The Mayor of Halloween is Missing!

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Softcover book now available here!

In the rolling hills of New York there is a quaint little village named Holiday, where a quaint little mayor named Fatz presides. Mayor Fatz is known for filling each special day of the year with fun events and unique traditions that everyone can enjoy. At the village Easter Picnic he once dressed up as a pink marshmallow chick and handed out baskets full of jelly beans and milk chocolate babies. On the Fourth of July he officiated a remote-controlled duck race at Lake MLK on water skis. Months of planning goes into each holiday activity, and the mayor makes sure that every detail has been accounted for. Mayor Fatz is more than just the mayor of a quaint little village named Holiday–he is the Mayor of Holidays!

The Mayor of Halloween is Missing! is an illustrated story book for ages 6-9 from debut author Emily S. Sullivan and artist Cat Scully. It is the story of three children who go on a quest on Halloween Night in order to find their missing mayor and save trick-or-treating.

Mayor Fatz has been gone for days and there are few clues to his whereabouts. He holds the missing key to the Holiday Room at Village Hall, where he is tasked with initiating the night’s festivities. Friends Charlotte, Jackson, and Charlie must follow the clues scattered throughout their small town and overcome their fears if they want to find Mayor Fatz and preserve their Halloween traditions.

Author Emily S. Sullivan and Illustrator Cat Scully

Emily S. Sullivan was born in South Korea and grew up in New York. She studied Early Childhood Education at Oakland University in Michigan. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband, daughter, and darling beagle Benelli.

Cat Scully is the author and illustrator of young adult illustrated horror series JENNIFER STRANGE from Haverhill House Publishing. She has worked in middle grade, young adult, and adult illustration creating interiors and maps for clients like Random House, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, and more. When Cat’s not working in publishing, she works in game development concept art and user interface design for The Deep End Games.

New Voices in Horror with Rowan Hill

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Joe Sullivan: Your Twitter bio says Aussie/Yank, and I’ve seen your volcano videos from your current living situation near Mt. Etna–so I’m extra curious what horror and dark fantasy media you grew up with and where?


Rowan Hill: Yes, it’s a little mysterious, huh? A short summary would be I was born and raised in California with my tweens and teens in Coastal Australia. With family all over, I had summers in Indonesia and the South (of America). I’ve got an adventurous side and after college, I wore out my passport and hiking boots, mostly in the U.S, Asia, and Europe, and worked a ton of odd jobs, (think everything from first-mate to ski-bum to Professor), and though I am currently in Sicily, I’ll be returning to the States soon. I was weaned on Goosebumps but had a sci-fi/ fantasy household and it’s my first love. I remember the first piece of literature to ever make my heart skip was LOTR and under the dank earth with the Barrow-wights. But we had a pretty rounded-out exposure with horror and I will never forget my dad leaving 10-year-old me alone in the rumpus room while Killer Klowns From Outerspace played. I was a teen in the Wes Craven slasher era, a magical time for youth who could go to midnight movie marathons, and I would say that was what started my affair with horror.  

When did you decide you wanted to write for professional markets? What, if anything, inspired you to send off your first submissions?

In 2019 I was in a transitionary time and free to work on my writing. After finishing a larger (now shelved) novel, I took a breather and tried to write something short and dark and randomly came upon the Kandisha Press ‘The One who Got Away’ prompt. I tried my hand at it and Jill Girardi wrote me a few weeks later and gave my first bit of praise. And as a new writer, those few words were everything to me (don’t worry, I told her so). So, I tried again and found that there isn’t a feeling quite like that acceptance high, is there?   

You have a degree in Applied Linguistics. What is your specialty? Have you pulled from your research for your fiction?

My degrees specialized in ESL (hence all the travel and living abroad) and my earlier studies often involved the cultural cues we use in language. Slang, jargon, colloquialisms, the way you can distinguish whether someone is from North or South Arkansas based on the way they say ‘bayou’. How saying ‘mate’ at an Aussie barbeque at the right moment can either greet a friend or admonish. Since I write over so many locations, I feel I absolutely have to include speech cues and cultural dialect to add authenticity. Plus, it’s just fun to add Aussie slang into anything. Have you heard Aussie blokes when they are three pints in? Hilarious.

I’m familiar with your short stories and see you’re in a few upcoming anthologies that I’m looking forward to checking out, but I imagine you’re most excited for your debut In the Arctic Sun. What can you tell us about your novella from D&T Publishing? 

First of all, thank you! I’ve been very fortunate this year with anthologies and loved them all. And yes, I am equal parts excited and terrified for In The Arctic Sun to come out. It is one of those annoying situations where too much info will ruin the climax but it’s the story of a woman living in Alaska’s Arctic Circle and currently dealing with a bad case of insomnia from the constant summer daylight. Her quiet life is further disturbed when she believes an oil company moving through her valley has woken up something beneath the frozen earth and can’t distinguish between hallucinations from exhaustion and reality. It deals with issues of isolation and what it means to be a woman alone in the wild, fighting against men and nature itself. If I had to liken it to anything, I would say The Babadook and put it in the ‘psychological creature feature’ genre. 

