Jonathan Pinnock - Writer of Stuff

NO SOONER THE WORD THAN THE FICTION

The Terror of Miskatonic Falls

Back in the mists of time (around April if I remember correctly), the following remarkably detailed call for submissions was reprinted on the Café Doom forum:

Submissions Call for Shroud Publishing Poetry Anthology – The Terror of Miskatonic Falls 

When the snows fell hard this past year, the entire Northeast buckled down for a long, cold winter. Among the states affected most was Massachusetts, and one of the places hit worst was a town located in its northeast region – a small hamlet named Miskatonic Falls. Situated inside the Miskatonic Valley Region, there’s only one way in and out. Both were blocked off by heavy snows. 

With few connections to neighboring towns – all of which are ten miles away in either direction – with power and telephone lines down, Miskatonic Falls had been cut off from the outside world for more than a month when the Miskatonic County Police Department received a garbled call from a pay phone at the town’s only diner. The call consisted of bursts of static, whistles, unearthly cries, and one whispered phrase “…itum insania…ventum.” Scholars at nearby Miskatonic University identified it as Latin, roughly translated as: “…the walking madness…has come.” 

Investigators arrive to find an empty town. There are signs of violence, mayhem, bloodshed…even perversion and sadism….but everyone has vanished, without a trace. The mystery deepens when repeated references to the “long man” appear, in abandoned diaries, recovered emails and cell-phone texts, and in graffiti on walls that read: “BEHOLD! THE LONG MAN COMETH!” 

What has happened to the people of Miskatonic Falls? What menace has wiped them off the Earth? Who is the “long man”, and what does “…the walking madness” mean? The world may never know. There are no answers, only questions…and this anthology. 

What are we looking for? Poetry, between 8 – 34 lines. Any style is acceptable, HOWEVER: consider the poem’s rhythm and clarity. Avoid “word play.” The poem must make sense and have narrative qualities. Also, with rhyming poems: structure always makes it better. Think sonnets. 

Subject: the town’s dissolution into madness and disappearance, but as it relates to its townspeople. Husbands, wives. Lovers, co-workers. Fellow students, shopkeepers, priests and constables. As the end approached, what did they think? Feel? Experience? Fear? Hate? Think “Spoon River Anthology”, by Edward Lee Masters. However, don’t mimic its style – written in the ’30s as a collection of tombstone epitaphs. Absorb its essence – people speaking beyond the grave – and apply it the anthology’s situation. 

We don’t want answers or conclusions. Vague references are fine, but we only want to know what their lives were like as the end drew near. That having been said, for further clarification, the anthology will be split into three “cantos” (sections, chapters), submissions depending: 

Canto I: Ventum Veni, The Madness Comes 
Canto II: Ventum Dilato, The Madness Spreads 
Canto III: Ventum Voro Nos, The Madness Consumes 

Important things: We want first print rights to your poem. After publication, the rights revert to you. No reprints. New poems only, please. Multiple submissions are allowed, but only up to three at any one time. The Terror of Miskatonic Falls will be published as a trade paperback. 

What you get: 1 cent a word and a contributor’s copy. The paperback copy of the book will be sent to you upon or shortly after the book’s official release date. Payment is based on final word count from the final edited copy of the poem, so once your poem is ready for print, payment will be sent to you via either check or Paypal. 

What to send to us: Please send your poem(s) in standard manuscript format: Courier 12pt, double-spaced, with any italicized words underlined. Also include your name and contact information on the first page as well as your name in the upper right corner of any subsequent pages. Don’t forget to also number your pages. Please follow these guidelines to the letter. Submissions that don’t will be automatically rejected. 

Where to send it: send all submissions as .doc or .rtf files via email to kevin@shroudmagazine.com with the words “Terror of Miskatonic Falls Submission” in the subject line. 

When to send it by: Reading period starts right away and ends when full. You will be notified within two months of your submission regarding acceptance, possibly sooner.

Which sounded massively cool to me. So I wrote something, called it “The Beast in the Cellar” and sent it off to them. A month or so later I received a provisional acceptance, and today it was made formal, with the piece now re-titled “Cellar Beast”. I’m really pleased about this, partly because The Shroud is a prestigious publication, but mainly because it’s clearly a labour of love on the part of the editor, Kevin Lucia. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

4 Comments

  1. Congrats! I also have one in this collection. Nice sharing a TOC with you!

  2. admin

    September 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    And nice to be sharing it with you, too!

  3. Uh, yeah, what other search engine would you recommend? (just kidding!) Found your post about Miskatonic Falls on Twitter and came here to see if there was any info on if the call for submissions was closed. I’ll keep looking. BTW, congratulations on the acceptance.

  4. admin

    September 23, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Hi Golem – thanks for dropping in. Pretty certain that submissions are now closed for this one, but there are always new ones opening up. I can seriously recommend http://www.cafedoom.com as a good place to find out about this kind of thing.

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