find the details here.

Aftermath: Explorations of Loss and Grief
Payment: .06/word for fiction; $35/piece for poetry
Length: 500 to 3,000 words
Deadline: August 15th, 2017
What They Want: As the title of the anthology suggests, submission should focus on loss and grief. The editors are not necessarily looking for speculative fiction, though the theme is being left open to interpretation.
Find the details here.

Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.
Payment: .01/word
Length: 3,500 to 7,500 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2017
What They Want: Horror fiction reprints that were originally published in professional or semiprofessional venues.
Find the details here.

The Beauty of Death 2
Payment: $100/flat
Length: 4,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: September 1st, 2017
What They Want: Horror stories that fit the theme of “death by water.”
Find the details here.

Grievous Angel
Payment: .06/word for fiction; $1 per line for poetry
Length: up to 700 words for fiction; up to 40 lines for poetry
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: Open to science fiction, fantasy, and horror as well as related subgenres.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!