Submission Call: Crescendo of Darkness,

Cover by Carmen Masloski

Crescendo of Darkness
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” -Victor Hugo

There’s a funny thing that can soothe the soul after a rough day at work, can put you in the mood to take on any challenge, or can transport you back twenty years in time. It’s the most widely enjoyed mode of entertainment and the most used form of mood alteration. Music.

Your story must involve music in some way. This could take the form of a specific genre or song, but also the creation of music, an instrument, or even the lack of music. What would you do if you didn’t have your favorite music to calm your mind or to motivate you? What horrible deeds are prevented on a daily basis because someone listened to their favorite song? How many people are alive because someone heard the right song at the right time? What is the power of music?

Note: This is a anthology. Your story must be a Horror story and contain something emotionally, physically, or mentally horrifying.

Manuscript Format:
Font: either Courier or Times New Roman.
Double spaced, font 12 point.
Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

In the body of the email:
100 words or less bio about you.
One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ids
Your website or blog

Subject of the email state:
Send to:

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2017, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/17). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date.

If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:

For any other questions, please send an email to:

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Harry Husbands

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

I’ve always been fascinated with what frightens me, in any form that happens to take, real or supernatural. My love of horror is simply an extension of that fascination and I’m constantly seeking books, movies, TV shows, documentaries, anything that causes my hair to stand up on end. I’m just chasing that dragon like everyone else at

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

It was a movie that I now find hilarious because it’s so terrible. An adaptation of The Worst Witch that features the always wonderful Tim Curry, who even does a cheesy musical number that I still remember the lyrics to. I was terrified of the two ‘bad’ witches as a four year old and religiously rented the VHS from our local library. I think that movie formed the basis for my love of horror.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I try to write stories that are subtle in terror and creep into half-conscious thoughts while falling asleep. There’s always humor and often a touch of the bizarre but they’re mostly about people. It’s my aim to write characters so human that when awful things happen, you suffer alongside them.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I can’t listen to anything with lyrics because I get too drawn in by them and it scrambles my thought process. I do occasionally put on something atmospheric and dark. Horror soundtracks, classical music compilations, something creepy to get me in the mood.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I adore music across all genres and spend a lot of time listening to it, as well as writing and recording songs. I play instruments to relax. The banjo has been highly therapeutic for me recently. I’m a guitar man at heart though and there’s little else that brings me peace like improvising over some twelve-bar blues.

What is your favorite part about writing?

There’s not much I don’t enjoy about the whole process. From spilling my guts onto the page initially to the editing process where I refine my words into something more coherent. That said, if I had to pick a favorite part it would definitely be the first draft because it’s just raw creativity and I get so excited with what I’m doing.

What is your favorite word?

Currently, gadzookery (thanks to Merriam-Webster for their Word of the Day feature), which refers to the overuse of archaic language.

What is your least favourite word?

I’m not a big fan of the word necessary.

What turns you on in a book?

In horror, I want to be scared out of my skin. Otherwise I like believable characters, gripping plots and a writer whose style is distinctive but doesn’t take themselves too seriously. The usual stuff.

Why should people be on team Harry?

I’m not sure. I’m barely on team Harry myself. If someone was to read what I have to offer though and deem me worth following that would be a dream come true in itself.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!


Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

I love nearly everything about horror, but I think a lot of what it comes down to is the characters. As a genre, it explores the best and worst of humanity. I believe the most interesting actions come from the most extreme situations – which is a lot of what horror offers.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

That one’s a little tricky because I was already so invested in the horror genre before I really understood what it was. I do remember what made me realize I’d been into horror, and that was the movie Cube. I got so obsessed with it the first time I watched it, and I knew that I wanted to see more awesome, gruesome, paranoia-inducing things like that. That’s when I was able to piece together that a lot of the books and movies I had grown up with that were just normal stories to me, were actually supposed to be that same kind of scary for kids in my age group.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I try not to limit my stories in terms of length, content or subgenre – especially when working with horror fiction. Describing my horror stories as a whole can be really tricky because of that, but one thing that most of them have in common is that they’re disturbing explanations I’ve concocted for real world situations I’ve actually found myself in.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I listen to music when I do just about anything. I’m partial to punk and alternative. I’ve found metal is great for days I’m having trouble focusing because I’m less inclined to drop what I’m doing and sing along. Lately I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall a lot while writing horror, because it’s both very dark and very inspirational.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I am very into gaming – that eats up a lot of my free time. I play guitar (badly) and bass (even worse.) I also spend a lot of time learning how to communicate in fictional languages. I can write in Draconic, Elvish script, Circular Galifreyan and can speak in both Klingon and Dothraki.

What is your favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is that it makes anything possible. When I have my pen on paper, my freedom knows no bounds. I can be anyone and do anything, and when I come back home I have something to show for it.

What is your favorite word?

