Weird, winding paths

This week saw the release of Creepy Campfire Quarterly #2, which includes my story “The Trap”. It’s available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats, so get yourself a copy and stay up late with the flickering flames and ghost stories galore!

A couple of funny things happened on the way to this edition’s publication and my story’s appearance in it. “The Trap” was a little something I wrote which is more directly autobiographical than a lot of my other genre tales. At one point I thought the memories it’s based on would make for a good anecdote within a larger framework, like a novel, but eventually I decided the notion could stand on its own. I submitted it to an open call for an anthology of horror stories with a Halloween theme, the guidelines for which specified that each story should take place on October 31st. I had high hopes, but I never heard back, neither acceptance nor rejection. Frequent checks of the publisher’s unchanging and eventually defunct website led me to conclude it had been a dead end.

I submitted to another fledgling horror market, and was happy to receive a provisional acceptance. I never got any follow-up or contract, and after many inquiries I was told my story would be included in a future issue, with details promised as forthcoming. Then that magazine folded, before my story ever saw print.

This is not the cover to any of the Creepy Campfire books, it's the cover to a fantasy rock opera album I discovered when searching wikimedia commons for "campfire art".
This is not the cover to any of the Creepy Campfire books, it’s the cover to a fantasy rock opera album I discovered when searching wikimedia commons for “campfire art”.

So I submitted to yet another fledgling horror market. While “The Trap” was still in limbo at the soon-to-fold publication, an anthology called Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grown-Ups) was announced, opened to submissions, closed, and published. I was disappointed to have missed my opportunity to take a shot at that market, but by the time I realized I yet again needed to find “The Trap” a new home, the publisher announced a new spinoff periodical in Creepy Campfire Quarterly. I submitted “The Trap”, and it was accepted, but due to the overwhelming volume of submissions received, my story didn’t make the cut for the debut issue and was slated for #2.

I had a vested interest in seeing CCQ #1 succeed and build an audience eager for #2, so I followed the news of its debut closely. I downloaded a copy of #1 once it was available, and read it cover to cover. I couldn’t help but notice a few typos scattered throughout what was otherwise an enjoyable sampling of dark genre fare. I probably could have helped myself from contacting the editor of the Quarterly, but I went ahead and reached out anyway. My intention was to have a conversation about the copy editing process, and perhaps ascertain whether or not I could see a galley copy of CCQ #2 before it went to press, in case I might catch anything that slipped past the proofreaders, before it was too late to do anything about it.

As it turned out, EMP Publishing was in need of an official copy editor, and one thing led to another, and I managed to talk myself into a job. So I am now a staff member there, and even more invested in the success of publisher and publication alike. I felt compelled to explain all of this in chronological order to make it clear that my story was accepted on its own merits when I was just another unknown in the slush pile, and only afterwards did I forge a professional connection to the CCQ. It wasn’t an inside track that got me into the table of contents, not this time anyway. On the other hand, now any and all misspellings and errant punctuation in Creepy Campfire Quarterly, for the current issue and onward, are my shames to bear! Hopefully I’ve acquitted myself well in that regard, but if not I’m sure someone somewhere will let me know.