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Saturday, March 9, 2024

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

I have been an Active member of the Horror Writers Association since 2007. Over the course of my 17-year membership, I served two terms as their secretary, another six years as a member of their Board of Trustees, and three years on their Scholarship Committee. Solo, I coordinated the HWA’s presence at BookExpo (then North America’s largest trade show for booksellers) from 2009 to 2015. This entailed booth selection and physical prep, scheduling member authors for book signings, maintaining financial records of funds (which I often laid out to be reimbursed later), and taking time off work to be there from early in the morning until the show closed each day. In 2011, I chaired both Stoker Weekend (the prototype and precursor to what has become StokerCon) and the Stoker Awards in New York (with the lovely Nanci Kalanta).

All of this was volunteer work—and all of it performed because I was committed to what the HWA was doing and believed, deeply, in their mission.

In 2022, I co-edited the HWA anthology Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology, which became one of the organization’s most critically-lauded original anthologies—earning starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus and nominations for both the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards. I think it’s fair to say that the anthology’s critical reception bestowed a modicum of prestige upon the organization.

On New Year’s Day, I received an email that my membership in the HWA had lapsed—oops! I forgot to renew my dues, which I had done faithfully for the 16 years prior, and made a mental note to do so after celebrating the holiday.

Long story short: I forgot.

I continued to receive emails (about spirited giving, Summer Scares, even received an invitation to contribute to the 2024 StokerCon souvenir book) and the newsletter so it slipped my mind that I had neglected to pay my dues. I never received a single email or nudge from anyone in the HWA after New Year’s Day. (As a point of context, during my years of service on the Board, we used to divvy up the non-renewals to see if anyone had a personal relationship or rapport with those members and would reach out to see if their failure to renew was an oversight or an intentional choice due to some issue we’d then try to help resolve.)

Flash forward to February 21st. I received another email from the HWA announcing the final ballot for the Stoker Awards—and quickly realized with a start that I had never received a ballot to vote on the preliminary ballot. That jogged my memory that I needed to pay my dues, which I did that weekend. I messaged the organization’s Executive Director who instructed me to email the appropriate party “to make sure you can vote on the final ballot.”

I did as instructed and received an impersonal email that began, "Per the Bram Stoker Awards rules…" Cut to the chase: You were tardy paying your dues, so you don’t get to vote. (I paraphrase.)

Gobsmacked is the word that best captures the moment. No explanation of this rule (that basically says that if you’re not a member in good standing on January 31st, you can’t vote) was given. I can only assume that it’s meant to dissuade/prohibit an influx of new members after the preliminary ballot is released for the sole purpose of voting. But, again, I’m a 17-year member who has dependably paid in excess of $1,000 in dues over that time—I don’t think any reasonable person could think my renewal was predicated on wanting to help stack the vote in someone’s favor. The org’s Executive Director graciously offered to take up a fight on my behalf, but there should have been no dispute over this situation in the first place. I think I have more than exemplified "a member in good standing" for almost two decades.

<sigh>

The HWA has grown in size and stature—and deservedly so. The downside of this growth, of course, is that the larger an organization grows, the greater the risk that is sacrifices its personal touch and loses sight of its own history and those who have helped contribute to its success. 

It was time for a self-assessment. What does the HWA offer me?

I don’t need a mentor;
I don’t need access to their health insurance;
Their latest anthology call (there’s one per year if we’re lucky) afforded three member slots—statistically a joke. (By contrast, my co-editor and I managed more than triple that number on Other Terrors, which was published by William Morrow.)
Neither their jury system (put in place largely to balance the popularity contest aspect of the member vote) nor their membership have put a single LGBTQ+/queer horror anthology on the ballot since 2008. Likewise, not a single queer horror anthology has won since that same year. In fact, only one queer horror anthology has been nominated in the history of the category, which originated in 1998. A single queer horror anthology in 26 years. As a queer anthologist, this depresses me to no end. #StokersSoStraight?
Now, I can’t even vote in the Stokers, punished for my tardiness in paying my dues. Twenty-five days meant the difference between being able to cast my vote for the worthy works I read last year and having to sit the year out. 
There are other grievances over the years—minor and otherwise—that I could elaborate on that have made me feel increasingly alienated and less than. But those are largely based on emotions, so I’ll leave those out of this otherwise fact-based account. 

