Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our World

"Our World"
by Adam Colston

As soon as I stepped into the terrace bar, I spotted her. She laughed at some joke the young man at her elbow was telling, and her teeth flashed in the candle light.

People milled around; the men were mostly watching her, but I found a spare seat at a table for one near the jazz-pianist. I sipped my Cabernet while I waited.

I’d had only two sips when, like a tiny aviator returning from a perilous mission, I heard the drone of mosquito’s wings. It landed on the back of my hand, its abdomen swollen with her blood. I nudged it towards the mole near my wrist. It seemed drowsy and unresponsive, but it dutifully sank its proboscis through the dark flesh and deposited the blood into the nanoic unit below.

A few seconds ticked past, and I shut my eyes while I waited for the results.

(Read the rest here.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen

So you're wondering what all this is about. Me, too.

It's about stories, maaaaaaan.

Postcard writing is a dying art. Being able to fit everything you need to say within a tiny space forces you to be creative as a correspondent.

Postcards from Hell are postcard-sized stories mailed once a week to your address. The stories are concise, brilliant glimpses of hell, like a door opened and then quickly shut.

Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen is our pilot program. The Old Man has ordered thirteen episodes to measure how the readers respond and whether we can generate enough subscriptions to support our missions work in Borneo and Papua New Guinea.

The first postcard will be mailed to subscribers on August 4, 2007. The last one on the Saturday before Halloween. If this works out, Postcards from Hell will morph into a self-reproducing monster, 52 weeks a year, while spawning other Postcards series, such as Postcards from Uranus (sci-fi) and Postcards from The Woody End (fantasy).

Postcards come in two varieties - Postcards and E-cards. A subscription to Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen costs $6.66. That's a little over 51-cents per story. But if you're such a cheap bastard that you can't cough up this unholy number, you can always subscribe to E-cards from Hell: The First Thirteen for $3.33. That's a little over two-bits each.

So how do you opt-in to Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen? Check out the Subscribe links to the left to order by Paypal.

Or you can mail a check or money order to:

Postcards from Hell
7746 Newfound Gap Rd
Memphis, TN 38125

Be sure to include your address and/or email address, otherwise I'll just have to take your money and not send you anything.

And remember, the first card goes out August 4, 2007. So send in your order soon, and be sure to buy gift subscriptions for all your weird friends and relatives. And since the profanity is bleeped out, pornography forbidden, and violence and gore held to a reasonable level, it's a great gift for grandkids!

As Alice Cooper sang:
Having a hell of a time my dear
wish you were here.

That's All Folks

Postcards from Hell is done for now. You can still order, and I'll be posting a new deal soon for those who'd like to order the complete set.

But for now, I invite you to post your thoughts here about Postcards from Hell, which stories you liked best, and where you'd like to see the series go in the future.

If you're a reviewer and you'd like a copy of all fourteen stories, let me know.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fiction Guidelines - Postcards from Hell

The Submission Period is Now Closed.
Do not send new stories or they shall be tossed unshriven and unread into the Lake of Fire. Even if you're Anne Rice. Especially if you're Anne Rice.

In hell, we have a pentagram of five rules within which you must abide.

Rule Number One - Space Matters. Hell is full, so there's not much room to tell your story. Do not exceed the maximum word count of 600 words. Fewer words are better. Your target is 500 words. But in truth, word count is an unreliable indicator. What really matters is the number of lines. If you send us 500 words which consist almost entirely of three-word sentences of dialogue, we will be forced to consign your story to the Lake of Fire. However, don't count lines. Your line count and our line count will not be the same. So shoot for around 500 words, and if we like your story, we'll do our dead level best to make it fit into a corset of demon bones and flayed human skin.

