Superstition: Book One of the “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doom” Series Writer Guidelines

Opens on July 1st, 2022

Last Updated: June 23, 2022

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.

Superstition

“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 that 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, and I think are well-done include Fahrenheit 451, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Slaughterhouse-Five to name three examples.
  • No explicit sexual content.

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 and $0.03/word for unpublished poetry, payable after we agree on any needed edits. Payment is based on the word count of the story or poem 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.

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 English-language reprints. We will consider a limited number of reprints of stories and poems that are English-language translations to which you own the rights and have never appeared in English.

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 and Poetry Length: We are looking for stories from 500 to 10,000 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.

Poems can be of any length up to 100 lines, though poems that are 50 lines or less will have a better chance. (Please make sure you indicate the number of lines in each poem.) We are also willing to print 2 or 3 very short poems on the same page. This could be especially effective if the short poems are all related or work together in some way. The anthology will feature 4 – 8 pages of poetry so I anticipate we’ll close early for poetry.

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 and up to ten poems. You may send a story and poetry at the same time, but please do so under separate emails. 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 where 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: There is no need to send a biography 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, redwoodpresseditors@gmail.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 Problem with the Bottling of Troublesome Spirits by Juleigh Howard-Hobson nominated for Rhysling Award

The Problem with the Bottling of Troublesome Spirits

by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

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.


“The Problem with the Bottling of Troublesome Spirits” © 2021 Juleigh Howard-Hobson. Used with permission of the author.

The Lost Librarian’s Grave Ebook on Sale for $/£ 0.99 on Amazon!

I put The 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. 🙂

The Lost Librarian’s Grave Promotional Graphics

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.

E-Book Cover (500 x 800 pixels)

E-Book Cover (1600 x 2560 Pixels)

Paperback Front Cover (500 x 752 Pixels)

Paperback Back Cover (500 x 720 Pixels)

Book Graphic (666 x 1122 Pixels)

Received The Lost Librarian’s Grave Paperback Proof Copy Today

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.

The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and dark fiction anthology available

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.

Buy the Ebook or Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Don and I are working on the paperback now, which we plan on also making available on Amazon later this month.

Pretty exciting stuff!

— Ann

The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Table of Contents Reveal

Our debut ebook anthology is going to be available on Amazon in a couple of days, so I thought this would be a fun time to post our table of contents.

The book contains 36 short stories, including one novella, and four poems. It is a sizeable tome!

What is more, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you’ll be able to read the ebook for free. Of course one can buy the Grave for $4.99, though I’m planning on running a sale for October.

The book has the usual table of contents listing the stories and poems in the order they appear, but we also collected up the stories by theme under happy categories such as “Demon-Haunted World,” and “The Dead, the Mad, and the Terrified,” and (of course) “A Murder of Gargoyles.” A few of them, naturally, could go in more than one category but as editor I had to make the final call and I did!

The idea is that some people like to read anthologies in order and other people like to skip around the book. So we provided a guide for both sorts of readers. (I’m a skip around type of reader.)

Preface: How I Found the Grave of a Lost Librarian.

“The Savage Night” by Pedro Iniguez

“Inside a Refrigerator” by Adrian Ludens

“Medusa’s Mirror” by Paul L. Bates

“The Maze of Moonlight and Mirrors” by Gerri Leen (poem)

“Ocular” by Nidheesh Samant

“Voyage of the PFV-4” by David Rose

“The Infinity of Worse” by Ken Hueler

“Snake and Sinew, Flame and Bone” by Amanda Cecelia Lang

“They Never Left” by Matthew McKiernan

“Face to Face” by Tom Leveen

“The Problem of Bottling Troublesome Spirits” by Juleigh Howard-Hobson (poem)

“Rathbone” by Zach Ellenberger

“The Ocean’s Misfortune” by Alison McBain

“The Jump” by Pauline Yates

“Good Boy Anyway” by Briana Una McGuckin

“Bottled Rage” by Owen Auch

“Death, and the Scent of Tea” by Cheryl Zaidan

“The Artist” by Mike Murphy

“The Woman in the Wallpaper” by Gregory L. Norris

“Gargoyles of the World, Unite!” by Mary Jo Rabe

“The Grotesque” by Rhonda Parrish (poem)

