Unexpected Heroines_edited-1So, this has happened two years running – a withdrawn story being accepted and published. I really liked the look of the ‘Unexpected Heroines’ submission call from Grimbold Books and I thought The Coal Shed would be a perfect fit, but then it was accepted for O Unholy Night in Deathlehem last December, so I sent a withdrawal email and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Last month (May 2019), the editors of Unexpected Heroines emailed me to say they were sorry to hear The Coal Shed had already been published because they really wanted it for the anthology. Emails like this are pretty good for the ego, but then there’s all the waiting and uncertainty while contracts and exclusivity clauses are reviewed. Luckily, the story was still available, and earlier today I received confirmation that The Coal Shed will feature in the forthcoming Unexpected Heroines anthology. I couldn’t be happier.

Grimbold Books “is home to some of the very best science fiction, fantasy and dark fiction around.” They are “passionate about books and are committed to finding and publishing a select few brilliant titles each year. Readers can expect the unexpected from our authors. You won’t find books like these anywhere else.”

The Coal Shed will be published in the ‘Unexpected Heroines’ anthology from Grimbold Books later this year. I’ll add a link here when it’s available.

*Previously published

 

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Alone in Imalone is another story I’ve had around for a while. I originally wrote it for Storgy’s Exit Earth anthology and, after a few failed attempts to find a home for it, I shelved it. I’ve always thought it was one of the best things I’ve written and I couldn’t work out why it wasn’t more popular. Then, having ignored it for the best part of a year, I figured it out: the ending was all wrong.

The original ending was a twist that was also lazy, a little predictable, and that undermined all the hard work I put in to get the reader there. It took me ten minutes to rewrite the ending, and I probably changed no more than a hundred words (of 3,300) but, when I read the story through from the start, I was blown away by how much more powerful it was.

I found the submission call for Dying Earth on The Horror Tree and I’m thrilled to say it was accepted on its first outing. In the acceptance email, Nila E White of SFFWorld described it as “a savage satire with some great metaphors that echo current (and personal) turmoil. We loved it.”

What a difference a hundred words can make.

SFFWorld.com is “one of the oldest genre websites featuring the best in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.” For their 2019 ‘Dying Earth’ anthology, they wanted stories that were “far future Earth tales when humanity is looking at its end, post-apocalyptic tales of collapsed eco-systems, lone human or AI on a desolate Earth, mutated human civilizations, ancient lost civilizations re-emerging in the wake of modern humans’ destruction…”

Alone in Imalone will feature in the Dying Earth anthology from SFFWorld. I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

"Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" D 1919/20 R.: Robert Wiene Conrad VeidtLord of the Suds is one of those stories that’s been around for a while. I had the idea during our first trip to Brecey, France, back in August 2015 and, soon after we returned home, I wrote the first draft of the story  for Create50’s Twisted2 competition, for which it was shortlisted.

Since then, there have been numerous versions (some with the title ‘Suds & Monsters’), and it’s nearly been published several times. I love the weird aspect of this story but it’s the tale of a young boy at war with his stepmother that makes this story what it is. And the version accepted by Weird Mask magazine is the best one.

Weird Mask is “a genre fiction zine that is published twice monthly (around the 1st and the 15th of the month). Taking inspiration from the pulps of the 1930s and the zine culture of the 1980s and 1990s, Weird Mask is full of great fiction and high contrast black and white artwork.” It’s hand made and I think that adds to the appeal.

Lord of the Suds was published in May 2019 and is the final story in Weird Mask magazine #17.

“John Wayne Gacy. Pennywise. Juggalos. The Great Clown Panic of 2016. That birthday party you went to when you were four. Society is full of people being scared of clowns. But what are clowns scared of?”

This was a question asked by editor, Dave Higgins, who was looking for “tales where the clown in the room isn’t the real threat. From the high horror of an evil from before time to the tawdry prejudice of those who ‘know what sort of man likes playing with children’…”

I originally wrote Auguste in Spring for The Molotov Cocktail’s Flash Monster contest, where it picked up a ‘close but no cigar’ (and The Lamppost Huggers finished second). I always felt the story was a little cramped as a flash fiction, so when this submission call came along I was happy to give it more room to breathe.