I have been a vocal supporter of the HWA, a pom-pom shaking cheerleader, even when doing so strained friendships with professional colleagues back in the day. The volunteer hours I have freely donated over the last 17 years would easily equal in the tens of thousands of dollars if quantified, as do the volunteer hours of the countless volunteers—past and present—who have kept the organization running year after year. I realize that I’m nothing special—and with a single email earlier this week, the HWA drove that point home. Message received.

Every relationship comes to a crossroads at some point, and I find myself standing at mine with the HWA. I’ve come to realize that I no longer benefit from being a member, so I take my bow and exit stage right. Since I can’t even vote, I requested a refund of my just paid membership dues. My $75 is but a mere blip on the radar that no one will even notice. The HWA will continue to flourish, as it should. It’s in the capable hands of good, hard-working folks. Its mission and work are important for the survival and success of the genre. It’s a bittersweet goodbye, yes, but why continue an association that no longer brings either joy or benefit? As the old—albeit clich√©—adage goes, all good things must come to an end. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Case for Anthologists

Discussion has cropped up on the Internet regarding anthologies and the editors who curate them and the writers who contribute stories to them. An open letter to the varies bodies that administer speculative fiction awards has been circulating that calls for Best Anthology awards to be awarded to each contributor of the anthology, as well as the editor(s). The proposal calls for an “equal share of the award” for each contributor. Part of the justification for this is that the editors “have not contributed a single story” to the anthology.

First, and foremost, I appreciate the discussion and the civility that has ensued despite differing opinions. I did not immediately weigh in on the issue, preferring instead to sit back and listen to the opinions of others—of those on both sides of this discussion—for a bit on various social media sites. But in some of the responses, loaded words like “injustice” and “inequity” and “unfair” have been introduced into the discourse.

Speaking specifically from the horror-side of the equation, as a point of clarification, the Shirley Jackson Awards have 6 categories—five are exclusively for writers, one for editors (the Edited Anthology category). The Bram Stoker Awards have 13 categories—eleven are exclusively for writers with one solely for editors (Superior Achievement in an Anthology) and a second (Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction) that could be won by either a writer or an editor. Are 2 to 3 editor-eligible awards out of 19 really an "injustice" or constitute "inequity" as has been characterized elsewhere? Neither one of these award bodies have a "Best Editor" award. So, at least in the cases of these two genre awards, an 85/15 split for writers and editors seems more than equitable.

I have both edited anthologies and contributed original works to others. When the editors of anthologies to which I've contributed have been nominated for an award, I celebrate them. I understand that my role was to write a story (or submit something already finished) and cash the check for said story. On occasion, that may include a few hours of research. Even after this business transaction, I still try to be a good cheerleader for the anthology's success. As a contributor, those were my obligations. As an editor, I'm responsible for developing the concept/theme, developing the pitch that sells the anthology to a publisher or convinces an agent of its potential to sell, negotiating an advance that ensures I can pay contributors at or above the prevailing professional rate (or bankrolling that portion myself in advance), reading through hundreds of slush pile submissions, notifying each author who submits of their story's acceptance or rejection, preparing author contracts/agreements, sending them out, and tracking their return. As the editor, I'm editing each one of the stories and working with the contributors on revisions, deciding on the TOC order, proofreading each story in the manuscript at least twice (usually more), pulling the manuscript together into one document, writing the introduction, working with the publisher on the cover concept and art, and proofreading the manuscript after it's been formatted. As the editor, I'm engaged in the pre-release marketing—email interviews, virtual interviews and podcasts, social media boosts—keeping the contributors updated on reviews and award nominations. For Other Terrors, my co-editor purchased and mailed each contributor a t-shirt with the anthology's cover on it at her own expense in celebration of the anthology and everyone who contributed to it.

So, respectfully, no, I do not believe that an award nomination or win for an edited anthology should be equally shared, as has been proposed. Each one of contributing writers has opportunities to be recognized for their work as a contributor to an anthology in one of several short fiction categories in those same awards. So why the call to dilute the anthologist’s single opportunity to be recognized within either of these awards bodies? Using Other Terrors, as an example, one of our contributors—the magnificent Tananarive Due—was recognized for her contribution to the anthology with a Locus Award nomination for her superb closer “Incident at Bear Creek Lodge” in the Novelette category. The anthology itself was not nominated. Should Rena and I—as editors of that story in our anthology—also been recognized as Locus nominees because (under the proposal’s logic) anthologies are a group effort? Of course not—that’s ludicrous. Likewise, it’s ludicrous to equate the amount of labor, time, and creativity that an anthologist pours into curating a 100k-word collection with the writer’s (inarguably valuable) single story contribution for which they have ample opportunity for awards recognition on their own. Again, with an 85/15 split between writers and editors in terms of awards eligibility in both the Shirley Jackson and Bram Stoker Awards, there is hardly a case that can be made for inequity.

