Speculations: A ChiSeries Blog

Speculations is a blog hosted by the SpecFic Colloquium that will provide short articles discussing a range of topics related to speculative fiction--that is, science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, magic realism and other associated genres. We encourage you to applaud, to contend, to debate and to discuss the material here! We want a dialogue about the status of the field so please write in with your thoughts, but please respect Internet etiquette.

If you're interested in submitting a blog entry, e-mail Helen Marshall with the topic you have in mind!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Necrotic Tissue: The Horror Writers' Magazine

By R. Scott McCoy

Markets come and go, some without ever putting out a first issue. As a writer, I had certain things I wanted from a market. A reasonable response time and a decent chance at a slot in the magazine were at the top of my list. It would also be nice if there were some mention as to why the story didn't make the cut. Do I need to rework something or is it just a matter of preference? Did I miss it by a mile or inches? My goal of creating a horror magazine was simple in concept: create a new market with a fast turn-around time, personal feedback and an equal shot for anyone who submits. We pick the stories, not the people. It would also be nice if we increased pay when possible and didn't disappear without warning. We started off as token pay and are now 1 cent a word for all stories but the Editor's Pick, which receives 5 cents a word.

Some writers start magazines as a vehicle to publish their own work. I'm not judging, but when I started Necrotic Tissue, I decided that I wouldn't do that. The other thing I decided in 2009 was that just because I had a completely open submission process didn't mean I couldn't solicit one story from a well-known writer. It's a bonus story, above and beyond the word count I have set aside for open submissions and a nice treat for subscribers. We've had David Dunwoody, Jeff Strand, Michael Knost and Anderson Prunty, with a commitment from Brian Keene for a story some time in 2011.

I have the tag line "The Horror Writers' Magazine" in the upper right hand corners for two reasons. First, I try to take stories from across the spectrum of the "Horror Palette", since tastes vary. All magazines are influenced by the personal likes of its editors, but instead of a more hierarchical construct, at NT my associate editors have an equal voice in final selection and I read as many submission as they do. I believe this creates a more balanced magazine with broader appeal. Second, our goal is to treat writers well, from our fast response time, personal feedback, to paying on time and putting out a product they can be proud to share with friends, family and fans.

There is no secret recipe for getting in to NT. You can read past issue to get an idea, but don't try to copy what you see. We want what all editors want. Fresh ideas and tight execution are the starting point, but characters drive the story. Get the reader to care about what happens to the characters, and you are on the right track. Beyond that, we do put out a help section in every copy and most spotlight common reasons for not being accepted. Some past topics include the hook, the ending and right sizing your story. Most of these help section articles are generic to any short story genre.

Whether you're a writer with a hundred publishing credits, a beginner who has never submitted before or a fan of horror fiction, come on by and give NT a try, you won't be disappointed.


R. Scott McCoy was born in Kodiak Alaska and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota. He currently lives in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities with his family. He's had more than twenty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies.  His first novel, Feast, was released from Shroud Publishing in September 2009 and his novel The White Faced Bear is due out from Belfire Press in October 2010.

Scott is the Publisher of Necrotic Tissue, a quarterly horror magazine and is an Affiliate Member of the HWA.

Feast by R. Scott McCoy

Deputy Sheriff Nick Ambrose can look into someone's eyes and glimpse their guilt, to an extent. But when he and his brother take on a psychopathic killer, he gains something more: the ability to see, and devour, souls. Plagued by this terrifying new power, and by the spirits of both his brother and the butcher trapped inside his mind, he sets out to understand and control his new fate and to grapple with the shadowy auras he now sees all around.

R. Scott McCoy's classic tale of horror confronted, within ourselves as well as the evils we face, takes Nick Ambrose and the reader on an action-packed and spine-tingling journey, leading a once-quiet man onto a tightrope of dark and light, where every move may threaten the very lives of friends and strangers or tip his own soul into the abyss.

Can he command the darkness welling within, or will he become merely its vessel?

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