I’m thrilled to say Auguste in Spring will feature in Dave Higgins’ Fears of a Clown anthology later this year. I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

 

Book 16 The Forest Is Hungry Christopher StanleyThe Forest is Hungry is a novelette I wrote about a year ago for an anthology that never happened. It’s always sad when anthologies get cancelled, and this one, which was about nature taking revenge on mankind, was cancelled for political reasons. I felt demoralised at the time but, with hindsight, it was definitely for the best.

When Weirdbook opened up for submissions last year, I hunted around for something to send in and rediscovered The Forest was Hungry. It was rejected, but Doug (the editor), really liked it – apart from one, minor plot point. He suggested I make the amendments and submit the story again when Weirdbook next opens up for submissions – and that was my plan – but then a new opportunity came along.

Demain Publishing, based in Cannes, France, is a relatively new initiative, set up by author, editor and award-winning script-writer, Dean M. Drinkel. Dean’s intention is to select and publish 6 novelettes a month as standalone e-books, with hard copies following at some point in the future.

Once I’d addressed the plot point flagged by Doug, I sent the story off to Dean and the story was accepted a little over two hours later.

So…The Forest is Hungry will be the first of my stories to be published as a standalone, with my name on the cover. And that feels pretty huge. It’ll be #16 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series from Demain Publishing, and I’d like to say a massive thank you to Dean for championing my story. The Forest is Hungry was published on 19 April 2019.

And now I need to write something new for Weirdbook.

Forest is Hungry

Rats

It hasn’t been a good year. During the first half of January, I received a rejection every other day. By the middle of February, I’d received something like eighteen rejections in a row. And then this happened.

For the third year running, I have a story in Aphotic Realm, in their upcoming ‘Fangs’ issue, and I couldn’t be happier. I mean, just look at that cover!

To be fair, I had several stories that were contenders for an issue called ‘Fangs’ but the one I chose to submit is the one, arguably, that has the least bite.

Two Weeks to Wolf is inspired by a true story, based in Montana, that found its way into the UK press last summer. It was such an intriguing set-up, I couldn’t help but think about the many ways the story might end, and this is what I ended up with. It was enormous fun to write.

Aphotic Realm is a print and online magazine, which publishes “short stories of any genre as long as they are dark, sinister, or eerie in tone.” The magazine seems to have gone from strength to strength since Waternish Boy appeared in issue #1 and a lot of that is down to the editors, who are fantastic.

Two Weeks to Wolf was published in Fangs: Aphotic Realm #6 on 16 March 2019.

Exquisite Aberrations

I started taking writing seriously when I was made redundant several years ago. One of the first things I did was sign up to an online writing course, which I completed during my final weeks in the job. As part of the course, we were required to write a short story in weekly chunks. I didn’t have a story idea at the time but we were told this didn’t matter. Just start writing…and then keep adding to it. So I did.

The finished story was a clumsy, Gothic ghost story, called The Coastguard’s Cottage, set on the Isle of Wight.  Some of the writing was pretty tense but the story was poorly realised and the ending didn’t really work. I revisited the story a few times in the years that followed but couldn’t find a way to inject it with the magic needed to hold it all together.

Then I saw the submission call from FunDead Publications, for “traditional literary gothic stories with a non-traditional spin”. By non-traditional spin, they meant non-traditional main characters. I went back to The Coastguard’s Cottage with this in mind and came up with something quite different, and much more satisfying.

Gods of the Southern Horizon was accepted for publication in summer 2018, on the same day Unnerving Magazine accepted ‘Another Side of Gustav Holst.’ Six months later, also on the same day, I received emails from both sharing the front covers – and they’re amazing. The question remains: will they be published on the same day? Only time will tell…

FunDead Publications “is located in Salem, Massachusetts, a city which has provided endless inspiration to writers of every genre for hundreds of years. With a love for horror, gothic fiction, and all things macabre, FunDead brings a little joy to those who prefer the dark side.”

Gods of the Southern Horizon will be published in the Exquisite Aberrations anthology by FunDead Publications in summer 2019, and the paperback and limited edition hardback versions are available to pre-order now (I’ve already ordered mine).

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