Category Archives: Fiction

New Year’s Fiction: Submission Roundup for January 2024

Welcome back for the first Submission Roundup of 2024! Lots of great opportunities this month, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, one of these markets might be the perfect fit.

As always, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative of any of these markets; I’m simply spreading the word! Please direct any questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with January’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Nightmare
Payment: .08/word for fiction; $40/flat for poetry
Length: up to 7,500 words for fiction; up to 5 poems
Deadline: January 21st, 2024 for general submissions; January 28th, 2024 for BIPOC-only
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Fairy Tale Magazine
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 1,000 to 2,000 words for fiction; up to 500 words for poetry
Deadline: Open from January 22nd to January 29th, 2024
What They Want: Open to fiction and poetry that deals with the theme of classic fairy tales.
Find the details here.

Marshland Horrors: The Cellar Door Issue #5
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 2,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2024
What They Want: Dark Peninsula Press is seeking short horror fiction that takes place in marshes, bayous, swamps, or similar locales for the fifth issue of The Cellar Door.
Find the details here

Gamut
Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Ongoing (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Corvid Queen
Payment: $5/flat
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: Open February 1st to February 29th, 2024
What They Want: Open to feminist retellings and feminist tales that revolve around fairy tales, myths, and folklore.
Find the details here.

Fear of Clowns: A Horror Anthology
Payment: .08/word
Length: 1,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: April 1st, 2024
What They Want: Open to horror fiction with the theme of clowns.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

A Year of Horror: 2023 Awards Eligibility Post

Welcome back! So here we are with another year and another awards eligibility post. As I always say every year, these posts are a little strange to do, but it is nice to put together a roundup of the year’s accomplishments.

In terms of published work this year, it’s been all about short fiction! A total of a dozen new short stories of mine came out this year, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with them, especially since they appeared in some truly fabulous publications. Here they are in all their horror glory!

The Hungry Wives of Bleak Street” (American Cannibal, Maenad Press, March 2023)
The women of 1950s Bleak Street have a not-so-secret ingredient they’re expected to add to every meal: a slice of their own skin. That is, until one woman starts to question the status quo. This anthology got such a tremendously positive reception, and I’m so honored editor Rebecca Rowland invited me to be part of it.

Hear, Hearth, Heartbeat” (Forbidden Magic: The Cellar Door, Issue #2, Dark Peninsula Press, April 2023)
A woman returns to her hometown for her class reunion, only to discover that some friendships last far longer than she ever expected. This one’s a little bit witchy and a little bit weird and definitely a lot of creepy fun, especially for anyone who knows what it’s like to find you can’t go home again. After working with Dark Peninsula Press with the Violent Vixens anthology several years back, it was wonderful to work with them again on this anthology.

Melting Point” (Cosmic Horror Monthly, Issue #35, May 2023)
Set at Three Mile Island during the infamous meltdown, two women who are adrift in their lives become inextricably linked, as nuclear fallout seeps through their town and their bodies. This is one of the weirdest body horror stories I’ve ever written and also one of my personal favorites, especially since this tale rattled around my head for a while before I finally got the opportunity to send it to the great Cosmic Horror Monthly.

Welcome to the New You” (No Trouble at All, Cursed Morsels Press, June 2023)
In a dystopic version of reality, everyone has a doppelganger, and once yours shows up, only one of you can continue to exist. At least that’s the story everybody is told. This story is based on my longstanding theory that if I ever met my own doppelganger, we may or may not end up best pals. No Trouble at All is such a fantastic anthology with such fantastic editors, so this one was a joy all the way around.

A Sweet Soiree on the Last Night of the World” (The First Five Minutes of the Apocalypse, Hungry Shadow Press, July 2023)
If the world is ending, why not throw a party to celebrate its demise? That’s the premise of this weird horror story about a woman attending a fete at a graveyard on the last night on earth. However, it turns out the hostess has one final grudge to settle before the world devolves into flames, and our narrator soon realizes that even during an impending apocalypse, there’s still time to pay for the the sins of the past. Hungry Shadow Press is putting together some brilliant books, and it was great to be included in this one.

Ides” (Shakespeare Unleashed, Crystal Lake Publishing, July 2023)
An all-female take on Julius Caesar, a group of cult members at a remote compound realize their leader has apocalyptic longings, so they band together to murder her before she can wreak even more havoc. Her death, however, doesn’t seem to take, and they’re soon trapped in a cycle of violence, death, and rebirth. Weird, mythic, and queer, this is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, so I’m so incredibly happy it found such a wonderful home in the magnificent Shakespeare Unleashed.

Leonora Drive” (Never Wake: An Anthology of Dream Horror, Crystal Lake Publishing, September 2023)
A woman’s nightmares become sentient, terrorizing and isolating a small town, who blames her, even as they overlook their own complicity in her predicament. As the title of the story suggests, this one is a bit of an homage to David Lynch, Leonora Carrington, and the surrealism of the twentieth century. Needless to say, it was a blast to write, and it was so cool to be part of this wonderful table of contents.

How to Win a Dance Contest During an Apocalypse (In Nine Easy Steps!)” (Pseudopod, September 2023)
A decidedly cosmic horror take on 1980s dance movies like Dirty Dancing and Footloose, a teenage girl hides out with her family at a hidden resort in the mountains while the world falls apart around them. But even as the adults are panicking and the slimy tentacles of otherworldly creatures draw nearer, the girl finds solace with a new friend on an abandoned dance floor and learns that even during the apocalypse, it’s not too late to fall in love and find your place in the world. Always a honor to have a story featured at Pseudopod.

