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ANTERIOR SKIES will be an annual anthology. Its aim is to find the best cosmic and weird stories, ranging from fantasy (preferably low fantasy, but high fantasy will be considered, but it has to wow me) to sci-fi to noir, as long as there’s a dab of horror somewhere in there. 

 

Thomas Ligotti, Clark Ashton Smith, Algernon Blackwood, and H. P. Lovecraft are the greatest examples I can give for the types/style of stories I'm looking for. But to expand upon this, I'll also mention stories similar to (in style, atmosphere, or substance): Bloodborne (PlayStation 4)/the Dark Souls series, The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, True Detective (S1), The Empty Man (film), Jordan Peele’s Nope, The Deep by Nick Cutter, The Terror by Dan Simmons. 

 

To recap: genre-bending, dark (but not necessarily nihilistic; we’ll get to that in a moment), innovative, original voices, daring to take narrative risks with story structure and characters.

 

ANTERIOR SKIES (Vol i) 

divided into six sections.

 

I / The Fallenness of the Cosmos

 

- Accessible cosmic/sci-fi horror; e.g., “The Colour Out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft.

 

II / Attus Adnanamrig

 

- Stomach churching body horror with a cosmic or scientific tilt; think David Cronenberg.

 

III / Ephemeral Puppetry

 

- Ligottiian existential horror.

 

IV / Tohu: Phantom & Void 

 

- Psychedelic, experimental story structures and prose; not as nihilistic as previous section.

 

V / The Axiomatic Form of All Things

 

- The inversion of Tohu.

- Macabre in order to see the light through the darkness (e.g., True Detective).

- Traditional Good Vs. Evil.

- Slay the dragon, hunt the beast, cure the virus, fix the toaster.

 

VI / The First Epoch of the Anteriors

 

- Should mirror The Fallenness of the Cosmos, in that these stories should be accessible.

- These will be the power ballads, the ones that encompass the values of weirdness and genre integrity of Anterior Skies—but not too weird.

 

*I will end up deciding which short story goes where, but if you have a gut feeling of where your story/poem belongs, mention it in the query email.*

 

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

 

Only Docx.

 

Spacing doesn’t matter; but I prefer something between 1.2 – 1.5. 

 

12-point font, unless your fonts necessarily differ in the context of your story for dramatic or thematic effect (e.g., graffiti on the wall, words painted in blood, etc.).

 

Don’t use tab to indent; instead use the ruler at the top—although there are other ways to do it, too—just as long as you don’t use tab (email me if you’re uncertain how to do this).

 

Times New Roman and Bookman Old are my favorites, but it doesn’t really matter. Nothing too weird. No wingdings.

 

100-6,000 words. (If it’s more than 6,000 words, it needs to blow me away.)

 

Fiction (horror, dark fantasy, sci-fi, noir—anything macabre and weird, preferably with cosmic horror undertones), non-fiction (based on true story, investigative journalism, true crime), poetry, flash fiction. Anything and everything, as long as it fits.

 

EMAIL GUIDELINES

 

Subject line: TITLE_AUTHOR NAME_ANTERIOR SKIES

 

Body of email: You can be as formal or informal as you want. Do you have writing credits? List them here. But I’m not going off of previous successes; I’m judging only your submission.

 

Submit to: StrangeElfPress@gmail.com

 

TYPES OF STORIES I'M [NoT] LOOKING FOR

 

Narratively, take chances, but avoid getting too wrapped up in character relationships or worldbuilding. Short stories are just long enough for the effect you’re going to have on your reader. In the tradition of Lovecraft, Ligotti, Smith, and Blackwood, you only learn about characters through the events of the story, through their actions and dialogue—and sometimes you don’t learn anything about a character. Oftentimes the theme of the story acts as a main character. Lovecraft’s "The Colour Out of Space," “The Dunwich Horror,” or virtually any Ligotti story—no backstories are given to characters (unless of course it's integral to the story).

 

Avoid elements of melodrama; avoid action (I find action tedious and boring, whether it's big, bombastic action-genre stuff or just characters scratching their nosesif it's unnecessary to move the plot, add atmosphere, or build character, don't include it); avoid exposition (worldbuilding or background information should be incrementally added or not at all); and finally avoid excessive inner dialogue/thoughts (it might work for George R. R. Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, but for a short story you should write in a way that your reader knows what your character is thinking because they're thinking the same thing). 

Of course there are exceptions to all my pet-peeves. Take a chance if you think it's necessary.

 

PAYMENT

 

One cent per word. $15 minimum (if you write a 200-word poem, you’ll get $15, not $2); max payment is $50 (if you write a 6,000-word short story, you’ll get $50, not $60).

 

Payment is based on final wordcount, after all revisions. 

 

All earnings will go toward covering publishing costs, editorial compensation, and paying authors more for Volume 2.

THIS AND THAT

 

ANTERIOR SKIES will be published in American English. If you can [mostly] do it for me, it'll be less of a headache editing it. (I won't be too much of a stickler, because I know it might be hard if one isn't initiated.)

All stories in ANTERIOR SKIES will use the Oxford comma. Again, one less thing for me to apply.

All stories in ANTERIOR SKIES will use the Chicago Style ellipsis. Not... this. Not...this. Not ... this. This: ( . . . ). It's not as easy as adding spaces. You have to add nonbreaking space-period-nonbreaking space-period-nonbreaking space-period-nonbreaking space. 

Other than American English, the Oxford comma, and the Chicago Style ellipsis, do your own thing; I'm both a fan of Lovecraft's many semicolons and em-dashes, as well as McCarthy's minimalistic punctuations.

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