Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Face of the Beast

So after much, much, MUCH reading, I have finally chosen the table of contents for my forthcoming werewolf anthology, THE MARK OF THE BEAST. This was a rather daunting task as I received over 250 submissions. When I’d finished my original read-through I had 80 stories and poems pulled out of the pile for final consideration. Then I had the excruciatingly difficult chore of pruning my selections down to the final 29. Sadly, I had to leave out some really excellent work from both new names and established authors (including a number of old friends). There was a novelette that I really loved that in the end got left on the proverbial cutting room floor because of its size. A number of longer short stories sadly suffered the same fate. With the sheer tonnage of contributions vying for a spot, size DID end up mattering in the end; if it were a choice between a really good 9,000+ word story and three equally good 2-3k worders, the little guys frequently won out. But the final mix is good, with poetry and short-short flash fiction all the way up to a short novella, and everything in between. And about a third of the authors are women – something you don’t see too often. Genre-wise, I have everything from fairy tales to cyberpunk to historic to gothic horror. I'm thrilled to have poems from a couple of my favorite poets, and stories from a some of my all-time favorite scribes; and there's some amazing stuff from a whole bunch of folks who were wholly unknown to me, and that was a real treat. It’s a lovely thing, my hairy howling horror! I will pet him, and feed him, and call him George!

Something remarkable I noticed in the glut of submissions which I received was that there really weren’t many downright bad pieces. Sure, there were a few stinkers, but for the most part the submissions were competently written, and a great many of them were damn good. Many of the initial rejections were based on theme or originality – some I just didn’t like. They may have been well-crafted, but something about them just didn’t tickle my fancy. As unbiased and open minded as every editor tries to be, one’s personal preferences can’t help but creep in. Probably the biggest strike against a lot of the work that was outright rejected was the author not following my formatting instructions. Once the floodgates opened and material started to pour in, improperly formatted stuff just got passed over without a look – I just didn’t have the time to pick through things to correct formatting or ask the author to do so. I stated my formatting requirements loud and clear, even highlighting them in red in the prospectus. If the author wasn’t diligent enough to send me material as I asked for it then how serious could I really take them?

Anywho… it’s all over and done now. For good, bad, or otherwise I’ve made my choices and I’m sticking by them. There’s some awesome stuff here, and I hope readers will agree. And so, without further ado, I give you the table of contents for THE MARK OF THE BEAST (in no particular order yet):

The Wolves Outside the Cage by Abraham Kawa
Thirteen  by Alyne de Winter
The Hunting of Philip Ackroyd by Josh Reynolds
Adjustment by Paul L. Bates
Against a Sea of Brilliant White by Michael Matheson
Arcadia by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
Best Left Buried by Evan Dicken
WolfGang  by Glynn Barrass
Happy? by Daryl Wayne
Hellhound by Aurelio Rico Lopez III
Her Mother’s Fur by Rebecca L. Brown
Into the Moonlight by Donald R. Burleson
Last Night... by Eric J. Guignard
At Long Last by Mollie L. Burleson
Lucy Still Eats Meat by Michael Penkas
Malediction of the Moon by T. Fox Dunham
Moonburn by Robert M. Price
Werewolf Root Canal by Lois Gresh
Over Exposure by Jonathan Templar
Teenage Werewolf by Catharine Clark-Sayles
The Shrieking Shack by Richard L. Tierney
Wolf by Ernest Walwyn
The Better to Type With, My Dear by Megan Engelhardt
The Blood of the Moon by Caitlin Walsh
The Bone Cruncher by Karen Gillard
The Clothes Maketh by Juliet Boyd
The Vestals by Ann K. Schwader
The Wolfgirl in the Cupboard by Gitte Christensen
Mr. Lupus by T.E. Grau 

And so until next time from the House of Secrets,
Unpleasant Dreams!