Twin Flames” (October Screams: A Halloween Anthology, Kangas Kahn Publishing, September 2023)
After a long estrangement, two sisters meet up at the family home on Halloween night, only for long-buried ancestral secrets to start emerging from the darkness. Halloween anthologies are always a blast, and that’s certainly true of this one, which was so neat to be part of.

The Sea Witch of the World’s Fair” (Novus Monstrum, Dragon’s Roost Press, October 2023)
Set during the 1939 World’s Fair, an unusual sea creature masquerading as a young woman finds herself as part of Salvador Dali’s infamous the Birth of Venus exhibit. Now if only she and the other girls can survive the NYC vice squad, which ultimately proves more dangerous than all the literal monsters in the world combined. This is one of my strangest and most high-concept stories in a long time, and I’m so glad it found a home in the fabulous Novus Monstrum.

The Eleven Films of Oona Cashford” (Morbidologies, Bleeding Edge Books, October 2023)
Told through the format of a film festival retrospective on fictional filmmaker Oona Cashford, this story explores her unusual life and even more unusual films. A female version of William Castle, her horror movies all had fun gimmicks, or at least they were fun until some of her audience members started to mysteriously disappear. This one lived in my head and my heart for a couple years, so my horror cinema-loving soul was so thrilled to have it find a home in Morbidologies, which is such a cool anthology.

How to Survive a Birthday Party at the Dragonfly Dining Terrace” (Back 2 OmniPark, December 2023)
Set in the shared world of the fictional OmniPark, a middle-aged woman looking for a way out of her dead-end life soon learns that her escape might come with a price as the park’s ominous history comes back to haunt her and her friends in supernatural ways they never expected.

I’m super proud of all of these stories—in fact, I’ve never had a year in my entire career that I’ve been so happy with so many short stories. That being said, in terms of favorites, “Ides” and “The Hungry Wives of Bleak Street” have gotten the most positive feedback from reviewers. Either way, as always, I’d be pleased to send any of these stories to anyone who’s considering for awards.

In other news, I also wrote over two dozen nonfiction articles, the vast majority of which were published at The Lineup. I don’t think any of those are quite long enough to qualify for the short nonfiction categories at any awards, but I’m still super proud of the articles, so if you’d like to read any of them, just head over here to see the full list!

This year also focused quite a bit on my 2022 novel, Reluctant Immortals. It went on to be nominated for three awards—the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction, the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, and the Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel—and it ultimately won the Lambda Literary Award. Honestly, that still seems so surreal and wonderful to me. What a huge honor for my novel all about forgotten heroines reclaiming their place in the world.

Looking ahead to 2024, next year will be all about my new novel, The Haunting of Velkwood. It’s available now for pre-order, and it makes its official debut in the world on March 5th.

Already, a starred review in Booklist has said that Velkwood is “sure to be one of the most original and riveting horror novels of 2024,” and Library Journal calls it a “breathtakingly original modern ghost story laden with humanity and heartache.” The Haunting of Velkwood is one of my most personal and favorite works to date, so I’m so thrilled that it will soon be making its way into the world.

So that’s it for 2023. It was certainly a year with ups and downs, but there were some truly wonderful moments throughout the year. I’m looking forward to 2024, and I hope all of you are too.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Horror for the Holidays: Submission Roundup for December 2023

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup, the final one of 2023! Lots of fantastic submission calls this month, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, perhaps one of these markets will be a perfect fit!

As always, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with December’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Kelp Journal
Payment: $35/flat
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 16th, 2023
What They Want: Open to beach noir.
Find the details here.

Interstellar Flight Press
Payment: .08/word (minimum $25)
Length: up to 1,250 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to speculative flash fiction.
Find the details here.

Spooky Magazine
Payment: .01/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to cozy and fun horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone.
Find the details here.

The Map of Lost Places
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: An Apex Books anthology that’s seeking stories about locales where strange things happen.
Find the details here.

Dracula Beyond Stoker
Payment: .05/word
Length: 1,500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: The editor is seeking fiction that reimagines and expands upon the world of Dracula. For the upcoming issue, the theme is The Brides of Dracula.
Find the details here.

In the Eyes of the Hungry
Payment: $50/flat
Length: 2,500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: This anthology is open to horror short stories inspired by the work of John Steinbeck.
Find the details here.

Gamut
Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Opens on January 1st, 2024 (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Marshland Horrors: The Cellar Door Issue #5
Payment: $25/flat
Length: 2,000 to 10,000 words words
Deadline: January 31st, 2024
What They Want: Dark Peninsula Press is seeking short horror fiction that takes place in marshes, bayous, swamps, or similar locales for the fifth issue of The Cellar Door.
Find the details here

Happy submitting!

Future Horror Hopes: Part Two in Our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable

Welcome back for the second half of our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable! I’m so thrilled to spotlight these eight fantastic authors and editors as they discuss their fabulous new books!

And now I’m so pleased to let them take it away!

I know it’s a perennial question, but I’ll ask it anyhow: what draws you to horror? Also, do you remember your first experience with the genre growing up?

N.J. GALLEGOS: There’s something magical to me about facing your fears through the horror genre, whether that means fear of death, losing the ones you love, or the scary things that go bump in the night. It’s always made me feel less scared and alone, oddly enough. My parents divorced when I was young and my mom worked a lot to support us, leaving me to my own devices quite a bit. Horror was there for me, keeping me company. It’s comforting to me.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a horror fan. My mother is a massive horror fiend and shared that love with me early on. I have a distinct memory of watching Alien with her for the first time and everything about the movie captivated me: a woman protagonist who is a total badass (that goes back for the cat; a very big deal to 5-year-old me) fighting a Xenomorph which still ranks as one of my scariest monsters. I grew up in the era of VHS rentals and at one point, we’d watched every single movie in the horror section! As I started reading, I would mow through the YA stuff (Goosebumps, Animorphs, etc) in about an hour and then was nagging my mom for more books. So, she tossed Stephen King’s The Stand at me and said: Try reading this in an hour. Took me a bit longer than that!

