The good folks at Spine Bookstore & Cafe in St. Louis, Missouri sent me this picture of The Lost Librarian’s Grave ensconced happily on their shelves. From the pictures I’ve seen on their website, Spine has a lot of interesting-looking books and a nice cafe menu, including a nip of the hard stuff if you are so inclined. So if you are in the area, drop in and say hello. Tell ’em Ann sent you!
As for our next, upcoming dark anthology,Superstition, things are moving quickly now and we are acquiring more stories every day. I’ve been announcing some of them on Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll be talking about some of them on the blog in a bit more depth soon.
The image below is a “composite image” collected by Nasa’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, which is part of their Juno mission to Jupiter. There is an interesting article here if you’d like to know more about it.
When I saw this, I immediately thought this storm (or storms?) would make for a nice writing prompt. Cosmic Horror is the first thing that comes to mind for me, but I’m sure there are a lots of other possibilities.*
One idea for writing prompts I’ve been seeing a lot of lately (again, on Twitter mainly) is a six-word story prompt or some other number of words. Besides being fairly easy, I find such a prompt serves as a nice vehicle to explore possible story ideas or sketch out a broad theme. If I can’t think of something pithy that encapsulates a story with a beginning and end then perhaps something leading into a theme. This type of prompt could also serve as a entry point into a poem, either using the technique in a similar way as brainstorming for a story or perhaps coming up with a line that inspires a larger poem.
I could see this image-as-a-prompt working in other mediums, such as painting or drawing, music, or even making a quilt … pretty much anything.
Can you think of a six word story using the above image as an inspiration? If so, drop it in the comments.
* I originally saw this on Twitter, courtesy of Science Fiction writer Bert-Oliver Boehmer (@BOliverBoehmer).
We have cast the stones, made sure the portal horseshoe is nailed with the luck pointing up, mumbled fervent prayers, and made oblations to our gods and patrons of fortune for the success of our upcoming anthology, Superstition. I’m happy to say that our initial rituals have met with success: Don and I have accepted Juleigh Howard-Hobson’s dark poem (or “sonnet spell”), “When I Start Leaving These By The Tree That Grows In Front Of Your House, You Will Wish You Never Met Me.”
I enjoy Juleigh’s longer titles, which she uses for some of her poems. They seem like more than just an introduction but an integrated part of the body of the poem itself. Besides being interesting to me for its own sake, this also allows her to deviate from each line containing ten syllables as she does with this offering.
Juleigh is best known as a poet and her work has appeared in many publications including TheDeadlands,Dreams & Nightmares, Eye to the Telescope, Polu Texni, 34 Orchard, Midnight Echo, Noir Nation, and of course The Lost Librarian’s Grave to name just a few. Her latest collection of “sonnet spells” is titled Curses, Black Spells and Hexes and published by Alien Buddha Press.
(The anthology is 44% full. Guidelines last updated: Aug 13th)
Closed to poetry but still open for short fiction.
What we are looking for: Horror and dark fiction based around the theme of superstition in the broad sense. We are open to multi-genre stories as long as the horror or darkness is there.
“A belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.” (dictionary.com)
The superstitions can come from real life or be things you make up. What we’d like to see are stories where superstition prominently figures and directly drives the story in a major way.It isn’t enough if superstition is implied or the story merely features some mysterious and/or fantastic elements. We aren’t looking for stories where the primary point is to explain the origins of a superstition. The superstition can be something that ends up being bad, good, useful, mixed, etc.
If you want some examples of the sorts of things we have published consider checking out The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology on Amazon. It is free to read if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. Some general points:
Please remember this is primarily a horror and dark fiction anthology. I look favorably on multi-genre tales and the unusual as long as the darkness is there. I ended up rejecting quite a number of stories for our last anthology because they weren’t dark enough.
