Campfire Macabre: Volume 2

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Preorder the eBook here! To be released October 11th.

The second volume in our flash/short horror anthology series. This time the themes are: My Last Trick ‘r Treat, Body Grotesquerie, We Were Getting High, Ominous Visitors From Deep Space, and Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes. Cover art and design by Luke Spooner at CarrionHouse.com.

Here is the complete table of contents:

My Last Trick ‘r Treat

“Candy Corn Kid” Angela Sylvaine

“Blow Me a Kiss, Said the Jack o’Lantern” Scott Cole

“Knot House” Anthony J. Rapino

“9:03 PM” Jeff Provine

“Before I Let Go” K.S. Walker

“Last Halloween” S.H. Cooper

“Who Are You Supposed to Be?” Patrick Barb

“Welcome Back My Friend” JG Faherty

“This is Not a Haunted House” Tiffany Michelle Brown

“Mr. Sprinkles” LP Hernandez

Body Grotesquerie

“Siren” Zach Friday

“How To Love In An Apocalypse” Ai Jiang

 “scratch ‘n sniff” Clay McLeod Chapman

“A Mother is a Kind of God” Eric LaRocca

“A Feast for One” Marisca Pichette

“The King of Rooms” Jessica Ann York

“The Claw’s Blessing” Eric Raglin

“Five Visitations” Joe Koch

“Penelope’s Body” Ali Seay

When We Were Getting High

“Of Bongs and Birds” Corey Farrenkopf

“Corkscrew” Chad Lutzke

“The Farmer’s Son” J.A.W. McCarthy

“No Sticks, Some Seeds” John Lynch

“Outbuilding” John Boden

“Out at the Old Trestle” Christi Nogle

“Trip Sideways” Tyler Jones

“We Are All Stars” Wile E. Young

Ominous Visitors From Deep Space

“Never Go in the Attic” Stephen Kozeniewski

“When an Alien Calls” Bev Vincent

“Funny Faces” Eric J. Guignard

“To Become” Eddie Generous

“Indrid Cold is Alive and Well” Tom Deady

“The Room” L. Marie Wood

“The Joining” Michael Harris Cohen

“Greenglow” Jonathan Duckworth

Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes

“The Heart of the Everglades” P. L. Watts

“Outside” Tim Waggoner

“Farm Hand” Joshua Marsella

“We are all lost” Die Booth

“Off the Beaten Path” Mark Allan Gunnells

“Catamount” Brennan LaFaro

“Danny Boy” Robert Ford

“Lakebottom Charlie” Laura Keating

They Mostly Come at Night

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Preorder the collection here! To be released November 8th.

A high class restaurant where the food brings out the worst in its patrons…

A man whose mind won’t stay inside his own body…

A mother and daughter’s trip to a zoo full of dead animals…

An Italian immigrant’s idea of the American Dream ripped from his grasp…

A mysterious woman’s unquenchable hunger for negative energy…


Darkness looms ahead in these eleven short stories from the Splatterpunk Award and Imadjinn Award-Winning author Wesley Southard. With an introduction by horror master Brian Keene.

Keep the lights on. It’s a long time before sunrise.

“Southard’s work bends the mind and punches the gut. His chilling tales offer all the carnage and chaos horror fanatics lick their chops for.” ― Kristopher Triana, Splatterpunk Award-winning author of Gone to See the River Man

“Southard writes true blue collar characters who are achingly real and endearing, and monsters that absolutely terrify. While one might note echoes of Richard Laymon, Southard’s voice is all his own, and he uses it to deliver a compelling and powerfully enjoyable read.” ― Mary SanGiovanni, author of Beyond The Gate

“Wesley Southard’s writing thrums with uninhibited energy that’s both infectious and entertaining. Discovering Wesley’s work has been a joy, and you should seek out his books too. He’s definitely a writer to watch.” ― Jonathan Janz, author of The Siren and the Spector and Exorcist Falls

“Southard writes with an intensity not seen since the original splatterpunks. I devoured every page.” ― Wile E. Young, Splatterpunk Award-winning author of The Magpie Coffin

Cemetery Gates’ Upcoming Releases and Some Insight Into Small Press Publishing

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This is our biannual update about where our press is at and where it’s headed. This is kind of a companion piece to our presentation at the Buzz Book Expo that will take place September 17-18 https://www.buzzbookexpo.com/. If you’re a writer, editor, publisher, reviewer — involved or invested in dark fiction — it’s probably worth checking out at least some of the presentations to see where the genre’s at right now.