SHANE HAWK: If we’re restricting ourselves to literature, what really draws me to Horror is the way in which we can confront our own fears—or step into someone else’s shoes and experience their fears—safely and exist in some intangible liminal space for a little while before we must go back to the real world, our day jobs, etc. I enjoy the thrill, the mystery, the what-if of the dark. Realistic horror freaks me out just as much as supernatural horror does, and I love that I can visit those wispy, incorporeal playgrounds to reflect on how I would react, what I would do if I were ever in a similar situation. I think a lot of us who love escaping into fiction cherish stories in which we get to have a little fun and be vicarious, even for a short journey.

One of my first experiences with the genre was a third-grade reading project whereby the teacher allowed us to choose any book we wanted to read and we had to make some type of artistic expression from that book, whether it was a painting, drawing, model, etc. I chose R.L. Stine’s Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, and I can still remember the cover with the plastic pink flamingos and the mischievous-looking gnomes in red hats. As a third grader, the story spooked me a bit, and it reminded me of the stories of the Little People from my tribe. Arapaho stories about the Little People are scary as they are depicted as entirely malevolent and cannibalistic rather than trickster-ish troublemakers according to other tribes. My dad helped me create my artistic component of the project by using a Tupperware bowl to form a papier-mâché gnome mask. We painted it together. I’m pretty sure I was the only kid who chose a scary book for the project.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I have a theory about that. Being North Dakotan and Norwegian, I was raised to be extremely polite and smile always, no matter what, so I think horror allowed me to explore darker emotions that I couldn’t necessarily display on the surface. My first memory of horror was the movie Cat’s Eye. I would have been about seven, similar in age to Drew Barrymore in the movie, and I clearly remember seeing the little breath-sucking troll peeking through the door to my room. And I had no cat to save me!

JESSICA MCHUGH: I like the descriptive nature of horror, the icky sticky sights and sounds, the rusty earthen stenches and skin-bristling textures. All the revulsion, all the beauty. I love dissecting people’s pasts and motivations too, and for me, horror is the best place to unravel those messy tales. It’s just so much fun.

I consumed horror from a very young age, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint the first experience, but I will say that I read a lot of generic spooky campfire stories, folk tales, and urban legend books when I was little. Paired with Scary Stories to Tell in Dark, the inherent darkness of 80s kids movies like The Last Unicorn, Return to Oz, and The Black Cauldron, and having two older brothers who were already deep into horror films, I’ve always been comforted by all things creepy. I started reading Stephen King novels in late elementary school and was obsessed with RL Stine’s Fear Street series throughout middle school. Horror has just always been there for me, thank goodness.

CHRISTA CARMEN: What draws me to horror is the ability for horror writers and filmmakers to examine a difficult topic—be it mental illness, addiction, trauma, loss, guilt, regret, shame, etc.—through the lens of something even more terrible, more disturbing, and more soul-splitting, resulting in a piece of art that—in addition to horrifying the reader or viewer—can entertain, teach, promote empathy, and even heal. Not too many other genres, if any, can claim that.

Regarding my first experience with the genre growing up, some of the first books I truly adored were the works of James and Deborah Howe, particularly, the Bunnicula series, as well as the Goosebumps and Fear Street books by R.L. Stine. Though, I had a rather bizarre experience when I was in third grade… I went to a friend’s birthday party, and there was talk of watching a few scary movies, but when the movies in question were revealed, they were Leprechaun and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, far from appropriate fare for a group of nine-year-olds. I walked around in an Elm Street-esque, sleepless daze for about a week before the memories of those terror-inducing films began to lessen.

I steered clear of horror films for about four years, then gave the genre another chance with Halloween when I was about thirteen. Though I was terrified over the possibility of Michael Myers climbing the trellis into my bedroom (despite my house not even having a trellis), something about this experience must have struck a chord, because from that moment on, I was drawn to horror.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: Horror is a mirror of our current times and ourselves. I’ve always been an anxious and fearful person, and writing horror allows me to safely explore those fears. My parents never limited my reading and viewing, so I was exposed to the genre early on. I saw movies like Poltergeist and read books like Carrie too young, probably. I was obsessed with the Christopher Pike books, and read a ton of Zilpha Keatley Snyder as a kid.

EDEN ROYCE: Several things draw me to horror: the tension, the anticipation, and the eventual resolution of those feelings, sometimes in one decisive swoop. It’s a way of dealing with the horrors and aggressions of the world at large, similar to the way some people embrace gallows humor.

One of my first experiences with horror was the book The Gashleycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. It’s an illustrated book of ABCs, with a decidedly morbid bent. As a young kid, I found a copy of it at the library and my mom flipped through it. Because of the content, I was afraid she wouldn’t let me check it out. But she just chuckled and set it on the circulation desk with the rest of our book haul for the day. She’s a horror lover as well, so I think she just thought it was a good way to prepare me for the wider world out there.

JAN STINCHCOMB: I like to ponder bad people doing bad things. Good people make me nervous. As a child I was always drawn to ghosts and witches. My first exposure to horror in popular culture was probably Scooby-Doo, but one cannot underestimate the power of the Bible. I remember my older sister explaining that the devil was once an angel, and even though I was a little kid, I felt like I somehow already knew this. Of course he was an angel, I thought. That makes sense. Even the devil has an origin story.

What are your hopes for the future of the horror genre?