Most of the stories will probably have grim or otherwise unhappy endings but they don’t all have to. Sometimes a dark story can have certain touching elements or a happy or bittersweet ending. These stories tend to stand out because we don’t receive many and having one or two in an anthology can offer a nice change of pace. Two that stood out to me that we published in The Lost Librarian’s Grave were “Good Boy Anyway” by Briana Una McGuckin and “The Little People” by Kurt Newton. Another story of this ilk that also stands out to me is “Weary Bones” published in Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor.
If your story includes some sort of mystery as a major element or is a detective story, try to come up with some twist or something unexpected. I look more favorably on such stories if I can’t figure them out until I get near or at the end. I think Doyle and Christie both did this well with their detective stories.
No fan fiction, including H.P. Lovecraft stories though general cosmic horror is certainly welcome.
Not looking for stories that are preachy or with a slant toward current politics. On the other hand, stories that explore general themes in a timeless way are fine. A few that I think are well-done include Fahrenheit 451, The Lottery, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Slaughterhouse-Five to name three examples.
No explicit sexual content.
Here are some things Don and I don’t want to see, either because they are a hard sell or because we’ve already selected work featuring such things:
Stories involving breaking mirrors or mirrors in general.
Superstitions about black cats being pivotal to the tale.
Nothing set during or near the time of the American Civil War.
No changelings or dryads.
No more hags, witches, or old women as villains.
Here are some things I’d like to see and will get a priority read if you let me know in your submission email:
A story where astrology figures prominently from a writer who is knowledgeable about the subject.
A tale set in the ancient world but without using a famous person as a major character. Bonus points if it isn’t ancient Greece or Rome.
A swords & sorcery-horror tale with an emphasis on superstition, of course.
Above, I mentioned no more witches, etc. but I wouldn’t mind seeing a story or two with a warlock, sorcerer, etc.
A story set on a ship or submarine in any period from the ancient world to modern times.
A story involving pro wrestling from someone who has some experience inside that business.
Deadline: We will close the anthology when it is filled and update these guidelines periodically to let everyone know how things are progressing.
Payment: $0.02/word for unpublished prose, payable after we agree on any needed edits. Payment is based on the word count of the story after editing. We can pay via Paypal or (if you are in the US) Zelle. We will also provide an electronic copy of the anthology to all contributors. Note that Redwood Press does pay a kill fee if we sign a contract to use your work and later opt out of doing so.
Rights: We purchase First English Language World Anthology Rights for publication in paperback and electronic editions anywhere in the world for one year after the publication date. After that, we retain Nonexclusive English Language World Anthology Rights to the work in paperback and electronic editions.
Reprints: No reprints.
Manuscript: Please send your work as a *.docx or *.doc file. Something close to the Shunn Modern Manuscript Format is appreciated. One big thing is please do not manually indent or space for paragraph breaks. Please set Word (or your word processor of choice) to do this automatically.
Story Length: We are looking for stories from 1000 to 6000 words, though we’ll initially be keeping a special eye out for prose in the 2500 – 4000 word range. As that changes we’ll update the guidelines accordingly. We like to publish a range of different story lengths in our anthologies, including one novella if we get one that impresses all three of us.
Simultaneous & Multiple Submissions, and Response Time: You may send your work to other publishers while Don, Occasum, and I are making our decision. All we ask is you let us know you are sending us a simultaneous submission and also tell us know if someone picks up your work before we do.
Please send only one story at a time. If we reject your story you may send a second story if you wish. Please do not send more than two stories for this submission call unless we invite you to do so.
We will acknowledge receipt of your work usually on the same day but no longer than 3 days after we receive it. If you haven’t heard from us within that time, please feel free to query. Response time is up to 60 days though we’ll try to do better than this. If we don’t get back to you within that time frame you may contact us for a speedy update.
American English: We ask that you write your story in American English. We don’t expect you to be an expert in American English if you are used to writing in some other form of English; we are happy to make small changes here and there. However, if your story is set in a place or there is another reason why this would be appropriate, please feel free to add a few non-American English words where they would add flavor.
