Report from Haunted‘s Slush Pile
It’s now officially fall. I can go get a pumpkin spice latte without shame now (but I won’t, caramel machiattos are so much better).
It’s time for me to start thinking about fall decorations, apple cider everything, if I can take the new puppy to pumpkin carving at my sister’s house… and, what I’m most excited for, Haunted submissions.
It seems I may have stumped a few people with this call, so let me tell you what I was thinking when I came up with it and maybe that will help you out.
The first thought that came to my mind was, “What would I want to write?”
In my head, I started weaving a tale of a teenager who wanted revenge on the kid who killed her, and she would stop at nothing to get it, including sitting out on the porch every Halloween, her eyes roaming the ghouls and goblins who demanded candy, hoping she might find a glimpse of him. She may have been a bit of a pushover when she was breathing, but she did not become a mousy ghost afraid of herself. She was out to prove that she never should have been underestimated in life, and she sure as hell won’t be in death.
My head going there had nothing to do with the political scene right now, but rather it’s just what happens every time I write. I start out with shy, doormat characters but I just can’t. They always end up morphing into snarky, mouthy characters who are able to stand up for themselves. They make their own rules and force everyone else to abide by them. But when I got to thinking about the ghost stories I’m familiar with, none of them carried that mentality from life to death. Like there was some unwritten rule that said when women went to the afterlife, they weren’t allowed to be badass anymore.
For lack of a better term… fuck that.
There have been many questions about her motives, and it seems I’ve had a lot of questions about #metoo-style motives. I’m not saying that can’t be used, but what I will say is to use your imagination. Why would somebody hold a grudge against someone else? Maybe a sister is out to get revenge against the twin who killed her because she wanted their parents’ attention. Maybe a college student dies in a drunken driving accident, but the guy who hit her was never convicted and she will handle the justice that the court systems denied him. There are so many reasons that don’t have to be sexual or romantic. They are certainly not off the table, but this is paranormal—which is your chance to think outside the box. That’s one of the reasons I love paranormal so much—the rules are what you make them.
Well, in this case, the rules are what I make them and what you make of them.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what I have in mind for your ghost character, what about how she haunts? (You know, the *fun* part of this story.)
I’m going on record now. I want some next-level haunting. I want vases mysteriously crashing against walls, blood weeping from the branches of trees. None of this, “oh hai, I’m a ghost. Boo.” I want her to come in, guns blazing, ready to set the night on fire. Or a house. Or her ex who blew up the car for the insurance money with her still in it.
Your only restrictions are vengeance and paranormal activity, what’s not to love about that? Let your imagination run wild and free between those two fences. (Well, and the one I already established, which was no sex with ghosts or corpses.)
Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned
Give me your scorned women–jilted brides, protective mothers, vengeful servants. As long as the ghost doing the haunting is female, it’s fair game. She can be trying to keep her husband from finding love again, she could be protecting her children, she could be out to ruin someone’s life in retaliation for a long-standing done-her-wrong. Why is she doomed to remain among the living? What’s her unfinished business? That ghost has a story and I want to know what it is and what she’s doing about it.
But wait, there’s more. It’s gotta be a romance. Are the ghost-hunters trying to suppress a burning attraction? Is a grieving husband falling for someone new? All I ask is that there’s no banging corpses or ghosts. (What fun would either of those be?)
- Stories 4,000 words or more
- Reprints accepted but not preferred. When submitting a reprint include information about its original publication in your submission email.
- Open to all gender pairings and multiple partners
- Contemporary setting preferred, but not required.
- Simultaneous & multiple submissions = No
Payment: $20 USD and a paperback copy of the anthology in exchange for the non-exclusive right to include the story in both the print and electronic versions of the anthology.
Open Submission Period: September 1, 2018 – November 30, 2018
To submit: Please submit a .doc or .rtf in something approximating standard manuscript format to email@example.com
Please note: It may be several days between submitting and receiving a confirmation email because the editor is sending them manually rather than automating the process.
About the Editor: Trysh Thompson has written just about every form of non-fiction you can think of–everything from news, movie reviews, magazine columns, marketing hype, software manualls, and was even an editorial assistant on a gardening book no one has ever read (The 7-Minute Organic Garden–see, you never heard of it, have you?). To keep from being slowly and torturously bored to death by her day job, she turned to fiction as a means of escape–reading it, writing it, and editing it. She also edited the geek romance anthology Covalent Bonds.
About the Series: Triskaidekaphilia is the love of the number thirteen. It’s also the name of our anthology series which explores the more shadowy corners of romance and erotica. There will be 13 volumes in total, each of which will be released on a Friday the 13th.
Pen and Kink Publishing and our anthology editors welcome submissions from writers of all backgrounds (including, but not limited to, race, color, religion, gender/gender expression, age, disability, and national origin), and are always looking for submissions with diverse characters.