What writing plans do you have beyond your novella and short stories? What themes and motifs interest you in the horror genre right now?


You know what? For the last year or so, I notice I have been drawn to stories of women villains and writing them in my own works. Whether it is a lonely cattle herder in the outback or a stripper in Vegas. I believe that’s why the team at Kandisha Press is killing it. Who doesn’t love a good, vengeful woman? I often write about women protagonists who may or may not be the bad ‘guy’ and explore how they are treated in society, especially those with traumatic histories. There is probably some therapy 101 issues to be dissected with my predilection of women empowerment to the extent that I make them all into the predators, but I’ll wait til my mid-life crisis hits before I tackle them.

Additionally, as with Arctic Sun, I adore a good ‘man vs nature’ plot. I think this is because I’ve experienced a few of them myself. Deserted Slovenian woods at night? Altitude sickness among Nepalese mountains of ice? Rats running over your toes in a Bangkok alley? Nature is terrifying, and what it hides even more so. Christina Henry’s ‘Near The Bone’ was a great read this year. What are men compared to rocks and trees and terrifying beasts stalking you in the woods, am I right? For my current WIP, ‘Horror’s Daughter’, I like the idea of merging genres and I’m trying to improve my gothic prose to write a modern Southern Gothic Slasher. Like, I said prior, my family is from the Deep South and there is some darkness in that area that both saddens and terrifies me. It’s an amalgamation of the land, brimming with secret bayous and woods between farmlands, and the mentality of insular life in small-town America. Many people never leave these areas, whether by choice or desire and in both instances I think that is worth exploring through the horror lens.

Rowan Hill is on Twitter and likes stuff and things. 

On Editing and Writing with Sara Crocoll Smith

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Joe Sullivan: I was interested in Love Letters to Poe when I first heard about it. My difficulty with gothic fiction has always been the length of time spent on description and scene setting, so when I saw you were looking for flash stories, I knew I’d check out the magazine–even just to see how the authors would respond to the task. Poe could write something great in 3000ish words(ie “Berenice”), though I think he was more comfortable at double that length. I’m really curious why you chose flash for your gothic mag? What do you think are the benefits or negative aspects of limiting the stories to 1500 words?

Sara Crocoll Smith: That’s a great question. For me, it comes down to patience and richness. Because you’re completely right—longer lengths of gothic fiction can be rather slowly paced while they bathe deliciously in description and setting. While that does have its time and place, writers like Poe who released shorter gothic works made gothic fiction accessible to more readers.

Many others and I want to enjoy gothic fiction but may not have the time or patience to read something longer. For me personally, I’m at a season in my life where I have a toddler so I may only be able to devote a few minutes here or there to reading. This makes flash very appealing. It also allows exposure to many different writers and styles. I learned so much reading through the nearly 400 stories and poems submitted.

With gothic flash fiction, one doesn’t have to devote ten plus hours to reading a lengthy gothic novel. They can spend fifteen minutes and get a nice, small slice of that mood. Reading something like Dracula is like eating an entire chocolate cake. Someone like Poe offers us just a slice. Both are wonderful, but one is a little easier to digest.

As far as the negative aspects of the 1500-word limit, I challenge the idea that it would be detrimental to the story. In fact, such a constraint has led to some especially beautiful and creative tales in Love Letters to Poe, two of which are now award-nominated for Poe Baltimore’s Saturday ‘Visiter’ Awards.

Now that you’ve put out nearly a dozen issues of Love Letters to Poe and are about to release an anthology: Love Letters to Poe, Volume 1: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe, can you tell us about any future plans for the magazine? What more would you like to do with the publication?

Well, I’ll tell you, it’s been a whirlwind of a first year at this. I’d originally conceived of this early in the pandemic (possibly as a method to procrastinate my own fiction…resistance is a wily beast). I’ve always loved Poe and had been noodling with a story featuring a spirited interpretation of his likeness. I was also frustrated with submitting short stories myself to magazines and saw this not only as a way to choose myself instead of going around to others, but to also give voice to authors and stories I wanted to read more of in gothic fiction.

With this experience under my belt and putting out the first anthology, Love Letters to Poe is going through a transformation. The churn of putting out a weekly story or poem isn’t sustainable nor desirable for my schedule. So Love Letters to Poe is morphing more into a publishing arm rather than a magazine.

I plan to continue publishing anthologies, at least annually. You’ll see that this first anthology has a different theme for each issue and only two issues were heavily Poe-inspired. I’m going to lean more fully into the Poe space and anthologies will have one overall theme drawn from Poe, which my patrons will help me choose.

I’m also going to explore expanding more into Poe fiction and nonfiction. I have my own Poe story as I mentioned above. There is a nonfiction book in the works, but I can’t say much now. I may also consider taking pitches for full-length Poe-related works in the future.