Feedback: We rarely provide feedback if we reject a story because of time constraints. We are more likely (if time allows) to provide short feedback if Don and I have previously published your work in one of our other anthologies.
Author Biography: A bio is optional when you initially send us your work. If we publish your story or poetry, we’ll ask for a 50 – 150 word biography.
Where to Send Your Work: Please send your prose and poetry to Ann Wycoff, Editor, email@example.com on or after July 1st. Include “Superstition,” the title of your story, and the word count in your email title. If you are sending poetry, instead of your title and line count, indicate how many poems you are sending.
The first is by Kat Kinney of Kat’s Reviews, who is an author active on Goodreads. She has quite a few books out involving werewolves, which look interesting. I plan on checking out some of her work myself on Kindle Unlimited soon.
Kat wrote: “This was an excellent anthology of horror and dark fiction short stories and also included some poems that I especially enjoyed as well. The entire collection was well edited and formatted and I enjoyed every contribution.”
Blue bottles hanging from a tree won’t hold
a ghost forever. Trees will die, branches
will break, blue bottles will fall. I’ve been told
that after a bottle shatters, what was
inside it is unrecognizable
as a ghost anymore, having been turned
into a cold mass of hate over all
that time stuck in that blue prison, concerned
with one thing and only one: revenge on
whoever hung those bottles. Ghosts can take
as long as they need to find a person,
and they always do, living or dead, makes
no difference. A ghost, once freed from its glass
will ruthlessly avenge its bottled past.
Juleigh’s poem has been nominated for the Rhysling Award, which is given out annually by the Science Fiction Poetry Association, which publishes and promotes genre-oriented verse. A big, well-deserved congratulations go out to Juleigh and all of the other nominees.
As far as I can tell, the only ones not happy about it are the ghosts, who are tired of looking at the world through cerulean-colored glass, perhaps.
“The Problem with the Bottling of Troublesome Spirits” first appeared in The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology this year (2021) along with verse by two other poets and almost 400 pages of lovely, dark short stories on subjects ranging from grave robbing to gargoyles, from the leech-people apocalypse to leprechauns … and so much more.
I putThe Lost Librarian’s Grave ebook on sale for $0.99 (or £0.99) on Amazon through their “Countdown Deal” the platform will let one periodically run. So if you’ve been thinking of picking up the ebook and haven’t yet, it’ll be almost 80% off until December 25th.*
Thus far, interest has been brisk, which pleases me, and I’m knocking around some ideas for the next book, which I’m going to get started with as soon as my husband’s holiday vacation ends in early January.
I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season thus far and that the fun continues.
* If you have already read the anthology, I’d greatly appreciate a short review on Amazon if you have the inclination. “I liked it,” or “It wasn’t completely awful,” etc. would be lovely. 🙂
Some promotional graphics for The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology. If you are a reviewer or are otherwise spreading the word, please feel free to use and modify these graphics for your review or post.
I received a proof copy of The Lost Librarian’s Grave from Amazon today with a matte cover. I’m happy with how it came out, though I do think I’m going to move the “Tales of Madness…” over to the left just a tad and the “Edited by” over a bit to the left as well, near that outside rusty talon.
I have a bunch of points on the credit card I use for Amazon, so I ordered a second copy, this time with a glossy cover. While, like I said, I’m pleased with this cover, the colors aren’t as vibrant as I expected. Amazon says that the glossy covers tend to have more vibrant colors, so we’ll see.
Also, I went with cream-colored paper instead of the white paper for the second copy, so I could see the difference. I probably wouldn’t have gone to all of this trouble if I didn’t have the points.
I’ll post again when I get the second copy and the paperback will go live soon after that. In the meantime, for those who prefer to read ebooks, the anthology can be read for free with Kindle Unlimited and of course can be all yours for $4.99, though I’ll probably be doing a sale soon.
I’m very pleased to write that The Lost Librarian’s Grave ebook is now available on Amazon. I changed the home page to announce the book, along with some of the information we’ve been posting on this blog recently.