Rule Number Two - Content Matters. These are Postcards from Hell, so make your story hellish. No, we're not just interested in stories about demons and devils, or zombies or werewolves or vampires, although all these things are nice. Hell has many layers, each one unique, and several are often mistaken for real life. So hell might be a child's closet or the trunk of a car or the muddy bank of a river in India. But keep in mind that we have a sense of humor around here. The most interesting person in Paradise Lost was The Boss. If we couldn't laugh, this really would be hell. We're not especially looking for funny stories, but if your story makes us chuckle, we won't immediately toss it in the Lake of Fire. Senseless violence and gratuitous gore may be therapeutic, but they do not a story make. Because the postcards will be delivered by the US Postal Service, any profanity you include in your story will be Beetle Bailey'd or asterisked. We're not scared of much, but them Postal Inspectors are some bad m****r f*****s. And for God's sake, no pornography (heh, we love that joke).

Rule Number Three - Genre Matters. If you must assign Postcards from Hell a genre, it is horror, but we editors from hell have a broad interpretation of horror, and we are not easy to frighten. We laughed through most of Peter Straub's Ghost Story. Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House made us all nostalgic for our former existence. If the movie The Ring scared the pants off you, pull your pants up because we fell asleep an hour ago. Don't even talk to us about The Blair Witch Project or we'll consign your story to the Lake of Fire. Your job is to give us the creeps in ~500 words. Do that and you'll earn your pitchfork.

Rule Number Four - Contract Matters. If we accept your story for publication in Postcards from Hell, you will be paid a flat fee of $50 USD. That's around 10 cents per word. For this, your story will be published and mailed or emailed to our subscribers. We ask for both print and electronic publication rights for one year from date of publication. Postcards from Hell - the First Thirteen is an experiment, a pilot program to test the response of readers and their willingness to purchase subscriptions. The main thing is, if we agree to publish your story, it's because we think it deserves to be read and applauded and maybe optioned for a movie. So it will be published, one way or another. In any case, you will be paid a professional rate for it, and after a year, all rights return to you.

Rule Number Five - Format Matters. For your story to be considered for publication in Postcards from Hell, it must first pass our three-headed Golden Retriever - Lucky, Guardian of our Electronic Domain.

  • We only accept electronic submissions, so you must send your story to editor[dot]fromhell[at]gmail[dot]com (if this makes no sense to you, ask someone with sense to explain it).

  • You must format your email subject thusly: "Submission - story title".

  • You must include your name, address, email address and word count.
  • You must place your story within the body of the email. If you send it as an attachment, your entire email will be consigned to the Lake of Fire unshriven and unread (unless you're really famous - we just love celebrities in hell). We are not interested in reading your biography, no matter how cleverly worded. Just send your story in the body of the email. We like bodies. We like to see what's inside them. We aren't so much interested in what's attached to them.

Axioms to Live By

Postcards from Hell - The First Thirteen is a limited run edition. The submission period is also limited. The doors of hell yawn wide today, but when we have thirteen publishable stories, it closes - hopefully not forever.

The first postcard goes out August 4, 2007. The last one on the Saturday before Halloween. So send your stories now. Time's a-wasting.

Due to the expected volume of submissions, you are not likely to receive a detailed response unless we have suggestions for a rewrite. If we decide not to use your story, you will probably receive an email that says, "Your story has been consigned to the Lake of Fire. Have a nice day." Don't take it personally. We're not nice people or we wouldn't be here.

Do not argue with the editor. He's from hell. He may look like a chihuahua, but he'll eat you for lunch and spit out your bones. If your story is rejected, just walk away.

Reprints are not ok (unless you're really famous, see note above).

Simultaneous submissions are ok, as long as you confess to it beforehand.

Multiple submissions are not ok. Wait until you hear from us before sending another story.

Ok. That's about it. I am Minion. I have spoken. Now start writing, maggots.

Feed the Hunger

I told you the other day what I'm seeing too much of - serial killers. This includes thrill killers and angry strangers, and any murder that happens for no other reason than murder's, like, really scary, Scoob. And cannibalism - seeing lots of cannibalism, a trend I blame on the Food Network.

What I'm not getting are what I expected I'd get too much of. I'm not getting ghost stories, vampire stories, werewolf stories - all the traditional and untraditional beasties and boogums. I've gotten a couple of zombie stories, but they're rather straightforward.

