Monday, July 30, 2018

Cover Contest for Ashes and Entropy!

Back in June when we launched our new website, one of the things we discussed was the upcoming cover contest for ASHES AND ENTROPY. Well, with the Kickstarter just two days away now, it's time to unveil the guidelines for that contest. (Note: the following guidelines also appear on our submissions page.)

During the month of August 2018, we will be open to submission for the ASHES AND ENTROPY Cover Art Contest! ASHES AND ENTROPY is an anthology of cosmic horror, noir, and neo-noir including new stories by Laird Barron, Damien Angelica Walters, John Langan, Kristi DeMeester, Jon Padgett, and many more. 

The winner of this contest will receive payment of $500 for the use of their submitted artwork as the cover for various editions of ASHES AND ENTROPY. If the Kickstarter is funded, the winning artist will also receive a bonus of $500! 

Please send all cover art submissions and/or queries to There are few aesthetic guidelines for this contest. Use the title of the anthology, with the anthology's genres in mind, to spark your own creative ideas for this cover. 

Please create only the front cover for now, if you're piece is chosen, when the book's interior is finalized, we will have you create the rest of the cover spread to its exact spine width. The front cover dimensions are 6 X 9 (with bleed. Here are some more detailed info for specifications) and we will prefer 600DPI for the final version but a clear more web-friendly size will be fine for submitting. Thank you and good luck!

***Clarification*** The full title of the anthology is ASHES AND ENTROPY. I decided to ditch the subtitle for those who have been following the book's progress since the beginning. Please include "edited by Robert S. Wilson" as well. 

So that's pretty much it. Artists, get your creative, gritty, dark, cosmic-noir cap on and sharpen your art tools (you know, just the ones that actually need sharpening) and get to work!

***Update!*** We have decided to allow up to three art submissions per artist! 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ashes and Entropy Story Spotlight: I Can Give You Life by Paul Michael Anderson

Today we continue our story spotlight on the extraordinary tales that grace the interior pages of our upcoming anthology ASHES AND ENTROPY with a feature of the very first story I accepted for the book, Paul Michael Anderson's "I Can Give You Life." Here's some more about Paul:

Paul Michael Anderson is the author of Bones Are Made to be Broken (Written Backwards), which Jack Ketchum called “a dark carnival of rigorous intelligence and compassion, the title novella alone of which is well worth the price of admission” and Fangoria said, “With BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN, Anderson announces himself as a major talent in the dark fiction realm, capable of fashioning imaginative, bold visions.”

Anderson’s stories, articles, reviews, interviews, and introductions have appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. He teaches in northern Virginia, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can find Paul on Twitter under the inspired handle of @p_m_anderson, or at his website

Paul's story is the longest tale accepted thus far weighing in at a whopping 17,000 words (Paul calls that a short story. Ha!). This bleak and unsettling tale of a rookie Virginia state trooper investigating a strange mysterious highway accident really sits at the deep core of what I originally envisioned for this anthology. And while that vision has expanded drastically, this piece sits grim and lovely at the center of that expansion as a fulcrum tying together the other themes and extrapolations in an original and gritty entanglement of noir and weird cosmic folk horror. Here is the opening scene:

Charlie was a rookie, so he puked, but he was still a Virginia State Trooper, so he made sure to do it in the woods to the side of the highway, as far from the crime scene as possible.

(how do you know it's a crime scene?)

(what else could it be?)

Wiping his mouth, he stomped back to the road, trying not to trip over an errant tree root. His stomach sloshed with his footfalls, although he couldn't for the life of him imagine what could still be in there. The tree line was a few yards away, the shadows in the ditch beside 526 eastbound deepened by the twisting red and blue lights—


Why were there blue lights?

(blue lights are county aren't they this is highway)

He clambered up the ditch with as much dignity as he could manage, stumbling and scraping his left hand against the rocks puncturing the topsoil, wincing at the wire-thin pain.  Clips of voices drifted over, resembling beat poetry.

"Getting the an idea...exits already closed from Linden to 81...getting worse, is what it is...shouldn'ta run out like that fucking matters..."

The patrol cars—both State Police and Anbeten County—were parked willy-nilly across the closed lanes, framing the configuration of metal and glass in the center of the lane that might've once been a Ford Galaxie station wagon—the extended back was still in approximate shape—but wasn't any longer. The entire frontend had been flattened to the shattered windshield and what remained of the passengers resembled ground chuck, pressed into the vinyl seats.

(how? how does that happen? how is this a crime scene? what does that?)

He approached the officers, grouped by grey gray or tan uniforms. Most looked up, their faces tight and gazes unreadable; men of varying ages, hair colors, and complexions but sharing enough similar traits—the wideness between the eyes, the thin lips—to mark them as local. He was the only Trooper in Area 13 who hadn't been born in either Anbeten, Frederick, or Warren County.

"Trooper," one of the county boys said, nodding his head slightly.

"Brooks," Harrigan, Area 13's Master Trooper, said, his bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows drawn together. He didn't look up and his eyes were distant, as if he was trying to figure out a difficult math problem. The other troopers stood behind him, all Trooper IIs; Charlie was the only probie. "You and Trooper Caldwell are going to Schlossen. That's where the folks—"

"Temoin family," a trooper behind him said. He was slightly pudgier than the others, his lank blond hair longer.

Harrigan nodded. "Thank you, Caldwell. That's where they called this in from. They're staying at the Cool Harbor Motel. Go there to get their statement."

He looked up and studied Charlie. His eyes were sharper, but his eyebrows were still bunched. "I'm under no illusions that you expected this on your third day in Area 13 and this is a delicate matter—" The tip of his tongue darted out, wetted his lips. "—and the academy didn't train you for it. Caldwell is lead. Understood?"