You’re working on another project in the gothic realm, this time as author of a debut novel The Haunting of Orchard Hill, which will be the first in a series of ghost stories under the banner Hopeful Horror. What does Hopeful Horror mean to you?

When I go to the horror well, I find it most satisfying when I’m offered hope. I’m looking for that cathartic experience—facing and overcoming the Big Bad. I enjoy a character who is facing a real-life obstacle, whether internal or external, and the horrific element is a metaphor for that issue. Then, when they overcome the horror, they have changed and now have the skills to do what they need to do in life.

I considered a lot of names for my series but landed on Hopeful Horror because I want the reader to know exactly the story they’re going to get. It’s a pseudo-equivalent to the happily-ever-after (HEA) of romance but not quite. Everyone may not be happy (or alive for that matter) at the end of my stories but they will have hope and they will reach that light at the end of the tunnel.

Daylight horror/scares seem to fly in the face of tried and true gothic story construction. So I commend you for taking on the challenge. What additional themes, story motifs interest you as a writer or editor?

Yes, many if not most of my Hopeful Horror novels with feature daylight horror and heavy doses of nature elements. The Haunting of Orchard Hill takes place at an apple orchard and much of the novel is set in sunny scenes. I’m excited to bring as much of the gothic I can into the light, pun intended.

I’m a newer mother so lately a lot of my writing, including The Haunting of Orchard Hill, examines motherhood. I also like to explore womanhood, isolation, grief, aging, and the impermanence of life.

As for what interests me as an editor, I generally like to see a plot that’s moving along and has a conclusion and character growth. The story or poem needs to be saying something. I know that’s at odds with some concepts of the gothic but it’s what I like to read. I also am drawn to lush, beautiful prose as well as the one-two punch of emotional feels.

Bio:

Sara Crocoll Smith is the author of the ghostly gothic horror series Hopeful Horror. She’s also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Love Letters to Poe, a haven to celebrate the works of Edgar Allan Poe and encourage the creation of gothic fiction tapped from the vein of Poe. 

When she writes, she’s often accompanied by her cranky, old Pomeranian curled at her feet. Sara spends her free time with her husband and son.

For an exclusive morsel of ghosts and daylight horror, visit her website to get the free short story “The Strangle of Ivy.”

For a free copy of issue one, including award-nominated stories “The Heart of Alderman Kane” by Eleanor Sciolistein and “Midnight Rider” by Melanie Cossey, visit Love Letters to Poe.

The Sounds of Secrets

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by Blake Johnson

Your brother is missing, and everyone still refuses to hear the obvious—the arrhythmic patter of his quiet footfalls echoing from the house across the street, where the Sound Collector lives. He’s there, right now, sitting on his front steps. Leaning back, fingers laced behind his head, legs stretched out. Portable cassette player resting on his crotch, one earbud dangling like a flaccid appendage, one ear always open, scanning the neighborhood like a sonar.

He cocks his head to the side, ear trained on your driveway, where you and dad prepare for another useless trip around the block, around the town, around the goddamn world, flashing your brother’s photo at strangers, begging for any sign of recognition. You’ve already tried to tell dad what your brother suspected, what you now know is the truth. He had just stared at you for a long moment, then grumbled out something about accusations and evidence. He hadn’t listened. Your heart throbs like a bass drum when you realize someone else probably had.

As you pull out of the driveway, you swear you see the Sound Collector tap his ear, then his chest. You can almost hear the whisper on his lips: soon.

*

It was your brother who had been the first to notice. The chug and rumble of a garbage truck displaced, only to return come midnight like a mechanical phantom. Posters plastered on telephone poles promising cash for a pet returned. Incessant howling from across the street not a few days later. Chirpless birds, empty nests. Hissing winds, then stillness, deadness, in the air. Quiet suburbia gone silent, save for the invisible imprint of what had once been, sounding off each midnight.

No one was quieter than your brother. He was born for burglary, designed for serenity. He had this way of moving, where he would take a few paces. Stop. Assess every floorboard, plan every step. Then he would take a few more. Who else was better suited to stop the Sound Collector? He even told you this, punctuating the declaration with a demure chuckle, just so you wouldn’t think he was serious and go crying to dad. Or it might’ve been his way of saying goodbye, just in case things went wrong.

The next morning he was gone.

Now there’s only you.

Midnight arrives.

Can you hear it? The barely perceptible patter of feet, tugging you out of bed and across the street, to the Sound Collector’s threshold? You have no plan, only a foolish hope that, somewhere inside, you’ll find the boy the noise belongs to.

You half-expect the door to swing inward on your approach. Hands slick with sweat, you clutch the doorknob. Locked. You let out a breath you didn’t even know you had been holding. Now’s the time to turn back, you tell yourself. But the patter will never leave you alone if you do.