Using an analogy from another art form, let’s take movies to illustrate the point here. Like an anthology, it takes numerous artists of various kinds to create a film. There is the film’s director, the actors, the producers, the screenwriter, the costume and set designers, the cameraman, the publicists, and countless others—many individuals who contribute to the success of a film. When a film is nominated for and wins an Academy Award for Best Picture, the producers win the actual award. The actors and everyone else involved in the film get bragging rights to having been featured in/worked on an Oscar-winning film, but the honor is bestowed upon the producer(s) (i.e., the person(s) who oversees the film’s production, the person(s) who plans and coordinates various aspects of the film’s creation, such as selecting the script, coordinating writing, directing, editing, and arranging financing).

As someone who strives to be a good and professional anthologist, I think the contributors should always be acknowledged and thanked in public forums; when I won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology in 2009, I named each contributor in my acceptance speech. If OTHER TERRORS was to win the SJA, the same would occur. Throughout the process for OTHER TERRORS and my latest anthology, contributors were repeatedly tagged in each and every social media post highlighting a starred review or notable mention. I even asked the art department at Harper Collins to design a graphic celebrating the anthology's SJA nomination (which they happily did) and I immediately emailed every contributor to thank them for being a part of the anthology and to offer them the graphic to share. I think only 4 out of 20+ contributors actually did.

That all said, while I still hold to the idea that it's the editor(s) who is credited with the nomination or award for an edited anthology, I see absolutely no harm in a certificate being bestowed upon the contributors acknowledging that their story was included in an anthology that was nominated and/or won the <insert award name here> award. As was said elsewhere, contributors still get bragging rights for being included in said anthology, on top of being paid for their work (hopefully at or above the prevailing per word rate, as they should).

Saturday, April 22, 2023

First Love and Loss (or For Jimmy)

I was 18 the first time I fell in love. Not the love-is-patient-love-is-kind sort of love, but the kind of love that one—if you’re lucky—experiences at the cusp of adulthood when the emotions are adult, but the emotional processing mechanisms haven’t quite caught up. That frantic, desperate, one-minute-you’re happy/the-next-minute-you’re-an-emotional-mess kind of love. Messy, passionate, all-consuming, and ultimately doomed. That was the way it was for me with Jimmy, who I met at the first nursing home I ever worked in—the inevitably named Foothill Acres. Jimmy worked in the kitchen; I worked as an orderly. (These were in the pre-certification days when the girls were nurses aides, and the boys were orderlies.) Our fellow crew on the 3 pm to 11 pm shift of building 1 was largely comprised of high schoolers—there was my best friend at the time, Greg, a fellow Immaculatan, Sharon and Denise and Chrissy who all attended Hillsborough High, and then there was Jimmy, who attended Somerville High School.  There was another guy, too, whose image blips at the periphery of my memory—Bruce maybe?

We forged a tight bond that often led to extracurricular outings after our shift—I distinctly remember late night trips to Denny’s on the Somerville Circle as one of them. There were parties at various houses when the parents were away, and then there was the one night we all hung out at a park in Neshanic Station, near Jimmy’s old house on Pearl Street. Now, I knew I was gay from a very young age, but this was the mid-1980s at the height of the AIDS epidemic when the word “gay” was synonymous in the minds of many with the disease. So, I did what many young gay kids did back then, which was to “date” girls. I was pretty confident in who I was and the type of life ahead of me, less so in those years about how to execute said life. So, I played the role that was expected of me.

But that night in that little park in Neshanic Station changed my life forever. Our group had all been hanging out, drinking, laughing. As the hours wore on, members of the group left one-by-one or in pairs until it was just Jimmy and me, alone, under the most star-filled sky on a temperate night. I believe it was late June because I had just graduated high school. There had been no discernible flirtation or obvious attraction between us that I could recall, but that night we connected in the most beautiful and gentlest of ways. The only way I can describe the experience all these years later is that it felt organic. Don’t ask me who made the first move or how a blanket or sleeping bag suddenly appeared—because I remember so few of the details, only the feelings of the experience. And it was beautiful.