I have a lot of favorite words in a wide variety of languages. I love words, I think that’s why I’m a writer. Off the top of my head, I’d probably pick “Cacophony” because it’s so beautiful in comparison to its meaning, and it also happens to be the title of one of my favorite songs.

What is your least favourite word?

“Voyeur” is my least favorite word. I associate it with anger and embarrassment because it’s the word that my autocorrect always changes my last name to. It is however, also the title of one of my other favorite songs, by the same band.

What turns you on in a book?

Complex characters. I can forgive a lot of things in a book if I believe in the characters, just as I can forgive characters for a lot of things if they’re well-written.

Why should people be on team Cat?

I would really like to say people should choose me because I promise I’ll do my best to scare them if they do, but the truth is I’ll be doing my best to scare everyone anyway. That is what I’m here for. I sincerely hope that if people are choosing to be on team Cat it’s because they like my work – but I’m competing with fourteen very talented writers and I don’t believe there’s a wrong team to be on.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!

Free Fiction Friday: The Ratter by Kay Tracy

The Ratter by Kay Tracy

I remember the first time. A warm late spring day in Lake Charles. It was humid and sticky. I did not like it, it was very ” unpleasant”, but momma insisted. “Too many to feed” she told me. “You won’t be eatin’ them when they are grown so…” I was six. I had no idea how to do this. This tiny baby rabbit, one of 6. I asked momma how I should do it. “I don’t care!” she said “You just go handle it girl!”

I was known as a curious child. By that I mean I was always looking in books, and encyclopedias to learn new things. I experimented. A lot. Momma mostly left me alone then. I think she might have been just a little afraid by the time I was ten. Did you know that alligators like the taste of rabbit? Among other things.

I had a nickname, though folks never used it to my face. I knew they called me ‘the Ratter’. I really didn’t mind. They paid me to deal with their “pests”. Sometimes they paid me very well. It wasn’t so bad now. You just had to figure out what the best type of bait was. The rest was usually quick, and almost too easy. I told myself way back when I was six, that “If I ever stop caring about doing the killing part, I would stop doing it.”

Momma used to say I had a gift, that what I did was a service that folks needed. She said I should be glad she made me take that task when I was little. She might have been right.

Sometimes things take a little longer than others. That can lead to certain ‘odors’. I learned that ammonia can help with those. Not too much though, just enough to do the job. The real secret though, like I said, was the bait. All the difference in the world between working easy or hard is in the bait.

No one ever asks how, or when. I never ask why. All folks want to know is “How much?” I always ask about a ‘deadline’, and what sort of ‘pest’ they want me to take care of. It keeps me busy enough, and I like my big house and car.

Funny how some folks never had a momma to teach them that they should “Just go handle it!”
That’s okay by me though. I always take the time to do things right. I care about my work. I think it shows too!

Well. If you ever need my services, just contact me.

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Riley J Pierce

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

I think my favorite part of horror is the feeling of fear. I love that fear is humanity’s common denominator. It is the one thing that connects us all. It can make the most rational person appear insane, and make the sanest person appear psychotic. Horror makes you question the simplest things like a phone ringing, or a nightmare, long after the movie is over. Horror is my lifelong companion and one of my greatest loves.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

When I was in elementary school, we each had to be in charge of a section in the library. It was just one shelf, but it had to be organized and dusted daily. I chose the horror section and read every book. Alvin Schwartz was a huge inspiration to me. I love his scary stories! I still own those books and read them quite often. I’ve been addicted to horror for almost my entire life and enjoy finding new genres and ideas.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I tend to be drawn to the storytelling side of horror. I am very influenced by the work of Guillermo Del Toro, and admire the depth and layers of each of his characters. When I write, I want to tell a well-rounded story that has a richness to it. As far as genre, I lean towards the paranormal and the occult. I’m a skeptic, so when I write this genre, I research a lot of firsthand accounts of paranormal witnesses. I like that genre because it’s something that a lot of people say they’ve experienced, so the story would seem more real. My goal would be to scare someone long after they’d finished my book.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I actually listen to ambient noise from the setting of the story I’m writing. I’ve listened to the beach, thunderstorms, and even sound effects. It really helps me transport myself to the story so that when I’m writing I can help keep myself focused.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I do! I’ve been going to comic and horror conventions since 2002 and I also make my own cosplays. I really like to create things, and it works wonders on writer’s block. Lately I’ve been working on collecting supplies for my next one – Eva Ernst, aka The Grand High Witch. I also write a blog where I interview a lot of upcoming artists, post tutorials, and write about various topics I find interesting. My free time outside of work is spent between being creative, binge-watching movies with my husband, and playing with our pets. We currently have a cat, two dogs, and four mice.

What is your favorite part about writing? Writing is the only way to show someone else what you see in your mind. It’s incredible to think that just by using words, you could share your imagination with the world. That is so amazing to me! There are so many times that I read something and am just in awe of the author that created it. I hope that with what I write, I can make someone else feel that way too.