I'm not getting any space/sci-fi horror. Or fantasy horror. None of the cross-genre stuff. I've got a couple of historical horrors, which I appreciate. A handful of detective horrors, which are difficult to pull off in 500 words or less. No "Western" horror.

Sombody write me a vampire gunslinger story!

Most of the stories are set in modern American/European urban/suburban society. I'd like to see more rural stories. I'd like to see more exotic locales. Take us to Jamaica, to Africa, to China. To the moon. To Mars. To the outer rim.

Somebody write me a ghost of the tsunami story!

Take us to 1960, to 1860, to 1060. Take us to 2060 or 3060.

Somebody write me a hippy werewolf story!

That's what I'm hungry for.

Time is Running Out, Submit Today!

Ok, you've waited long enough, I've waited long enough. I've got several good stories still in my file awaiting further consideration. Some time tomorrow I'll be announcing the next story accepted for publication, which leaves just four remaining slots.

So I'm putting a hard deadline on this. The submission period is closing June 6. I won't be accepting any stories after 11:59:59 PM CST June 6, and I'll be picking the last four stories from the survivors of my sometimes brutal editorial process. These will be announced no later than June 13.

So if you have stories that you've been waiting to send, send them now. Or sometime in the next 7 days.

If in the recent past you sent me more than one story at a time because you didn't read the guidelines (you know who you are), please be aware that I deleted your stories unread (because I'm a total asshole) and if you want your stories to be considered for Postcards from Hell, pick the best one and send it and wait for me to reject it before sending the next one and wait for that one to be rejected before sending the next one.

We're Back!

If you want to stop us, you have to aim for the head!

Like many current current ARM mortgage holders, when we published Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen last year, we ended up upside-down on our investment. Even in hell, the credit crunch has everbody's bollocks in a vice. The Boss has agreed to stick a few more bucks into this money pit, but on the condition that we try and save a few trees this time around. The Boss likes trees, you see. You may recall, he made his first appearance in a tree to a trollop named Eve.

So the first change is that we are now publishing stories electronically, at this website. Which means you get to read the stories for free! No more paper postcards, no more expensive subscriptions. Free is good, right? Everbody likes free. And this way, you get addicted to our postcard tales, and that's when we tighten the zip-tie around your... well, all in good time, my dears.

Second, we're expanding our genre list to include science fiction and fantasy as well as horror. But really, we're open to pretty much any genre as long as it has some element of horror, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or surrealism. See the revised guidelines for more. In the future we'll begin publishing Postcards from Hell, Postcards from The Woody End, and Postcards from Uranus.

Third, we've lowered how much we pay to 5-cents per word. That's still a professional rate, so stop bitching.

But here's the deal. If you like the stories you read here and you want to see them continue, we need you to chip in. The Boss is only going to put so much money into this thing before he consigns us all to the Lake of Fire. Our goal here is to publish at least one story a week. He gave us enough money to get us through the first few months, but the rest is up to you.

There are three ways you can help:

First, you can donate. Donating is easy. There's a new Donate button over on the left. Click it. Make a donation. Anything you can spare. Guess what. Your donation is tax-deductible. No, seriously. The Boss managed to finagle 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. Hell, we're up to our ears in lawyers and former IRS agents around here and most of them have absolutely nothing to do, so they called in a few favors for us. We're officially a charitable non-profit. Go figure. So any money you donate to the cause you can write off your taxes. Sweet!

Second, you can purchase Postcards products. Pretty soon there'll be an anthology of the stories from Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen available. Buy a copy for your mother or sweetheart. They'll hate you for it.

Third, you can click. This is the easiest and cheapest way to keep us publishing. Every time you click one of our advertisers' links, we get a few pennies. If everybody who visits this site would click one link, we'd be pretty close to on our way.

There's a status block on the left that lets you know our current financial crisis. It's always a crisis around here, but sometimes it's desperate and sometimes it merely sucks. Keep an eye on it and when things look dire, don't be a scrooge or we'll have to close our doors.

Small Press Month

March is Small Press Month (or so I've been told). So why not help out an old altar boy and make a tax deductible donation today, hmmm?