That summer was the best summer of my young life. I understood my own truth more than ever. Jimmy and I were inseparable for those months—except for an agonizing week when he flew to Seattle with his family. I still remember sending him off with a mix tape (I can only remember that Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” was on the playlist) and a letter professing my feelings. Otherwise, we slept at each other’s houses where the biggest worry was making too much noise, or we would hop in his ’67 green Mustang and head down to the Jersey shore where we’d get a motel room for the night. There were even one or two make-out sessions in the back seat of that old Mustang, engine idling, parked down some dark, old dirt road when neither of our family homes were accommodating. It was an intense summer during which my feelings only deepened—and I never missed an opportunity to express them to Jimmy, who was far less forthcoming with what was going on inside his head and heart. Our nursing home group of friends knew on some level that there was something more than a close friendship between us, but again, those conversations didn’t really readily flow naturally back in those days. We acted out the roles prescribed to us by society.

September came and Jimmy began his senior year at Somerville High School. That was the beginning of the end for our torrid summer romance. In the end, I think I’ve always been an old soul—knowing what I wanted, which was stability and companionship…yes, even at that age. Jimmy still wanted to experience all that lay before him. I didn’t handle any of it well back in those days before I could recognize that love had turned into infatuation. I know I made a lot of mistakes and hurt Jimmy, who was doing nothing more than trying to be a high school senior. Wisely, he eventually cut me off. I remember the intensity of those emotions and feeling alone and frantic for an unrequited love. Relationships with friends suffered and I acted like a fool, culminating in a stupid act of desperation in a last-ditch effort to get his attention. Ultimately, he graduated from high school and went away to college in Syracuse without looking back. Reluctantly, I eventually found a way to move on with mine. Time has the best way of soothing over the jagged edges of painful memories.

Flashforward 20 years later and through the wonder of the Internet and social media, Jimmy—who was now going by “CJ”—and I reconnected back in 2010. We caught up and stayed connected all these years. We made peace with our shared past. Apologies were exchanged and accepted. In 2011, we met up again for the first time since we were teenagers. Jimmy met me at my weekend place in Manhattan. He treated me to a lovely Italian dinner at ViceVersa on West 51st Street, and then I treated him to the theater to see the limited engagement (and Broadway debut) of The Normal Heart at the Golden Theater. That teenage love we shared briefly over that magical summer of ’86 was far back in both of our rearview mirrors, but the act of coming together again was a long overdue closure in some weird but comforting way.

That was the last time I saw Jimmy. We’ve stayed in touch regularly via text and Facebook. We’d message during his mother’s chemotherapy appointments a few years back, or I’d try to cheer him during one of his own unsettling cardiac procedures, and there was the one time—honest to God—that he saw on Facebook that Brian and I were about to meet Chita Rivera in her dressing room following a performance of Terrence McNally’s The Visit at the Lyceum Theatre and texted me a message to give to her. I did as directed, and she lit up! Jimmy last sent me a message on March 16th with a link to an interview about how Jamie Lee Curtis met and married her husband. His sarcasm and naughty sense of humor was ever present in those exchanges and never failed to make me smile.

Yesterday, I received word from our dear mutual friend, Sharon, that Jimmy died on Wednesday afternoon. He laid down for a nap and never woke up. I immediately cried and the memories flooded back as their liable to do in times of the worst news possible. I’m eternally grateful for our first shared experience with love and the lessons it taught us—and even more so that we eventually made it out the other side, neither of us worse for the wear and probably better people for it. I’m glad Jimmy got to live the life he wanted, to experience love and heartbreak, to do things on his terms. Some of the stories he shared were so colorful, and I remember being nothing but happy that he got to experience life so fully, even if it’s been tragically cut short at the age of 54.

As I wrote this blog, I stopped and searched through the shoebox I keep of old photos. I was saddened but not surprised to realize that I don’t have a single photo of Jimmy and me together from 1986. We didn’t even take one together when we met up in 2011. This left me momentarily heartbroken, but then I realized that maybe we were so busy living those moments, present and engaged with each other, that we never thought to memorialize our time together. Instead, I’ve chosen Henry Scott Tuke’s beautiful painting, “Aquamarine,” to accompany and capture my sentiments here.