You shut your eyes. Listen the way your brother might have listened. You let the sound guide you around the house, to a window a crack open. Perhaps left open for you—but by who? Clenching your teeth so you won’t grunt, you tug on the window, once, twice—finally, it gives, flying upward with a loud thud.

Shoulders clenched, hugging yourself, you wait for something to happen. An alarm, maybe, or a sudden gout of flame. But there is nothing, only the window, gaping open like a toothless maw, waiting for your entry.

You climb inside. You are struck by a flood of light.

When your vision clears, you just stand there, blinking as if slapped. The details of the room hit you in a staccato barrage. A microphone aimed at you like a cannon. The Sound Collector sitting behind a glass partition, operating a soundboard. Stack upon stack of cassette tapes line the walls, one of which must be your brother.

The Sound Collector’s mouth quirks up in an edged smile as he presses a button. Mounted above the booth, a red-light gleams, backlighting a single word: RECORDING.

A slow whimper escapes your lips. Your bones gyrate as you feel yourself dissolving into something invisible, your whole being reduced to a single sound. You try to slow the process. You clamp your mouth shut, and fade faster, faster. That’s when you realize that silence will not save you, just like it didn’t save your brother.

You stagger forward with what’s left of you, nearly kissing the microphone. You take a final breath and scream.

You scream your brother’s name, and you scream the names of everything the Sound Collector has stolen. You shout for all the lost moments, for futures gone and existences warped. You cry out for yourself in both grief and exultation. Because though you are nearly gone, siphoned away into some strange and terrible new existence, you hear the shattering of glass. The soundboard sparks and crackles. The Sound Collector thumps his ruined equipment with clenched fists. Before you recede, before you, too, are lost, you hear what so many yearn to hear—the sounds of secrets being brought to light.

Blake Johnson can be found at https://bjohnsonauthor.com/ and on Twitter @bjohnsonauthor.

The Weight of it All

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by Sarah Musnicky

She knew it was over long before he ever did. The decision was made when the thrumming began in her bones, sparking something in the blood that desired to spill free. Every molecule in her body screamed in unison, begging for release but all she could do was sit in the Zen garden outside her rental in complete silence.

The sōzu broke the tension every few seconds. It was keeping her grounded in the moment. Her mind, however, had other plans.

She needed to pull the trigger. And the longer she waited, the more the agony of prolonging would claw its way out of her stomach. If the shoe were on the other foot, she knew Duncan would not afford her the same level of courtesy. No, that wasn’t something he did. Not unless it served him.

Her fingers ached from clenching. Everything ached. This feeling was altogether quite unpleasant. Whatever this was, an episode threatening to come or, perhaps, even indigestion, she didn’t care for it. The sooner she purged it from her system, the better.

Whipping out her phone, her fingers moved on autopilot. Duncan’s number popped up on the screen.

“Let’s talk.”

Simple. Quick. Vague, yet direct enough given how things had been going to warn him in advance. None of what they were going to talk about was going to be a surprise. She was sure of it.

His response: “K.”

~

“You’re being unreasonable.”

Duncan looked down at her with that close lipped smile of his. Thin lips pressed inward. Arms crossed. It was half-past eleven at night and both were freezing their asses off in the middle of the park, but he had insisted on somewhere public. Her counter was that it needed to be late. Late enough that no one could see them. Not even the most procrastinating dog walker. Now, their eyes were engaged in silent war. 

There was no winning to be had here.

“Look,” She said. “I don’t see a reason for us to keep doing whatever this is that we’re doing. And I’m just not happy.”

“You won’t even talk about why.” His voice raised. His voice always raised when he was upset.

The thrumming from earlier had steadily grown throughout the day and had settled itself in her stomach. Pain throbbed between her shoulder blades. They really did need to wrap this up. Whatever episode was coming on was guaranteed to be nasty. 

“I have talked to you. Consistently. You haven’t listened. And I’m tired, Duncan.”

Closing her eyes, she stuck her hands as deeply as they’d go in her pockets. Dull bass tones rang in her ears, almost in time with the throbbing in her skull. She was cutting it close. She needed to go now. Without thinking, she stood up, which threw Duncan off-balance. This wasn’t her smartest move of the night and she realized it as soon as she looked at the blankness of his face.

“So, this is what you really want to do, huh?”

He grabbed her, and that was when it began. Adrenaline kicked in as pain splintered through her body. All she could do was let it happen. The thrumming hum crescendoed in her mind. It was all she could hear. Not the sound of Duncan’s agonized screams before he pushed her away. Nor the sound of flesh tearing as her back flayed open before surrounding her in a swarm of plumage. All she could register was that hum and the sweet release of surrender as she gave into the call.

Then there was nothing. Nothing but the certainty that things were finally over, and that she could finally be herself again.

Sarah Musnicky is the co-owner and current Editor-in-Chief for Nightmarish Conjurings, where she works hard to promote the writers’ voices in today’s horrorscape. When she’s not shifting between managing NC and her day job, she is plotting new stories or bugging her cat, Jupiter. You can visit her website www.nightmarishconjurings.com or catch her on Twitter at @SarahMusnicky.