“Devil’s Oak” by Mary Leoson

“The Day in Gold” by Adele Gardner

“He Gets Hungry Sometimes” by Carol Gyzander

“Valhalla is a Lie” by Benjamin Thomas

“Aegir’s Son” by Edward Ahern

“Butterflies of the Longest Night” by Russell Hemmell

“Odd Job Tom” by Eddie Generous

“Penance” by J.V. Gachs

“Cold Storage” by Jude Reid

“Nature versus Nurture” by Gerri Leen (poem)

“Three Bad Things” by Kathy Kingston

“Blooms of Darkness” by Melissa Miles

“Among Stars and Stones” by Brandon Barrows

“The Little People” by Kurt Newton

“A Bed Both Long and Narrow” by Sipora Coffelt

“The Clearing” by Helen Power

“The Binding of Chrysanthoula” by Angeliki Radou

“The Glorious Protection of Angels” by Michelle Ann King

“Mother Winter” by Matthew Chabin

I will post again once the ebook becomes available in a couple of days. After that, I’ll be working on the paperback version, which I’m planning on publishing later in October.

The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Back Cover Text

We’re putting the finishing touches on The Lost Librarian’s Grave ebook, and Don and I finished sorting out the book description, which we put near the beginning of the ebook. This description will also be on the back cover of the paperback, which I’m working on now..

I also added the black and white illustration on the same page of the ebook. I don’t necessary think you need to wear protective gear when reading this lovely book, but I’m not seeing it isn’t a good idea either.

Welcome, mortal. You have finally discovered that place they told you about where hope crawls off to die.

Where sorcery, vile experiments, and the supernatural are as real as killers from around the corner and those things you cannot see that buzz and wriggle and chew narrow, twisting tunnels under your skin and inside your skull.

Surrender to the unclean darkness living in this malevolent tome. Treat yourself to a bevy of tales where revenge, greed, and malice are the orders of the day and watchwords of pitiless night.

Travel through blood-stained vistas set in forgotten pasts, along rolling centuries of iron and pain, into the strange apocalypses of our present day and several possible near futures. Enjoy this diverse collection of horror, leavened with an osseous dusting of bizarre adventures, verse, and weird fiction written by a loose cabal of thirty-nine authors from around the world.

Unearth… The Lost Librarian’s Grave!

The Lost Librarian’s Grave Title Page Reveal

Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology, and I’ll be hard at it for the rest of the month. Today I’m formatting the ebook, which will run into tomorrow as well.

I’m the meantime, I took a screenshot of the title page, which I think is pretty nifty, but of course I biased. As is often the case, click on the image if you want to see a larger picture.

Back to work!

Tweaked the Ebook Cover for The Lost Librarians Grave

Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology, which is good because October will be here before we know it. Today I tweaked the ebook cover a little, giving the gargoyle a bit of an aura or glowing effect, as well as a few other things.

I also decided to put some author names on the cover. It was very hard to decide* so the three of us each picked our favorite story–none of us liked the same one the best. This was easy for Don, a bit harder for Occasum, and very hard for me because I liked all the stories and had several favorites for differing reasons.

Then I added another author because I have misspelled their name now about a dozen times, and while not a huge deal it seemed a way of balancing the scales and achieving some literary Maat. Finally, we all agreed that we had to put Matthew Chabin on the cover because his ten thousand word-and-then-some “Mother Winter” is by far the longest story in the anthology, besides being a great read with an ending I thought very suitable for wrapping up our anthology.

I wanted seven names, because everyone knows that seven is a lucky number, and since all of the authors belong on the cover, I rolled a die twice and left the decision to good Renenet.

As always, suggestions and feedback are appreciated. I’m still toying with the idea of taking the “33” out as well as a couple of other things.


* Again, for purposes of Maat, I decided that the other twenty-seven authors and three poets should be on the front cover too, even if the only people who know it are you and me. So I typed in the remaining thirty names, then occluded them by means of technology both vast and dark. The scales are balanced!