N.J. GALLEGOS: It’s already happening but I want the horror genre to be more visible and respected. I feel like previously horror was considered low brow, full of cheap tricks and thrills. Almost the literary equivalent of sugary candy compared to foie gras of contemporary fiction, thriller, etc.

SHANE HAWK: The future of Horror looks bright despite our obsession with the dark and macabre. I see far more stories and books being published by people whose community has been historically marginalized, and in effect, creating a rich diversity of style, voice, and experience within that community that then helps readers avoid making singular, monolithic assumptions and takeaways. I hope it continues to challenge people’s views by tackling all sorts of relevant social issues of the past, present, and future in innovative and alluring ways. I see far more people flocking to it as we break down the barriers and make people understand that it’s not all just the classic creatures and blood and guts. There’s a lot more to it, and more people will continue to see that and spread the word. We will thrive.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: My hope for the horror genre is that we continue to see the diversity grow. When I was young, I read white, male authors because they were all that I knew of and the most readily available to me. While those stores were great, there are so many other stories to be told, and I am really glad to see that happening today. I love Stephen King, but I hope horror readers broaden their horizons and continue to discover the wide range of talent that is thriving in the genre.

JESSICA MCHUGH: More unhinged, super weird, unlikeable, unredeemable, and diverse characters / situations. Gutsy horror, unapologetic horror, the kind of horror that makes me even more excited to find out that the author of that revolting mindfuck of a novel is the kindest, most caring person in the world.

CHRISTA CARMEN: More challenging and subverting of stereotypical tropes and more diverse stories and voices! Also, more women in horror getting deals for film and television adaptations based on their work!

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’ve been happy to see a real effort towards inclusion in recent years, at least in the indie horror community. Readers have always been interested in works from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors, and those authors are finally getting a spotlight and more opportunities to publish. I want to see that continue. There are a lot of diverse voices out there and even more stories. The literary world is a better, more exciting place when it includes a wide variety of voices.

EDEN ROYCE: My hopes are that people who love horror read it more widely: various authors, themes, and sub-genres. I hope the horror community expands, becoming more accepting and more open, with less gatekeeping as to what qualifies as horror. I have people tell me they don’t like horror at all, but they like my work. Horror isn’t all slashers chasing teens through the woods. The horror genre is nuanced and can have subtleties that draw you in with beauty or strangeness, only to reveal something you don’t realize is unsettling until after you’ve put the book down.

There is a deeply-rooted belief out there that horror is a “low” form of entertainment, so I’d love for consumers of media to recognize horror can be as rich and layered and resonant as any other genre out there.

JAN STINCHCOMB: I love horror and I want to see it flourish. I want new voices, all the voices. For years the general public has associated horror with gore, but it is so much more than that. I want to see more readers give horror a chance, and I will keep blending genres in my own work regardless of the constraints of mainstream publishing. That said, I must acknowledge the independent presses out there supporting weird and challenging books: JournalStone, Clash, Apocalypse Party, Black Lawrence, Raw Dog Screaming, Unnerving.

What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

N.J. GALLEGOS: Currently working on my second novel which follows a neurologist who invents implantable inhibiting chips that stop migraines at the source, but the side effects could be… murder.

I’ve also been kicking around ideas for a The Broken Heart sequel but those currently reside in my brain.

SHANE HAWK: I’m working on my debut novel that revolves around an Indigenous punk band, heavy anarchistic music, government ops, and shapeshifters. I’m also working with an established producer on a feature script for a global theatrical release and—fingers crossed—he will help me sell it to a major studio and get it made in the next few years. Keith Rosson also just asked me to write a story for a charity anthology due next year, and I’m excited for that as well!

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I’m finishing up my debut short story collection, The Dead Spot: Stories of Lost Girls, which will be released in May of 2024, and I’m expanding a previous novella, Chopping Spree, which will be rereleased later in 2024 with new material. I’ve also begun working on the sequel to Frost Bite, which will come out in 2025.

JESSICA MCHUGH: I’m working on an erotic horror blackout poetry collection called Feast made from Wuthering Heights. And while it won’t be as physically demanding as The Quiet Ways I Destroy You, it’s still a massive challenge, as I’m writing it in a play format, with all these poems stitched into a very clear narrative and cast of characters. Even the stage directions will be blackout poems. It’s been maddening at times, but it’s also been incredibly fun to develop.

I’m also writing the 3rd and final book in the Gardening Guidebooks Trilogy, coming out from Ghoulish Books in fall 2024. Following the 1950s madhouse horror of Rabbits in the Garden and the 1970s cult horror of Hares in the Hedgerow, I think the 1980s glam metal horror of Witches in the Warren is going to make fans of this bonkers series very happy with how things wrap up for Avery Norton and her fiery family.

CHRISTA CARMEN: My second novel with Thomas & Mercer, Beneath the Poet’s House, will be released in the fall of 2024, and I’m so, so excited about this book. Many of the characters are inspired by historical figures close to my heart, and I can’t wait to be able to tell readers more about this project. Soon… very soon.

Additionally, I’ll have a short story, “Until the Moss had Reached Our Lips,” in a Weird House Press anthology, 13 Possessions, that will be available for preorder shortly, and a story entitled, “Guess How Much I Love You?” in Why Didn’t You Just Leave?, edited by Nadia Bulkin and Julia Rios and published by Cursed Morsels Press, though that one won’t be out until 2024. I have a few more short stories poised for publication with different anthologies that I can’t announce quite yet, and I’m hoping to release my first children’s picture book in the near future as well!

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’m at an exciting point in my career where I’m ready to finally tackle my longest work yet, a novel. I can’t reveal much at this point, but it’s a body horror story about the fallibility of memory, desire through consumption, and the cyclical nature of everything.