Writing is the only way to show someone else what you see in your mind. It’s incredible to think that just by using words, you could share your imagination with the world. That is so amazing to me! There are so many times that I read something and am just in awe of the author that created it. I hope that with what I write, I can make someone else feel that way too.

What is your favorite word?

I really like the word “unearthly”. I usually see it to describe someone, or something, so beautiful it’s almost not even human, or from this world. When I hear this word, I instantly imagine a siren, or some other mythical being.

What is your least favorite word?

I despise the words “reboot” and “remake”. Those words have been the kiss of death to a lot of the movies I’ve loved. I’m a firm believer that there will never be a shortage of ideas, so when a reboot, or remake, comes out, I get the feeling of disappointment that the budget wasn’t spent on a new, original idea.

What turns you on in a book?

I absolutely love twists and endings that I can’t predict. I’ve seen and read so much horror that I tend to correctly guess the ending long before it’s over – ask the theater of people that are probably still upset that I spoiled “The Sixth Sense” for. It’s so refreshing when I think I have everything figured out and suddenly it changes course and catches me off guard. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to, but when it’s done well, it’s fantastic.

Why should people be on team Riley?

I want people to read what I write and wonder how I sleep at night with all of those monsters in my head. I may be only 5ft tall, but my writing goals are massive! I’m well versed in everything horror from the classics to modern thrillers, and I plan on bringing the best to this contest!


Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Feind Gottes

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

The main thing I love about horror is its diversity. Some of my favorite horror books and movies have a little of everything in them from romance to fantasy to the total gross out moment. Horror envelopes everything from Goosebumps to Friday the 13th to Evil Dead to Saw. Horror can be lighthearted and funny, show you fantastic new worlds or be gritty and realistic. That’s what is so great about horror!

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

This one is a little difficult for me because I would like to say that when I picked up Stephen King’s The Stand to read when I was eleven that it lit the horror spark in me but my love of horror had already begun by that point. I had seen the classic “Universal Monster” movies at a fairly young age and while I enjoyed them I didn’t really find them “scary”. Then one night when I was perhaps eight or nine years old my mom let me stay up to watch the late night movie with her. My mom doesn’t like watching horror movies alone and that night was my introduction to the late great Tall Man, Angus Scrimm, in “Phantasm”! I was hooked!

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

The scariest things to me are things that could actually happen even if farfetched so most of my stories deal with dark realism like maniacs, serial killers and such. However, I’ve written about demonic possession, monsters, and zombies too. Essentially, I’ll write any idea that comes to my head and won’t go away but I try to write as realistically as possible.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

Do I listen to music while I write!?! ABSOLUTELY! Honestly, I don’t think I could write without it. My writing and music are as inseparable as snow and cold. Nearly every story idea I have comes from music in some way but while I’m writing what I listen to almost exclusively is doom metal. It’s a little slower and powerful which gets me in the right head space. While I’m writing I mostly tune it out but the music isolates me in “storyland” blocking out the rest of the world. A few albums I always listen to while writing are Sole Creation by Kongh, Sorrow & Extinction by Pallbearer and Clearing The Path To Ascend by YOB. Also every story I write shares its title with whatever song inspired the idea, it’s my way of paying respect.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

If you had asked me this a few months ago I would have said not really but due to a medical problem, I was having extreme difficulty writing anything (the problem has been corrected) for some time. Fortunately my creative side wouldn’t be suppressed and thanks to some chance and life changes I began doing some woodworking which led to adding artistic touches through woodburning and painting. Starting with just some gifts for family I recently refurbished an antique coffee table that was just a simple, plain object but now looks like anything but simple and plain. It also took me over 120 hours to complete!

*Pictures included if you want to use them.

What is your favourite part about writing?

For me the best part is bringing the story to life whether it takes place in some place familiar or in some place otherworldly. I get like a creative rush when I feel my words are portraying what I’m seeing in my head. I may fail to reproduce that in an eventual reader’s mind but the thought of connecting with another person in that way is a real rush. The only better feeling is sex.

What is your favourite word?

Wunderbar – pronounced the German way (w has a v sound)

What is your least favourite word?

sauerkraut – it tastes even worse than it sounds!

What turns you on in a book?

That’s a tough one. For me, I think it’s getting lost in the story. There are a lot of authors that have influenced me but absolutely no one gets me fully immersed in a different world like Clive Barker. Imajica is my favorite book ever but I got lost in Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, Galilee as well as many others. He is the absolute master to me.

Why should people be on team Feind?

I think I’m a decent person but I like my writing to speak for me. If you enjoy the tales I weave, if they scare the pants off you then I’ve done my job and I’d appreciate any support you can give. If you don’t like my tales of terror then there are 14 other great writers vying for this prize that deserve every bit as much of your support as I do. I won’t win this contest, if I am lucky enough to win then it is my writing that has truly won.


Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Quarries

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!”