Corridors

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(Inspired by 7-Methoxy-β-Carboline: (Telepathine) from Time Machines)

By Matt Neil Hill

infinity / of corridors / beneath the earth / beneath the radio telescopes / the concrete / the car idling on the scorched grass / Jonathan inside still against the steering wheel / helmet on / trying not to move / to not disturb the drone of time / too early and too late / again and again / and for the hundredth time I looked back / not turned to salt / not I / spray of bloodied teeth against black glass / so hot / sky white and white hot / too hot to breathe / too weak to join me / my quest again back to the start / why did you press the button he asked an hour ago / a day / a week /how long have we been doing this / over and over / never to be got right / an ouroborous of wrong turns / white leather jacket / hammer and sickle red / crash helmet full face / black glass / I see you but you cannot see me / I descend / the stairs that lead down to the button / alone always alone / self-abandoned in this inverted cathedral / stumbled across / lost and cursed / the ghosts of trees on fire along the horizon / charcoal drawings of the end of the world / thud-thud-thud my heart / his heart stopped or almost so / against the wheel / a mile above / these boneless catacombs / deserted / fled / echoes of feet not mine / or maybe mine / I cannot tell / air cooling as I drop / the world above bleached by engines / engines vast and alien /man-made / Jonathan /Schrödinger’s husband / if I press the button again / at the end of the stairs / of corridors that blend and bleed and blur into one / the light always the same / cold blue / code red / why did you press the button / because I said / because I said but can’t remember / driving / driving and so lost / leather and black glass / uniforms we stole / car we stole / ID we stole / or did we / it’s so hard / so hard to remember / did we ever know what we were doing / my heartbeat loud inside this shell / assaulting the concrete walls / all the earth above me / dead / all dead / including Jonathan / but not Jonathan / not him if I push the button / again / I run / but slowly / with urgency / my feet know these floors / intimately / but without care / we drive in circles / can only go so far / I can remember before / but don’t like to / cruel memories that don’t involve these corridors / this endless pursuit / this loop / stuck in this loop / this circle of hell / why did you press the button / his final question to me each time / each time the first / so glad / always so glad he can’t read my mind / every time / darker with each level down / each corridor a mile / cut out of the earth / the rock / the salt / the lime / the soul / why did you push the button / might as well ask why are we here / where did the world go / do you love me / why do you love me / how could you leave me / might as well ask / might as well / heartbeat flickers / taste of rot in my gums / so thirsty / Jonathan against the steering wheel / up there above me in the blinding light / held together by leather and metal / and time / burning / melting / metastatising / the clatter of teeth against glass / his tongue / when did we last kiss / forever / forever ago / just now / yesterday / tomorrow / the surge of his insides / against the glass / the cracks / down I go / down corridors / barren / concrete like pitted skin / why did you press the button / again / again / again / if I had not / if I were to not / if I were to stop / and rest / and go no farther / and make the last time the last time / and just sit here in the dead lights / and breathe the cool air / made by machines / and listen to the whisper of the earth / and the relaxing of my heart / what would I do / the button would always be there / and I would be so lonely / divorced from that handful of hours / that loop / where we drive / in circles / and we kiss / when we know it is hopeless / and return to the start / in the hope / that it is not hopeless / and as his body rebels / and fades / and expels its blood and teeth / against the glass / I run / I descend / these stairs / these stairs and corridors / and run towards the final room / the final room I see / my finger that should be calloused / from repetition / but is smooth / like the enamel of his teeth / as they explode / and clatter against the glass / and I press the button / why did you press the button / because / just because / the loop is all we will ever have / the aimless drive / these corridors / the blood against the glass / and I reach down / reach out my finger in this lonely place / towards the button / knowing I will be back in the car / not at any second / but at the same second / and I will make you drive / in all haste / away from the concrete and the dishes pointed at the wasted sky / where no one speaks / where no one asks / why did you press the button / not for an hour or two / handful of beautiful minutes of hope / before it fades / and I return / alone / forever alone / just one more time / but not just one more time / again / again / to the infinity / of corridors / beneath the earth

Matt Neil Hill lives in London, where he was a psych nurse for many years. What he is now is anybody’s guess. He’s married with cats and one miniature human. His weird/crime/horror fiction has appeared in various publications including Vastarien, Weirdbook, Splonk, Shotgun Honey and the Dark Peninsula Press anthology Violent Vixens, with non-fiction at 3:AM Magazine and Invert/Extant. He is working, glacially, on at least one novel. You can find him on Twitter @mattneilhill.

Fundamental Formatting for Fiction Submissions

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No SASE necessary.

Always follow the submission guidelines of the call if they’re provided, however tedious they might be. The information above and below works for subs you send us and where there aren’t specific formatting guidelines.