EDEN ROYCE: I’ve had a few manuscripts accepted recently that I’m looking forward to seeing out in the world. One has been announced already: an adult horror novella with Raw Dog Screaming Press titled Hollow Tongue. And two that will be announced soon: an adult Southern Gothic fantasy novella and a YA Southern Gothic horror novel – so stay tuned for news on those!

JAN STINCHCOMB: I’m working on a project that combines fairy tale and noir but I can’t say much about it yet. I’m always working on various short stories––they pop up like mushrooms in my life. I tend to believe that it’s good to have several projects going at once, though the novel has a way of rising up and knocking everything else aside.

So many thanks to our amazing featured authors this month! Please pick up copies of their books; they’re very much worth your time!

Happy reading!

Fabulous Fall Fiction: Part One in Our Fall 2023 Horror Roundtable

Welcome back! This month, I’m thrilled to spotlight the work of eight fantastic authors and editors who have new books out this year! I always love putting together these roundtables because it gives me a chance to talk with so many great creators at once. And fortunately for the genre, we’ve got so much talent out there right now!

So without further adieu, I’m pleased to let November’s highlighted authors take it away!

Thank you so much for being part of my fall roundtable. Please tell us a little bit about your latest book.

N.J. GALLEGOS: The Broken Heart follows Casey Philips, an abused housewife and mother of two, who suffers from heart failure during her second pregnancy and receives a transplant from a serial killer. She undergoes a dark transformation, becoming the anti-hero you can’t help but root for… even as the body count rises.

SHANE HAWK: Hohóu for including me in the first place! Yes, my latest book is a 26-story anthology titled Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology. I helped co-edit it, alongside my friend, Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. NWAN was published by Penguin Random House on September 19th, 2023 in the US and Canada, and it has made the top 10 bestselling books list every week since then, making it an international bestseller. Its contents comprise twelve established writers, twelve lesser-known writers, the two of us editors, and an amazing foreword from Stephen Graham Jones that contextualizes the entire work. Mood-wise, the stories range from creepy to mournful to downright hair-raising, and the subject matter explores Indigeneity inside and out while introducing the reader to supernatural monsters, ghosts, all-too-real human monsters, and more. There’s something for everyone in this anthology whether it be a hard-and-fast genre piece ripping you to shreds, or a heartbreaking literary horror piece that stays in your head for months rent-free.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: Thank you very much for having me! My latest book is called Frost Bite, and it’s an LGBTQ+ ‘90s sci-fi horror comedy. Frost Bite is about a small North Dakota town that gets hit by a meteor, which infects the hibernating prairie dogs with alien worms. Recent high-school graduate, Realene, and her best friend, Nate, fight to save the town from the creatures’ memory-stealing bite while also battling a doomsday cult who thinks the meteor is a sign of the
apocalypse.

JESSICA MCHUGH: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate, Gwendolyn! The Quiet Ways I Destroy You is a cosmic horror blackout poetry collection created from and inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Because that novel celebrated its 155th publication anniversary, I challenged myself to tell a story of self-exploration, feminine rage, and transformative sisterhood in 155 unique pieces, some of which are the largest and most complex blackout poems I’ve ever made. It’s a beautiful beast of a book, and I’m so jazzed it’s out in the world.

CHRISTA CARMEN: The Daughters of Block Island is my take on the gothic, the culmination of years of reading books like The Monk and Rebecca and wanting to throw my hat in the ring of decaying castles and damsels in distress. Like many popular subgenres, the gothic has been done to death, so I had to ensure I was bringing something new to readers, ultimately deciding to “make gothic meta,” with my poor tragic heroine, Blake Bronson, believing herself to be in the quintessential gothic novel. The book is also inspired, in part, by the Twa Sisters murder ballad, as well as the Scream film franchise, so there is a little something for everyone within its rain(-and-blood!)-soaked pages.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: Thank you so much for inviting me! My queer succubi sex, drugs and rock & roll novella SLEEP ALONE was released by Off Limits Press in March 2023. It takes place over one week in the lives of merch girl Ronnie and the touring rock band she turned into succubi like herself. Since she turned them six years ago, they’ve lived on the road, constantly fleeing the destruction they leave in their wake from feeding on the memories, energy, strength, and talents of their prey. It’s a seedy, lonely existence. Then everything changes when Ronnie meets the mysterious and magnetic Helene at a show. With Helene in tow, the band crosses the Pacific Northwest as a mysterious disease stalks these succubi and destroys everything, from their relationships with each other to their very existences.

EDEN ROYCE: Who Lost, I Found is a collection of short stories in various speculative fiction genres ranging from Southern Gothic and folk horror to Afro-surrealism and dark fantasy, finally culminating in a tale to lift a little of the darkness. Essentially, it’s Black Southern horror, encompassing Gullah Geechee folklore, ancestry, warnings, conjure, survival, and celebration of enduring for a night.

These stories utilize methods many editors will tell you don’t work: second-person point of view, inactive protagonists, the use of dialect… all hallmarks of my people’s storytelling traditions. Some of these stories are grounded in truth, others in fantasy, but they are all valid aspects of storytelling. This collection defies the odds and, like my people have always done, makes its own way when there was none.

JAN STINCHCOMB: Verushka is a multi-POV family novel with a young female protagonist. It draws from the genres of fairy tale and horror and goes back and forth in time. It’s not YA but I have a secret fantasy of parents reading this book with their kids.

What in particular makes your current project different from your previous books?