Release schedule:

September saw the release of Chandler Morrison’s #thighgap novella, #2 in the My Dark Library line. Paul Michael Anderson’s collection Everything Will Be All Right in the End: Apocalypse Songs was released soon thereafter. September 27th will see Kelsea Yu’s Bound Feet get its release, My Dark Library #3.

October 4th is Michael Harris Cohen’s collection Effects Vary release date. October 11th will be the release of Campfire Macabre: Volume 2.

November 8th will see the release of Wesley Southard’s collection They Mostly Come at Night, with introduction by Brian Keene. November 22nd is Tim McGregor’s Taboo in Four Colors release day, My Dark Library #4.

Early December our editors will announce the details for a 2023 dark academia themed anthology, with the open call coming sometime in early 2023. Tyler Jones’ novella Full Fathom Five will come out not long after.

Jan 2023 should see the release of P. L. Watts’ The Bonny Swans, My Dark Library #5. Our unique four author mini-collection anthology featuring Tantlinger, Farrenkopf, York, and Lagoe should also see its release in January.

Feb/March we wrap up the first series of My Dark Library with R.A. Busby’s Corporate Body, MDL #6.

April will likely feature Kenneth Cain’s collection.

Liminal Spaces: Strange Geographies ed. Kevin Lucia should be announcing the details for an open call around this time.

May will see the release of Stephanie Parent’s debut novel The Briars.

Late-August we aim to release Gemma Amor’s novella tentatively titled The Once Yellow House.

Salacious Behind the Scenes Stuff:

A project that has changed time and again, a compendium of non-fiction and fiction regarding original creepypastas, urban legends, folk horror, folklore essays, interviews with horror artists, and real creepy locations outside of N. America has enough material right now to release a neat book, but we want it to be exceptional, so there’s no release date set yet for that one. Jeff Provine is working on that book with us.

The goal is to begin an open call for Places We Fear to Tread: New York sometime in 2023. The first volume recently made back its $5500 investment, right around two years following release. Typically we pay about $4000-4500 to put out an anthology, but that one was especially pricey due to the number of stories we bought.

The formula for anthologies to break even seems to be about 60,000-70,000 words at $.05/word, then you buy your cover art, maybe have an editor or additional specialists to pay, spend a few hundred on promo. You need your four or five writer invitees that draw eyes to your book, sometimes you get them a little more for their trouble. We stopped doing invites for our main anthologies because it seemed like everyone else was inviting the same people and it was getting kind of stale. However, we still encourage the editors running our additional anthologies to invite folks and also do a broad open call.

Starting out a press by doing an anthology, or just doing one for fun, is probably the easiest way to lose a couple thousand dollars.

Publishing single-author collections largely of reprints is a terrible investment, though we love short stories so we’ll be looking to purchase some single-author themed collections. Basically, cool themes that would work well for anthologies also work well for collections. So if you’re going to write a dozen stories with shared characters or at least a cool setting, we’d be interested in hearing about your project. We want to put out mostly unpublished material.

There’s a certain amount of window dressing that we’ll continue to do, though begrudgingly, because it makes our authors feel good. The small press world is still trying to mimic our much wealthier brethren in big corporate publishing, and you honestly don’t have a chance doing it their way.

We’ve made most of our revenue through digital sales since 2020. We share our sales revenue with one other partner, not multiple. The Kindle Unlimited program is the Netflix for books. There’s no competitor. You can see books being read cover to cover, daily. There’s nothing comparable for tracking reader interest.

We sold 500 hardcovers of one title in 2017-2018. I’d give my first, second, and third born to sell another 500 hardcovers at $30+ — before taking into account paperback and electronic revenue — but we’re not PRH or a limited edition business, so why would we chase that? We’re a digital book seller because that’s where we can grow and that’s where PRH refuses to grow.   