How To Write a Publishing Bio with Few or No Credits

Sending a submission for a call without saying something about who you are isn’t a deal breaker, but it can certainly help your cause. A brief third-person bio in a sub email has become as common as double-spaced formatting. There’s no reason why you can’t leave an impression on an editor in addition to the quality of your story, regardless of your writing credits.

Here are a few examples of how you can dress up your pub bio:

After stating your pen name, open with what genre or niche you most like to write. And don’t just say you like to write stories that you know an editor likes; it’s not memorable.

Reggie MacReginald crafts contemporary urban legends in his spare time, some have called him a creepypasta aficionado.

You might want to avoid humor. I don’t mind a little humor in a bio, but some folks go overboard.

If you have a writing credit you can insert it here. Make sure to include a link to it if it can be read for free online. Editors like to learn about new publications, and might read or listen to your story. If you don’t have a credit, state a few personal details about yourself, including at least a vague sense of where you live.

He has had one story featured on the 2Spooky4U Podcast. You can listen to it here! Reggie’s from the Northeast and genuinely hates the Boston Red Sox.

It’s time to wrap it up. This is where you plug your website and (1) social media handle. You can mention your family or your cat, but you shouldn’t list so many details of your personal life that it feels like a dating profile.

You can visit his website ReggieHatesTheRedSux.wordpress.wix.com or catch him on Twitter @90sNomarHater420.

Actually, maybe we should circle back here and give an example of the email itself.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for taking the time to read my submission “Story Title”. It is 9 zillion words and I hope you enjoy it. My name is Reggie MacReginald and I’ve never been published in print before.

Sincerely,

Reg


Reggie MacReginald crafts contemporary urban legends in his spare time; some have called him a creepypasta aficionado. He has had one story featured on the 2Spooky4U Podcast. You can listen to it here! Reggie’s from the Northeast and genuinely hates the Boston Red Sox. You can visit his website ReggieHatesTheRedSux.wordpress.wix.com or catch him on Twitter @90sNomarHater69.

Social Media and Your Author Website

You need to have a website where you can share your work, a bio with a current photo, links to all the social media where you’re active. This is because editors, agents, readers, and reviewers want to access more info about you and your work. You don’t need to buy a domain, any basic free site is fine.

You only need to update this site a handful of times a year. If you’re in a publishing drought, still post something about the stories you’re working on and books you’re reading.

On the front page link only the social media where you are active. No dead links.

Encourage folks to follow you on your Amazon Author Central page. Link to it. Make sure your Amazon author page bio and book credits are always updated! It is an extremely underused tool for spreading the word about books you’ve authored/appeared in. Include a current photo. You can’t see it happening in real time, but it leads to sales over the long haul.

As an author you have to have success before you can be anti-social.

Six Rooms

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Release will be September 7th 2021. Preorder the ebook or order the paperback here!

Welcome, all, to the Sunshire Chateau: Lestershire’s premier tourist attraction. It sits high on a hill overlooking town, shrouded by tall trees and rumors of murder, scandal and intrigue. Tickets are hard to come by, so hold yours close, else the Tour Guide may not let you in. And that would be a pity, for there are so many things to see within these walls–history, glamor, and riches beyond your wildest imagination. Just remember the following rules: don’t wander off alone, don’t be rude to the Guide, and don’t, whatever you do, touch the valuables. 

Because the ghosts don’t like it when you touch their things. 

Bram Stoker Award nominated author Gemma Amor brings you her newest tale of secrets, lies, love, betrayal, greed, family ties, and a house that has seen a great many sights, over the years.

Praise for Six Rooms

Six Rooms starts as an almost whimsical ghost story but devolves inexorably into a series of genuinely dreadful horrors. This descent into violence and greed and regret will leave you thoroughly unsettled.”

Alan Baxter, author of THE GULP & THE ALEX CAINE SERIES

“Gemma Amor turns her keen eye for character and atmosphere to the nightmare land of ghosts—a gorgeous blend of historical horror and hauntings done right, Six Rooms is at turns chilling and heartbreaking, with enough scares to make sure you leave the lights on. A delight.”

Laurel Hightower, author of CROSSROADS & WHISPERS IN THE DARK

“Gemma Amor’s Six Rooms is a chilling ghost story that is full of her usual prose magic and haunting imagery. This deftly crafted paranormal yarn will chill the very marrow of your bones, whilst the frenetic pace and readability of Amor’s words will get your heart rate pumping until you turn that final page and can once more breathe easily. This is more than just a ghost story; this is a story about belonging, a story of finding one’s place in the world, but above all else it is a unique and masterful book that takes the paranormal trope and crafts something truly magical… Six Rooms will leave its mark long after reading, mark my words.”

Ross Jeffery, Bram Stoker Nominated author of TOME, JUNIPER & ONLY THE STAINS REMAIN


Gemma Amor is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author, voice actor and illustrator based in Bristol, in the UK. She self-published her debut short story collection CRUEL WORKS OF NATURE in 2018, and went on to release DEAR LAURA, GRIEF IS A FALSE GOD, WHITE PINES, GIRL ON FIRE, THESE WOUNDS WE MAKE and WE ARE WOLVES before signing her first traditional publishing deal for her novel FULL IMMERSION, due out from Angry Robot books in 2022. SIX ROOMS is her eighth published book. 