N.J. GALLEGOS: This is my first full length novel so that’s different in itself! I have three novellas to compare and contrast with though. I feel like the character development in The Broken Heart was more fleshed out and I found myself getting attached to Casey more than any other character I’ve written. The Broken Heart tackles my favorite theme of female vengeance, also seen in my novella Just Desserts where an awkward, previously bullied woman attends her 20-year high school reunion… don’t eat the tiramisu.

SHANE HAWK: I’m still relatively emerging in the game that is Horror fiction, so I only really have one previous short story collection (Anoka: An Indigenous Horror Collection) and other short fiction scattered throughout other anthologies. This book is the first wherein I’m in both the editor’s seat as well as the writer’s seat. It’s also the first of hopefully many to be published at the Big-5 level—I’m entirely grateful for the amount of work put in by our American and Canadian teams, lots of things the average reader isn’t aware of, and the support is quite different than self-publishing or indie presses. It’s really a learning experience every day.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: This is my debut novel, so prior to this I’ve only published shorter works. Additionally, this is my first foray into creating a fictional town. Demise and its residents are inspired by where I grew up in North Dakota, and it was really fun to try and capture North Dakota winters and the Midwestern niceness of the people there.

JESSICA MCHUGH: The physical work involved in this project is like nothing I’ve done before. Using four different editions of “Little Women” of varying sizes, I ripped, sewed, painted, sculpted, and illustrated this collection in ways that tested every artistic boundary. I owe a lot of that to working in a tattoo shop, surrounded and inspired by art of all types. I used scraps of my coworkers’ artwork to practice my own, and I learned a lot about letting go of my doubts and insecurities and trusting my artistic instincts. This project also required more time management than ever before to complete 155 blackout poems—more than that, actually. I found around 200 poems total, and completed the art on around 170. From June 21st – December 27th, I kept to my goal of finishing 4-6 pieces a week while accounting for sickness, holidays, etc, while aiming for mid-January, so I actually completed ahead of my self-imposed deadline. I’ve honestly never been more impressed with myself.

CHRISTA CARMEN: This is my debut novel, and it’s taken me a number of years to get here, as I started out as more of a short fiction writer and even put out a short fiction collection with Unnerving called Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked in 2018. The Daughters of Block Island is also a decidedly “quieter” horror tale than many of the stories in my collection. There are no chainsaw wielding-Deadite killers or gore-saturated photographs in Daughters, but don’t let that turn you off if you’re in the mood for something unnerving; there’s still a whole slew of scandal, secrets, ghosts, and murder to tickle your horror-loving fancies.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: This one was fast and dirty for me, compared to my other stories. I was in the middle of another project when the idea for SLEEP ALONE took hold and I had to run with it. I didn’t overthink it; it was almost as if the story controlled me. Ronnie is a very personal character to me, someone who’s selfish and vulnerable and cruel and capable of so much love, all at once. I pride myself on my prose, but I also wanted the voice of the story to be very much Ronnie, as an aging merch girl slogging through this seedy, uncomfortable life would speak. So the tone is a bit more casual, more of that “quick and dirty”, than most of my other recent work.

EDEN ROYCE: While several of the stories included are reprints, a good number of the tales in Who Lost, I Found only appeared in non-digital media before being compiled into this collection. Since those stories were in so many different print publications, it would have taken a lot of time, money, and effort to read them all, so I’ve compiled some of them in this collection.

A few of the stories in this collection, I wrote specifically for certain magazines, as opposed to my usual process of writing a story that once completed, I seek a home for. Who Lost, I Found also includes a brand-new novelette (longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella), which is a length I haven’t tackled before in my writing.

JAN STINCHCOMB: This is the first time I’ve published a full length novel. Most of my previous work has been short form, from flash fiction to novellas. I will say that this book is intensely personal, perhaps because it’s set in places where I or my family members have lived.

The books featured as part of this roundtable range from a poetry collection and a debut novel to a fiction collection and a horror anthology, with even more permutations in between. How do you each decide what medium you want to write or edit in? Do you favor a specific medium (e.g. short fiction, novel, poetry, etc.), or do you prefer publishing a wide range of work?

N.J. GALLEGOS: It’s always been on my bucket list to write a novel and I’ve certainly enjoyed the process of writing a longer piece but short stories are my favorite. They’re compact, easily digestible, and a hell of a lot easier to edit! I’m a huge Stephen King fan and love his short story collections (especially Skeleton Crew and Night Shift) and I’ve always admired the way he can convey so much story in so few words. Naturally, I aspire to that.

Other than The Broken Heart, I go into writing thinking: this’ll be a great short story and then at some point, the characters and plot take over, resulting in novella length work! Weirdly, the decision of what medium to write in isn’t conscious unless there’s a submission call giving strict word counts.

SHANE HAWK: Like I said before, I still feel like fresh meat as I don’t have an extensive backlog for readers to check out. With everything I’ve dipped my toe into so far, I really enjoy the mystery and excitement as a short story panster. I like my characters to take me to places I had no idea I’d be, and the real fun is in that unknown, dark splotch at the end of the tunnel, just outside the reach of your flashlight’s beam. Now, with that being said, I’ve already outlined my debut novel and begun writing it—albeit nowhere near rewrites or completion. Novel writing is a whole different beast and adventure, though some of the magic dissipates with that outline, that ending. Though, my approach so far has mostly been to have empty spots in the road ahead, and it’s a fun challenge to see where the characters and story can really take you in that regard. I’ll also say that I’m working on my first screenplay for a feature film, and it’s an incredibly different-different beast. Almost stripped away and barren, but just enough to get you through. Really, I love it all and frankly wish I had more time to write in different mediums and get all these stories out of my head. Though… I’m only 33 and just getting started. I’ve got time to tell it all. Patience patience patience.