We’ve done deals directly with independent booksellers since we started in 2015. We don’t do consignment or accept returns. A distributor who doesn’t provide you a salesperson to sell your books into stores is most likely going to cost you revenue. No offense, but the handful of cool book people who like horror aren’t going to change the business culture of the corporate behemoth who crushed indie booksellers in the 1990s.

Any small indie press less than 3 years on the scene offering an author less than 50% of paperback and eBook royalties is a huckster who couldn’t sell your book to your own mother.

Every single-author release (collection, novel, novella) is a minimum $1000-2000 investment. The new pub that puts out a couple books over the course of 18 months, then all of a sudden signs a dozen books for the following year, doesn’t seem to realize they need to actually have $12,000 in the bank in order to put those books out. There’s this weird idea that there are just thousands of people anxiously awaiting SpookyOoky Press’ entire catalog and they can sorta just float along and rely on sales to put out those next 8 books.

If you’re able to make an average of $3-4 per unit sold you only need to sell about 500 copies to break even on a book. Only 500 copies…release after release. 😉

Every press and author is going to have a book that tanks. When a couple of those happen in a row the smart small press types stop putting out books and reimagine themselves. There’s this hubris and excitement and a wanting to be on par with presses that have been around for 10, 15, 20+ years — when you know next to nothing about the business and have gotten some social media excitement for releasing a handful of books. The lifecycle of every press ends in either flaming disaster, sale to a bigger press, or more often than not, petering out and becoming utterly forgotten.

There’s been a spate of pubs not paying authors and canceling contracts for no good reason. You don’t have to make it public, but let some other pubs and editors know what’s going on so we don’t work with them and we’ll warn our authors about them.

To end on a good note; we’re putting together our final say on 20th century urban legends and folklore, our final homage to the scary stories we grew up with. We’ve picked out a dozen or so archetypical tales that we’re going to ask/beg certain writers to make their own. Such Things Happen: 13 Classic Tales Retold. We’ve been planning a book like this for years, and it might take a couple years to do it properly and release, but it’s going to be tremendous.

Get your stuff out there, cultivate your own readership, and enjoy what you write/publish/read/create!

Joe

Effects Vary

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Michael Harris Cohen’s collection will be released October 4th. Preorder the eBook here!

Effects Vary features 22 stories of dark fiction and literary horror that explore the shadow side of love, loss, and family. From an aging TV star’s murderous plan to rekindle her glory days, to a father who returns from war forever changed, from human lab rats who die again and again, to a farmer who obeys the dreadful commands of the sky, these stories, four of them award winners, blur the thin line between reality and the darkest reaches of the imagination.

Praise for Effects Vary

“The stories in Michael Cohen’s Effects Vary are sharp and hard-hitting, small blades that make one see the world through a dark and eerie lens. While these stories are chilling, what will stop you cold is how deeply they explore what makes us human. A must-read literary horror collection.”

Danielle Trussoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Ancestor and NYTBR Dark Matters columnist

“Cohen’s fictions are knife flashes, quick and deft and so sharp you don’t know you’ve been cut until the blood starts to flow. Whether he’s in the mines of South Africa, the court of Charles the IV in Spain, or in places that seem like odd doppelgängers of the ones we know, his work unsettles in the best possible ways.”

Brian Evenson, Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Award-Winning author of Song for the Unraveling of the World

“Cohen offers up a myriad of dark worlds, both real and supernatural, each exquisitely rendered, each with its own unnerving brand of darkness. Deeply eerie and unsettling, Effects Vary is a treasure trove of dark gems, written in a strong and distinct voice.”

A.C. Wise, Nebula and Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Ghost Sequences

A world of nightmares and haunted spaces that might crack open at any moment. Cohen’s prose is gorgeous and full of menace. I tore through this collection of dark delights.”

Lincoln Michel, author of The Body Scout

“Provocative, heartbreaking, and compelling—Effects Vary is the must-read collection of the year.”

Samantha Kolesnik, author of True Crime

“An adoration of the strange and spectral, Effects Vary is exemplary macabre literature.”

Eric J. Guignard, award-winning author and editor of That Which Grows Wild 

Effects Vary offers a rich and bleak sea of stories, dotted by islands of trapped and broken fragments shaped like people. It creeps into you, finds your unfilled corners, and claws them into deeper hollows. A startling and gripping collection.”

Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth

“A pleasure ride to hell. You will read Effects Vary with a scorched smile and a horrified heart. And then you will re-read it, as I did. An unforgettable collection.”

Martín Felipe Castagnet, author of Bodies of Summer and one of Granta‘s best of young Spanish-language novelists

“An exquisitely written collection steeped in sorrow, full of quiet pain and beauty. Hold each story in your mouth like a pearl but know that it will make your heart hurt in the loveliest of ways.”

Mercedes M. Yardley, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Little Dead Red

Everything Will Be All Right in the End

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Paperback and eBook now available here! Released on September 6th.

What happens…after?

In Everything Will Be All Right in the End: Apocalypse Songs, you’ll see the lengths a father will go in order to protect his child, the emptiness that revenge can harness, gods compelled to act after being forgotten, a boy carrying the weight of decisions he didn’t make, and monsters both within and without. You’ll meet people who have lost everything, faced everything, lived through the worst that could happen, attempted to pick up the pieces of their shattered realities, and you will hear their apocalypse songs.

Listen closely.

Praise for Paul Michael Anderson

“Everything Will Be All Right in the End is a breathtaking accomplishment. An incredible collection of visceral, unforgettable stories, Paul Michael Anderson’s brand of horror is as heart-stopping as it is heart-wrenching. This one’s sure to be among the very best collections of 2022.” —Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens and Reluctant Immortals

“What I love about this collection is that every dark, original, and unsettling story ends with a satisfying resolution. Sometimes the horror wins, but more often than not, there was a light at the end of the tunnel—and it wasn’t a train bearing down, but a flashlight showing the way out. And that’s what I need right now, more hope, amidst the horror.” —Richard Thomas, author of Spontaneous Human Combustion

“Every Paul Michael Anderson story feels like an all-time classic that’s been around for half a century. These stories are confident, heartbreaking, and full of original, exciting ideas. Nobody has a finger closer to the pulse of human emotion than Paul Michael Anderson.” —Max Booth III, author of We Need to Do Something

Spinal Remains

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The eBook and paperback are now available here! Released August 9th.

In his third short story collection, Lutzke offers yet another blender-tossed concoction of fiction colored dark. Fourteen tales covering a multitude of subgenres, including: psychological, crime, extreme, human horrors, bizarre, coming-of-age, and humor.

SPINAL REMAINS is the perfect illustration of why collections are so important. If you think you know Chad Lutzke, travel down these paths that take you far from expectations. At turns nostalgic, horrifying and downright disgusting, but always intensely human and gorgeously written. My favorite Lutzke so far.”

Laurel Hightower, author of CROSSROADS and BELOW

Twilight At The Gates

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Preorder the eBook here! To be released July 19th.

Twilight at the Gates is a short story collection written in homage to programs that once featured speculative tales such as The Twilight Zone. Mark Allan Gunnells is a master craftsman of the short story form and in these stories and poems he hopes to proffer the weird, the strange, and the uncanny from the darkest recesses of his psyche.

A couple watches night after night as the stars quietly disappear, breathlessly waiting for their own star to fade…

A group trapped in an abominable situation, a storm of the century with no end in sight…


Stories dealing with time travel, grief, and even a Halloween tale await readers of Twilight at the Gates.

Beautiful Atrocities

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Order the Beautiful Atrocities eBook and paperback here!

Beautiful Atrocities collects eighteen stories of literary dark fiction from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Ross Jeffery, who terrified us with the sensational Juniper Series. These chilling stories run the gamut of modern horror and will leave the reader entertained, breathless and horrified in equal measure but still wanting to turn the page.

This is a masterful debut collection from one of horror’s bright shining lights.

“Even though most of the stories contained in this collection deal with cruelty in some form, one must not forget the importance of the word “beauty” when coupled with the word “cruelty.” Ross executes these moments of barbarity, of viciousness, of unbridled depravity with the tenderness and care of an accomplished surgeon. Of course, this unique coupling of “beauty” and “cruelty” conjures the likes of writers who have dabbled in the area before with uncompromising skill and verve. I think of authors such as Clive Barker or Michael McDowell—veterans of the grotesquely beautiful horror, writers who conjured the most horrific and unsettling images and rendered them as things of beauty.”

Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

CGM Summer Update 2022

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Michael Harris Cohen has appeared in three of our anthologies and his first collection The Eyes: A Novella & Stories came out quite some time ago. We’re fans of his, so when he sent us a manuscript for a new collection it was easy to slot him into our schedule for the fall. Here’s the cover reveal for his book Effects Vary:

Art by Matthew Revert

This summer we’ll have a bit of a rapid fire release of collections and novellas. Starting July 5th LP Hernandez’ novella Stargazers will have its official release via Mother Horror’s My Dark Library line. Then collections from Ross Jeffery, Mark Allan Gunnells, Chad Lutzke, and Paul Michael Anderson will be available. My Dark Library novellas #2 from Chandler Morrison and #3 Kelsea Yu should appear in September. The art for these books is either finished or in the works and should be spoiled in the next month or so.

But before those books come out we’ll have our open call for Campfire Macabre: Volume 2

The details for this call are up on our submissions page. We’re looking for flash stories for our five themes. The first Campfire Macabre was a really fun book to put together, and though it was a pricey book to fund, it broke even earlier this year.

Places We Fear to Tread is one of our bestselling books and the sequel will have an open call in either the late-autumn or early winter. John and I started out this publishing business with the idea that if we could sell some books we might be able to fund future books. We sold enough books between 2015-2019 to fund every idea we wanted to write together, so having accomplished the small goals we set for ourselves it was either end Cemetery Gates or begin publishing the work of others. Once we publish the sequel to Places We Fear to Tread in 2023 we’ll have put out the variety of anthologies we had in mind when we began publishing group anthologies in 2019.

There’s a theme here. We’re doing this as a hobby and once we see through the books we’re passionate about we move on to something new. Our series of anthologies will likely conclude next year, our series of collections should conclude next year(there’s another author or two we hope to announce in the coming weeks!), while I don’t see any end to our interest in putting out novellas — we have horror nonfiction, middle-grade, and additional children’s books in the works.

The idea we began with was always incremental growth. We knew that we had to learn every aspect of the book business as writers and publishers. We have heard grumblings along the way, the subtweets about how we operate our publishing house, our reliance on Amazon for sales, printing, and distribution. It’s good for a laugh. We’re here to put out the books we want to see in the world and pay artists and authors their fair share, and we’ll continue to do so as long as readers keep buying our books.

-Joe

Picnic in the Graveyard

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Paperback and Ebook now available here.

Picnic in the Graveyard is an anthology of cemetery horrors. This book contains 1 poem and 21 stories of the supernatural, all-too-human, wacky, scary, and somber.

A family reunion in the cemetery goes according to plan, until it doesn’t…

Mafiosos dig up a very special lady for their boss, but soon regret disturbing her resting place…

A young man is dared by his friends to venture into Cemetery Joe’s ramshackle cabin. Turns out, there’s much more to Joe’s story than your typical garden variety necrophiliac…

Table of Contents:

“Storybook Hill” Shane Douglas Keene

“Angels With Broken Wings” Nicole Willson

“The Potion” Mark Allan Gunnells

“The Words Beneath” Michael Harris Cohen

“A Warm Fall Day” L. Marie Wood

“Date Night” Bev Vincent

“Moving Mackenzie” Tim Meyer

“La Cesse’s Secret” Catherine McCarthy

“Make Me Shine” Mark Towse

“St. Mark’s Eve” Stephanie Ellis

“Why the Wind Blows” Nuzo Onoh

“We All Fall” Alex Ebenstein

“The Young Thaumaturge” Samantha Kolesnik

“Remembrance” Tom Deady

“The Crazy with Daisy” R.J. Joseph

“Why Bob Lee Came Back” Nick Kolakowski

“Death and Life in a Small Town” JG Faherty

“In the Jaws of a Beautiful Beast” J.A.W. McCarthy

“The Merry” Alex Woodroe

“Goombahs in the Graveyard” Kenneth W. Cain

“The Night Will Let It In” Michael Kelly

“Cemetery Joe” LP Hernandez