Gemma is the co-creator of horror-comedy podcast Calling Darkness, starring Kate Siegel, and her stories feature many times on popular horror anthology shows The NoSleep Podcast (including a six part adaptation of DEAR LAURA), Shadows at the Door, Creepy and the Grey Rooms. She also appears in a number of print anthologies and had made numerous podcast appearances to date. Other projects in development include a video game, a short film she co-wrote called ABASEMENT (2021), and more. 

Gemma illustrates her own works and also provides original, hand-painted artwork for book covers on commission. She narrated her first audiobook, THE POSSESSION OF NATALIE GLASGOW by Hailey Piper, in 2020–it won’t be her last.

New Voices in Horror with Eric Raglin

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Joe Sullivan: In the last year or so, I began listening to your Cursed Morsels podcast, checked out an anthology you edited: ProleSCARYet, and have read a few of your stories. Usually when I come across a writer who’s putting out quality work there’s more to their artistic history that I can catch up on–but you really seem to have emerged on the spec fic scene at some point in 2020. If I were to guess, I’d probably say you’ve been published elsewhere under a different name. Luckily, this is an interview and I don’t have to guess. So, Eric, what can you reveal about your interest in horror and how you began putting your dark fic out into the world?

Eric Raglin: You’re absolutely right about me joining the spec fic scene fairly recently. Before the pandemic began, I’d been writing horror and poetry off and on for several years (inspired by Livia Llewellyn, Carmen Maria Machado, and John Ajvide Lindqvist primarily), but I’d never submitted anything for publication. It was June of last year when I attended one of Gabino Iglesias’s workshops, and that experience inspired me to actually send work out into the world and start talking to people in the horror lit community. Now, with a few pieces published and plenty of new friends, I’m so glad I made that decision. 

You seem at ease with switching between narratorial voices and viewpoints from story to story i.e. man, woman, ambiguous, LGBTQ. This is fairly uncommon, as writers worry themselves over the authenticity of it all and don’t like the extra criticism it may bring. I’m really curious at what your process might be for choosing your narratorial focus. How do you choose which viewpoint best serves the story?

Writing provides an opportunity to explore new worlds and perspectives. I’d get bored if I wrote solely from the perspective of someone like me (i.e., white, male, bisexual, cisgender, etc.) That said, when I write from a perspective other than my own, I do my research and try to be mindful of stereotypes. I also make sure to give my characters flaws and complexities, regardless of their identities. It’s important that I not flatten out, sanitize, or caricature a character’s experience. As far as how I choose a narratorial focus for a story, I take time to consider which perspective would be most interesting, powerful, and fitting for the individual story’s needs.

Your debut collection Nightmare Yearnings is set for release in September, and it has been blurbed by some really fantastic writers. If someone reads it front to back, what do you hope they take away from the book as a whole?

I hope readers come away from the book with exhilarating disorientation, a troubled night’s sleep, and a mobilizing anger against the injustices of capitalism.

I think most who know your work, or at least know of you, are familiar with your interest in anti-capitalist, antifascist, and LGBTQ themes. What other themes are you interested in exploring through your writing?

One theme I come back to repeatedly is ecological destruction. Climate change is a collective trauma that we must process and confront however we can. One way in which I do that is through writing eco-horror.

What do you hope to do in your writing career after Nightmare Yearnings? Longer works? More short stories?

I’ve just finished my second weird horror collection Extinction Hymns, which I intend to submit to small presses over the next few months. Beyond that, I have a novella in my sights, but it’s too early to comment on what it might become. All I know is that short stories come much more naturally to me than longer fiction. Hopefully I can learn to write both.

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Eric Raglin (he/him) is a Nebraskan speculative fiction writer, horror literature teacher, and podcaster for Cursed Morsels. He frequently writes about queer issues, the terrors of capitalism, and body horror. His work has been published in Novel NoctuleDread Stone Press, and Hyphen Punk. His debut short story collection is Nightmare Yearnings. He is the co-editor of ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare. Find him at ericraglin.com or on Twitter @ericraglin1992.

On Editing and Writing With Wendy N. Wagner

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Joe Sullivan: You’re well-known in speculative fiction, as Managing/Senior Editor at Lightspeed and now as Editor-in-Chief at Nightmare. What was your path into professional editing?

Wendy N. Wagner: I started out as a volunteer! I had a friend who was volunteering as one of John Joseph Adams’s editorial assistants, and she realized he needed a few more hands on deck. Since I’d just sold him a short story (for his anthology The Way of the Wizard), he knew I was a decent writer, so he let me jump into a few anthology projects. We realized we worked together really well, so I just wound up sticking around.