Fly high, Jimmy. You will always and forever hold a very special and indelible place in my heart, even as it breaks today over your loss.

xoxo Vince


Sunday, July 17, 2022

A Tribute in Pen and Ink

When my Dad passed away this past December, I wanted to do something special with a portion of the estate proceeds—something that would have significant personal meaning. I’ve mentioned before how my Dad would take me to the movies every Saturday as part of our weekend “buddy days” when I was a kid. They were usually Irwin Allen disaster flicks or movies with a lot of car chases, but then a little film called Jaws was released. I was eight years old and can still feel the knot in my stomach the first time I heard the first notes of the film’s now-legendary theme music. I think I only made up to the point when poor skinny-dipping Chrissie gets slammed into the buoy before I pleaded with my Dad to leave. It would take three subsequent tries before I could make it through the entire film, each time making it a little further into the film before my ever-patient father heard the desperation of the “Please, Daddy…can we leave now?” in my voice. But 1978 was a game changer for ten-year-old me—on the cusp of adolescence—with the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween. If Jaws hooked me, Halloween reeled me in and cemented what would become a lifelong adoration of both slasher films and a certain actress named Jamie Lee Curtis. It therefore seemed fitting to incorporate the themes of movies and JLC into my tribute and that something special to have created in memory of my wonderful, loving father.
 
I’ve long been a fan of illustrator and famed caricaturist Ken Fallin, who first came to prominence in 1983 doing the posters and advertising for the popular satirical revue Forbidden Broadway in the style of the famous pen and ink drawings of the legendary Al Hirschfeld—a concept in homage to the great theatrical caricaturist. He’s since gone on to illustrate roughly 500 notable people for the Wall Street Journal and has contributed countless other illustrations to The Boston Herald, The New Yorker Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and Playbill (among others). Private collectors of Ken’s work include Angela Lansbury, Warren Buffett, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Darren Criss, Bernadette Peters, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Cooper, and Sir Patrick Stewart. Fallin did a lovely caricature of the cast of 2014’s Broadway production of Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, which I saw with my friend James and loved. I reached out to Ken and purchased a print of the drawing, which hangs today in one of our guest rooms. 

So, the idea came to me: To commission an original caricature of Jamie Lee Curtis, in character, from some of her most notable film roles—in honor of my Dad and the love of movies that he endowed in me. I reached out to Ken who, despite being in the process of undergoing radiation therapy at the time, graciously agreed to accept the commission. Flash forward six-plus months later, and my original, hand-drawn caricature collage of Jamie Lee Curtis arrived yesterday. Featured are her characters from Trading Places, Blue Steel, Freaky Friday, True Lies, Knives Out, Scream Queens, and Halloween II—all surrounding a lovely portrait of her taken at last year’s Venice Film Festival. There will also be a colorized print version on its way to me shortly. To say that I’m beyond thrilled with it would be an understatement.

Once properly framed, this exquisite and one-of-a-kind piece of art will hang proudly somewhere where I’ll see it every day and think of my beloved Dad and our “buddy days” at the movies all those years ago. 

Speechless with gratitude. Thank you, Ken.




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Call for Submissions: 'Unspeakable Horror 3'

Unspeakable Horror 3: Dark Rainbow Rising
Edited by: Vince A. Liaguno

When the pendulum of civil rights and social change initiatives swings toward progress, the LGBTQIA community often holds its collective breath in anticipation of the inevitable backlash when the pendulum swings back. Even with these gains, we are constantly looking over our shoulder—waiting for the next shoe to drop, for the next attack on our personhood. The community’s enemies see progress as a perceived danger to their own heteronormative bubbles—and any advancement threatens to burst those fragile bubbles. Even as we hoist the rainbow flag in celebration, a dark rainbow rises on the horizon…

For this third volume of the award-winning Unspeakable Horror series, we are seeking original short stories up to 6,000 words that explore this idea of great terror growing from the LGBTQIA community’s great strides forward. We want your terrifying interpretations and extensions of this theme—not a literal reading.

Questions to explore:

  • Does the unspeakable horror manifest in a subtle, growing sense of unease that our enemies must surely be plotting to thwart our efforts—or does it present in outward paranoia?
  • Do we settle into a false sense of security and not see the unspeakable terror that rises behind us?
  • Do we turn on each other now that our external enemies are (seemingly) defeated?
  • Do we leave part of our community behind in some misguided act of self-preservation? 