ANGELA SYLVAINE: I love dabbling in all forms of fiction. I’ve had the most publishing success with short fiction, but I really enjoy poetry and longer fiction as well. As far as deciding which medium I want to write in, I like to let the story guide me and dictate what is the best fit, but sometimes it’s also about experimentation. I’ll write a poem that I then adapt as a short story and vice versa. That said, I am dedicating myself more to long fiction in the near future, because Frost Bite is contracted to be a three-book series!

JESSICA MCHUGH: I definitely prefer working in multiple genres and mediums…often at the same time. I’m usually always working on a novel and/or short story, and since I started making blackout poetry, I’m also usually working on a collection while doing poetry commissions. I love having options so I can create according to my mood and energy levels without feeling like I’m forcing myself to be productive.

CHRISTA CARMEN: The first iteration of The Daughters of Block Island was a short story told in epistolary format, and I’ll admit it was strange for me to take an idea conceived as a short piece and expand it. Normally, the medium in which I set out to write is the medium in which I complete the project. I don’t really prefer novels over short stories or vice versa, though that wasn’t always the case.

A few years ago, I felt my strengths lied predominately in short fiction, and didn’t have as much confidence in my novel-writing abilities. That changed with—like anything else—lots of practice, and today, I switch pretty effortlessly between novels, short fiction, nonfiction essays, and children’s picture books, depending on where inspiration strikes.

J.A.W. MCCARTHY: I’ve been primarily a short fiction writer, so the novella-length SLEEP ALONE is my longest work to date. When I first started writing, I didn’t think I was capable of good short fiction. I was very longwinded, writing novels even as a little kid. Then when I returned to writing, I found my rhythm with short fiction. Though I’m very good at pushing the limits of “short”—most of my stories want to be 7000+ words, and I’ve been happiest at novella-length like SLEEP ALONE, and with my novelette IMAGO EXPULSIO (THE RED ANIMAL OF OUR BLOOD), which was also recently released as part of SPLIT SCREAM Vol 3 (paired with a novelette from Patrick Barb) by Dread Stone Press.

EDEN ROYCE: I prefer publishing a wide range of work when it comes to genres, age groups, and length. I began my career with writing short stories, but at some point, I wanted to tackle longer work. Since I had more experience with shorter formats, I wrote my first novel in short stories, then wrote more to connect the individual vignettes later.

When I got my first agent, I was told that it was best to stick with one genre and age group until I got a foothold before I moved into other areas. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to that advice. Because I came to writing professionally later in life, and traditional publishing moves quite slowly, I didn’t want to wait some arbitrary amount of time to get my work and voice out there.

As far as how I decide what medium for a work – short story, novella, novel, or anything else – that depends. Sometimes I plan to write a novel or a short story and it ends up being just that. Other times, I’ve written what I intended to be a short story, and by the time I finish telling the story, I have a novella. Usually, as a rule of thumb, if I feel the need to jot down something resembling an outline, I’ll be writing something longer than 5,000 words.

JAN STINCHCOMB: It’s a tie between the short story and the novella/novel. When I’m with one form, I long for the other, though each has its challenges. I am endlessly fascinated by the short story, how each one is like a puzzle for both author and reader to solve. It’s a very tricky form. And the novel never stops surprising me: there are a million ways to write one. As far as choosing between the two goes, the decision is often made for you. There are some projects that are simply too big to be handled within the parameters of the short story, and then there are others that are perfect for a piece of short fiction.

Tremendous thanks to this month’s roundtable authors! Join us next week as we discuss their hopes for the future of horror and what they’re working on next!

Happy reading!

Thankful for Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2023

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! As always, plenty of great calls out there, so if you’re looking for a home for a story, hopefully one of these markets will be the perfect fit.

Per the usual, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Elemental Forces
Payment: .08/word for original fiction
Length: 3,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: November 14th, 2023
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Gamut
Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Opens on December 1st, 2023 (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Kelp Journal
Payment: $35/flat
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: December 16th, 2023
What They Want: Open to beach noir.
Find the details here.

Interstellar Flight Press
Payment: .08/word (minimum $25)
Length: up to 1,250 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to speculative flash fiction.
Find the details here.

Spooky Magazine
Payment: .01/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to cozy and fun horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone.
Find the details here.

The Map of Lost Places
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: Open December 1st to December 31st, 2023
What They Want: An Apex Books anthology that’s seeking stories about locales where strange things happen.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Spooky and Strange: Submission Roundup for October 2023

Welcome back for October’s Submission Roundup! As always, lots of great submission calls this month, so if you’ve got a story looking for a home, hopefully one of these markets will be the perfect fit.

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Gamut
Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Opens on November 1st, 2023 (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Interstellar Flight Press
Payment: .08/word (minimum $25)
Length: up to 1,250 words
Deadline: Opens November 1st to December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to speculative flash fiction.
Find the details here.

Spooky Magazine
Payment: .01/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2023
What They Want: Open to cozy and fun horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone.
Find the details here.

The Map of Lost Places
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: Open December 1st to December 31st, 2023
What They Want: An Apex Books anthology that’s seeking stories about locales where strange things happen.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Autumnal and Awesome: Submission Roundup for September 2023

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! As always, there are lots of great writing opportunities this month, so hopefully, if you have a story seeking a home, one of these markets will be the perfect fit.

The usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with September’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

We Are the Quiet Ones
Payment: $25/flat
Length: Short stories up to 3,000 words for fiction; Flash, micro fiction, and narrative poetry up to 1,200 words
Deadline: September 10th, 2023
What They Want: This issue is seeking quiet horror and dystopian stories on the theme of “The End.”
Find the details here.