If you have the time for it, volunteering is a great way to make connections and learn new things in this industry. When I first got serious about writing, I had a job, student loan debt, and a toddler, so going to a big workshop wasn’t remotely feasible. But I had an internet connection and a few hours every day after my daughter went to sleep. I used them the best that I could!

The second question in and I’m already going to ask you to expound on the nebulous. Genre fiction, especially horror, seems to thrive when an old trope is brought back and reimagined and reinvigorated by a group of talented writers for a brief window. Are there any current themes in horror that seem to be irrupting(or at least bubbling under the surface) in your inbox at Nightmare?

I’ve been working at Nightmare since 2014, and in that time I’ve definitely seen some trends in the genre. For some reason, between 2014 and 2019, sin eaters made a lot of appearances in the slush pile!

Strangely, I haven’t seen any serious trends showing up in the last six months. There’s been a small increase in vampire stories, I think, and of course a ton of evil mermaid stories (that’s the influence of Mermaids Monthly Magazine, a one-year-long themed project). I’m kind of hoping the success of Stephen Graham Jones’s novella The Night of the Mannequins and Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy might spark a resurgence in slasher stories. But you can never predict these things: I thought we’d see a zillion witch or historical horror stories after The VVitch came out, and that never really came true.

I personally think there’s been a thematic resurgence with the Faustian bargain. But it seems to have more of a self-sacrificial twist to it. You published a story with us last year, “The Deer God,” which to me is a great example of this–and I believe you’ve developed this story into your soon-to-be-released horror novel The Deer Kings? I thought the Deer God was a great character. Will he be returning in the novel?

Thank you so much for your kind words! “The Deer God” is one of my very favorite stories that I’ve written. And the Deer God himself is definitely my favorite monster. He’s so powerful, evil, and yet weirdly banal—like I love the fact he’s such a big fan of Rick Astley.

That Faustian bargain lies at the heart of both the short story and the novel, but the novel really looks at the concept both more broadly and more deeply. It’s the story of a man (his name is still Gary and he still loves to go running, but other than that, he’s a totally different character than the guy in the short story) who is forced to move back to his hometown when his wife gets her dream job. Once he arrives, he realizes that there’s a cult in town that’s worshipping a creature he and his friends summoned when they were young teens. Now he has to reconnect with his old friends and remember what kind of deal they struck with the Deer God—before the cult targets Gary’s family for their biggest and most dangerous ritual.

I’ve also seen a little bit about your Neon Hemlock novella The Secret Skin. Is it a ghost story? What can you tell us about it at this point?

The Secret Skin is definitely a ghost story! It’s a gothic tale set in the 1920s, about a young woman who goes back to her family’s mansion on the Oregon coast to help watch her niece while her brother honeymoons with his second wife. Of course, a lot of terrible things have happened in the house, and none of the characters are quite what they seem, so there’s lots of mysterious and spooky moments. If you like haunted houses and stories about families with dark secrets, it’s a book for you.

It’s not uncommon for a writer to take a break from writing as they become more in-demand as an editor. How have you managed to get your magazine work done and still have time to produce novel-length fiction? You’re certainly reading more contemporary horror as an editor–do you find that this is helpful for your writing?

Oof. Sometimes striking that balance is so hard. It’s so easy to let the magazines suck up all of my time, because there are definite deadlines and because there are so many people depending on me to take care of things. I could never let JJA down, for example.

For me what works is making a schedule and sticking to it. I like to get in some of my own work in the morning and then use the afternoon to focus on editing. I usually use evenings to read slush or work on author promotional stuff. I think I’m writing much more slowly now than I used to, but at least I’m getting a little bit done on most days.

I tend to take most of my inspiration from nonfiction and the visual arts, so reading a lot of new horror stories doesn’t really seem to stir up my brain. In fact, it can be really draining. When I’m reading a lot of submissions—and we get about 1200 when we open for our two-week submissions periods, which happen twice a year—I find myself quite tired and depressed and I struggle to get to any of my own work. It’s kind of terrible! I’m hoping I can find a way to feel better while I’m slushing.

Lastly, are there any John Joseph Adams editor tips or tricks you’ve picked up along the way that you can share?

JJA is an absolute wizard of titles! Just about any time we get a story with a title that’s only one or two words long, he will ask the writer to dig deeper and find a longer, more evocative story title. And a big part of that is because a title is really the only selling tool a short story has. Like books have covers and blurbs and back cover material, but most people will only ever see a short story’s title.

Coming up with an exciting title can be difficult, but John can always find some cool line in a story and tweak it until it’s the perfect title. I’m really trying to figure out how he does it!

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Wendy N. Wagner is the editor-in-chief of Nightmare Magazine and the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed. Her short stories, essays, and poems run the gamut from horror to environmental literature. Her longer work includes the novella The Secret Skin, the horror novel The Deer Kings, the Locus bestselling SF eco-thriller An Oath of Dogs, and two novels for the Pathfinder role-playing game. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.