Stories can be set in any time period, as long as the narrative includes some historical LGBTQ+ civil rights/social movement/moment as a direct or indirect backdrop. Think:

  • Homosexuality and the Holocaust;
  • the Stonewall Riots;
  • the Mattachine Society and its 1966 “Sip-In”;
  • the first Pride parades in the early 70s;
  • the American Psychiatric Association’s  removal of homosexuality from the official list of mental illnesses;
  • the assassination of Harvey Milk;
  • the Upstairs Lounge fire in New Orleans;
  • the AIDS crisis at its advent, at its peak;
  • Proposition 8;
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;
  • the murder of Matthew Shepherd;
  • DOMA and eventual marriage equality;
  • the growth of LGBTQIA families;
  • One Millions Moms and their crusade against inclusive Hallmark Channel programming;
  • serial killers that have targeted the LGBTQIA community (be careful with your handling of the internalized homophobia elements here);
  • calls for the end of conversion therapy;
  • the current rise of anti-transgender legislation;
  • how LGBTQIA inroads in America affect LGBTQIA persons in other places around the world.

The above list is NOT inclusive nor is it mandatory that one of these events must be included—these are merely prompts to get the creative juices flowing.

What we want:

  • This is an LGBTQIA/horror anthology. Stories must have a strong, central gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer focus/slant/theme.
  • Stories with a strong, literary feel and crafted with language that captivates
  • Stories with a strong sense of atmosphere
  • Stories that shock and/or provoke—but for the right reasons. We want that shock and provocation to sneak up on us versus clobbering us over the head. We want material that elicits an emotional response of some kind and leaves us with our jaws hanging open upon conclusion.
  • Above all, this is a horror anthology—we want stories that are scary and unsettling, stories that evoke a sense of dread or unease or excruciating tension. Think horror that’s rooted in existentialism, folklore, psychology, the avant garde, body horror, survivalist horror, eco-horror, the supernatural, occultism, urban gothic, suburban gothic, and weird fiction.

What we don’t want:

  • Straightforward erotica;
  • Stories that confuse or conflate sexual orientation or gender identity with pedophilia or bestiality (It’s happened more times than we care to admit on past calls for submissions!);
  • Science fiction or fantasy;
  • Zombies, werewolves, vampires, and other traditional monsters will be an exceptionally hard sell unless you’ve got something singular to offer;
  • Humorous horror;
  • Poetry;
  • Stories with graphic descriptions of violence/abuse against children, women, or animals.

Tips from the submissions process for the first two volumes of Unspeakable Horror:

  • It doesn't take an authentic LGBTQIA person to imbue a work with an authentic LGBTQIA POV. It takes talent. The Unspeakable Horror anthology series is an inclusive project that welcomes all writers from all backgrounds, abilities, orientations, and gender identities.
  • There's a difference between seamlessly weaving keen political commentary throughout the fabric of a story and dropping a political rant into the middle of it. Save the political speeches for <insert name of favorite politician here>.  Chances are, they’re better at them.
  • We want to experience terror from the stories—not suffer nightmares from the grammar. Line edit, proofread, line edit some more, proofread again. Repeat until verb tenses agree, the punctuation doesn't upstage your characters, and sentences enjoy self-actualization.
  • The stories that blew our socks off on previous calls for submissions were the ones with a strong sense of setting and mood.
  • Please. We beg of you: No psychotic trans killers or lesbian revenge tales in which someone's unmentionables are chopped, eaten, or otherwise lopped off. Clich√© is dead.
  • This is a queer-themed horror anthology. We’re looking for horror tales with a strong queer subtext—not straight horror stories with a gay character or two thrown in to meet a quota.
  • Horror sometimes demands a suspension of belief—not a suspension of logic.
Terms: Pays $0.10 (ten cents) per word upon acceptance for All Rights throughout the world and 12-month exclusivity from date of publication. Payment will be made within (10) business days of acceptance.

To be published by Crystal Lake Publishing in the 2nd quarter of 2023—subject to change.

Original stories only—no reprints.

Word count up to 6,000 words. Stories of 6,001 words or more will be rejected instantly.

No simultaneous submissions.

Follow Shunn format.

Submissions open on 8-01-22. Submissions close on 9-30-22. All authors will be notified of our editorial decisions by 10-31-22. Contributors and TOC announcements will follow.

Submissions can be sent to submissions@darkrainbowrising.com beginning August 1st.

Please format subject line as follows:

UH3 / Author Last Name / “Name of Story”

Any submissions received prior to August 1st will be deleted without being read.