Weird Horror Magazine
Payment: .015/word
Length: 500 to 6,000 words
Deadline: September 16th, 2023
What They Want: Open to a wide variety of weird and horror fiction.
Find the details here.

Yule: A Collection of Yule Time Tales
Payment: $10/flat
Length: 2,500 to 8,000 words
Deadline: Open September 11th to October 16th 2023
What They Want: Speculation Publications is seeking Pagan Yule stories from a variety of genres.
Find the details here.

Gamut
Payment: .10/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprint fiction; $50/flat for original poetry; $25/flat for reprint poetry
Length: 1,000 to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; open for poetry
Deadline: Opens on October 1st, 2023 (though the submission portal fills up quickly)
What They Want: Open to dark speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Summer and Stories: Submission Roundup for August 2023

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! As always, there are lots of great opportunities this month, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, then one of these markets might be the perfect fit!

First, the usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; please direct your questions to their respective editors. And with that, onward with August’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Strange Horizons
Payment: .10/word for fiction; $50/flat for poetry; $150/flat for nonfiction
Length: up to 4,000 words
Deadline: August 15th, 2023
What They Want: Editors Suzan Palumbo and Marika Bailey are seeking speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from Caribbean and Caribbean-diaspora authors.
Find the details here.

Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: August 27th, 2023
What They Want: The editors are seeking African Ghost Short Stories from African and African-diaspora writers.
Find the details here.

Why Didn’t You Just Leave
Payment: .10/word
Length: 500 to 5,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2023
What They Want: Editors Nadia Bulkin and Julia Rios are seeking stories that focus on why people don’t leave haunted places.
Find the details here.

A Darker Continent: Strange Tales Of Europe At War
Payment: Percentage of Kickstarter
Length: 5,000 to 10,000 words
Deadline: August 31st, 2023
What They Want: Editor John Linwood Grant is seeking weird and strange fiction set in Europe during World War II.
Find the details here.

We Are the Quiet Ones
Payment: $25/flat
Length: Short stories up to 3,000 words for fiction; Flash, micro fiction, and narrative poetry up to 1,200 words
Deadline: Open from August 13th to September 10th, 2023
What They Want: This issue is seeking quiet horror and dystopian stories on the theme of “The End.”
Find the details here.

Little Bastards: Too-Short Horror Stories No One Wants
Payment: .08/word
Length: 1,000 to 2,000 words
Deadline: Open September 15th to September 30th, 2023 for general submissions; Extended submission period to October 7th, 2023 for marginalized authors
What They Want: Editors Alexis DuBon and Brandon Applegate are seeking horror stories that are too long to be flash fiction but often too short for most short story calls.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

My new novel, The Haunting of Velkwood, is coming soon!

So you may have already heard me screaming from the rooftops about this, but just in case you missed it…

I have a new novel coming out next year!

*screams from the rooftops once again while twirling with joy*

The Haunting of Velkwood is due out from Saga Press on March 5th, 2024. This story is one of the most personal things I’ve ever written, and I’m beyond thrilled for it to make its way into the world.

Last month, The Lineup was gracious enough to do the exclusive cover reveal, which also included a few words from me about the novel. For those of you who missed it, you can see more about it right here.

And now since it’s been a few weeks since the cover reveal at The Lineup, I’m going to go ahead and post the gorgeous art here on my own blog. So without further adieu, behold the gloriously creepy suburban cover!

I’m seriously over the moon for this surreal little cover, and it represents the strangeness and darkness of the book so well. For those of you who have read my work, The Haunting of Velkwood is probably most tonally and thematically similar to The Rust Maidens; both stories are about small, insular neighborhoods and the women who bear the weight of their families’ worst impulses, all with supernatural consequences.

Unlike The Rust Maidens, though, Velkwood is definitely a very queer book. I’m putting that out there now, because for a long time, the queer content in Reluctant Immortals wasn’t mentioned as much as I’d hoped it would be in reviews and the like. (That being said, Reluctant Immortals ultimately won the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction, so the LGBTQ+ themes did eventually get noticed in a big way, which seriously means the world to me.)

Anyway, if you’ve gotten this far in the blog, then you must be at least a little interested in The Haunting of Velkwood. So here’s the official description:

From Bram Stoker Award­–winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a chilling novel about three childhood friends who miraculously survive the night everyone in their suburban neighborhood turned into ghosts—perfect for fans of Yellowjackets.

The Velkwood Vicinity was the topic of occult theorists, tabloid one-hour documentaries, and even some pseudo-scientific investigations as the block of homes disappeared behind a near-impenetrable veil that only three survivors could enter—and only one has in the past twenty years, until now.

Talitha Velkwood has avoided anything to do with the tragedy that took her mother and eight-year-old sister, drifting from one job to another, never settling anywhere or with anyone, feeling as trapped by her past as if she was still there in the small town she so desperately wanted to escape from. When a new researcher tracks her down and offers to pay her to come back to enter the vicinity, Talitha claims she’s just doing it for the money. Of all the crackpot theories over the years, no one has discovered what happened the night Talitha, her estranged, former best friend Brett, and Grace, escaped their homes twenty years ago. Will she finally get the answers she’s been looking for all these years, or is this just another dead end?

Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste has created a suburban ghost story about a small town that trapped three young women who must confront the past if they’re going to have a future.

Needless to say, I’m so very proud of this book, and I can’t wait for the release date. I’ll be merrily discussing it plenty more for the rest of this year and into next, so be prepared for lots of talk about hauntings, family secrets, and the women who break toxic cycles. In the meantime, feel free to pre-order the novel if you’re so inclined!

*screams from the rooftop with joy once again*

Happy haunting, and happy reading!