Charlie nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Dick and his boys are going to handle this." Harrigan inclined his head to the man who'd addressed him. Dick planted his thumbs in his Sam Browne belt. There were fewer county boys than State Troopers, but they seemed to set their feet more firmly, take up more space on the road.

Charlie's eyes cut back to his superior. "Sir?" 

"They'll maintain the road closure until public works has cleaned the mess," Harrigan said. He gestured at a tight clutch of VDOT workers, their orange jumpsuits giving them away, on the far side of the accident. They crowded behind a wiry bald man, his head thrust forward like a strutting cock. His hollowed eye sockets resembled a skull.

Questions piled up in Charlie's head, the questions anyone new would ask and feel stupid for doing so because the answers must be obvious, but he looked away and said, "Yes, sir."

Harrigan lifted his chin. "All right, gentlemen. We all know our jobs."

The two groups dispersed—the Troopers to their Fords, while the county boys spread around their sheriff.

(welcome to the illustrious life of a virginia state trooper charlie brooks!)

And then, a softer voice, a voice he knew but refused to acknowledge:

(isn't this what you wanted?)

Caldwell said, "C'mon, probie," and started for a patrol car, the blue detailing made black in the emergency lights.

Charlie followed. The other officers glanced at him as they walked around the incident—the strange knot of VDOT workers openly gaped at him—but Charlie resisted hunching his shoulders. He was a Virginia State Trooper now; he had his certificate—even if the ink hadn't fully dried yet—and his assignment to prove it.

But he still felt their eyes on him


and he hunched his shoulders, anyway.

You can read this story in its entirety in ASHES AND ENTROPY when it is released into the wild in December or sooner by getting the extremely limited single story chapbook of "I Can Give You Life" through our Kickstarter campaign launching on August 1st! Keep an eye out for more story spotlights and other upcoming news about ASHES AND ENTROPY here on the Nightscape Press webpage!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Story Acceptances For Ashes and Entropy

Hey everybody, I've got some wonderful news! I'm pleased to announce that I recently accepted two new stories for ASHES AND ENTROPY!

Autumn Christian's "Shadowmachine" is a dreary tale about a girl and the dark machine that sends her into the stars with a dark purpose. Autumn is the author of THE CROOKED GOD MACHINE, WE ARE WORMWOOD, and the upcoming GIRL LIKE A BOMB. I'm excited to include this darkly aesthetic cosmic horror tale to the TOC of this anthology!

Matthew M. Bartlett's "Dr. 999" is the strangest, most unsettling series of Amazon product reviews you will likely ever read. Matthew is the author of GATEWAYS TO ABOMINATION, CREEPING WAVES, and his latest release, THE STAY-AWAKE MEN AND OTHER UNSTABLE ENTITIES. I am ecstatic to include this sinister spiraling descent into hair-conditioning madness to the pages of ASHES AND ENTROPY. Seven out of five stars! Would story again!

And these two stories likely won't be the last new tales gracing the interior of this disturbing book as I still have a few more late-solicited stories I should be receiving soon. And there is the potential for an open call for two slots in the book for folks from underrepresented demographics if we meet that stretch goal with the book's crowdfunding campaign. So keep an eye out for more announcements, including Story Spotlights and updates on the upcoming ASHES AND ENTROPY Kickstarter campaign launching August 1st!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Ashes and Entropy Story Spotlight: What Finds Its Way Back by Damien Angelica Walters

With nine days remaining until the launch of the ASHES AND ENTROPY Kickstarter campaign, Nightscape Press would like to start shining a spotlight on each story and author gracing the interior of this fine upcoming anthology. And to kick things off, we're featuring "What Finds Its Way Back" and its author Damien Angelica Walters.

From Damien's bio:
Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Cry Your Way Home, Paper Tigers, and Sing Me Your Scars, winner of This is Horror’s Short Story Collection of the Year. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the Shirley Jackson Award Finalists Autumn Cthulhu and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda’s Song, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, and Apex Magazine. Until the magazine’s closing in 2013, she was an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls and is represented by Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency.

Damien's fiction has been a rising current in speculative fiction particularly in the past few years and I have adored everything I have read of hers. So when it came time to make a list of authors to reach out to for ASHES AND ENTROPY, she was one of the very first writers I thought of. I'm honored that she was not only pleased to receive the invitation but that she blessed me with such a singularly phenomenal tale that both fit and yet simultaneously expanded my vision for this anthology.

"What Finds Its Way Back" is rooted in the ties that bind families together; in both the beauty of love and the dead and rotted intertwining tendrils of blood and secrets. It is a tragically twisted tale of three sisters, two twins and one other sister, and the terrifying secret their family has buried in the woods behind their house. Here is the story's opening scene:

When they were children, Keira and her sisters buried their secrets in the woods behind their house. She and Ava and Amanda would run between the trees, hands linked, one of them with lips clamped tight, drawing as close to the stream separating the old woods from the new as they dared. Together, they'd dig a hole and one would bend low, pressing lips to waiting dark, whispering the secret into the exposed dirt, their voice like drifting feathers, and the three of them would cover it up as fast as they could and run back home, not speaking until they were clear of the tree line.

By the time they'd finished grade school, the ground was thick with secrets—Jennifer Smyth is a jerk; Mrs. Halloway isn't as pretty as she thinks she is; I hate Stephan Gregory and wish he would die—all trapped in place by the self-righteous fury of childhood.
The woods on the other side of the stream held other, darker secrets.

You can read this story in its entirety in ASHES AND ENTROPY when it is released into the wild in December or sooner by getting the extremely limited single story chapbook of "What Finds Its Way Back" through our Kickstarter campaign launching on August 1st! Keep an eye out for more story spotlights and other upcoming news about ASHES AND ENTROPY here on the Nightscape Press webpage!