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Encounters with the Reaper - Deadline for story idea: June 1

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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 12:15 am    Post subject: Encounters with the Reaper - Deadline for story idea: June 1 Reply with quote

New Anthology - Now Open For Submissions
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing is delighted to announce that Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper, is now open for submissions.

Deadline for idea: June 1, 2011
Deadline for Story: December 15, 2011

The anthology:
Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper will contain dark fantasy, magic realism and speculative fiction (and any other type of fiction that might work). Stories are about intimate encounters with death. Death should be a character, either in the physical world, the mental realm, the emotional sphere, on the spiritual or psychic plane or in some other aspect. Death most often will be personified but not always. Readers need to know that death is there, in the story, and real to the character(s) who is encountering it.

Stories can run the gamut: death might be victorious over the person, or the mortal can trick death, argue their way out of dying, or somehow get the better of death. Death might be playing a trick. An enticement is going on, but that can go either way. There might be a battle of wills, or an entertainment by or for death. Maybe death is not the real death but an imposter! There are a lot of directions that are possible, including using familiar cultural events like Mexico's el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead); Halloween; Samhain; Charon ferrying the souls of the newly deceased across the river Styx, or any number of death rituals and events from cultures and societies around the earth, past or present. There are some obvious and historical connections to death, for example, the arts (think Black Swan) and sexuality. If you study the artwork a little, you'll see that the skeleton (the formerly living) is trying to lead someone to another world and that person might be going willingly, arguing hotly against the idea, trying to pay off the skeleton, giving excuses why they have to stay alive, etc. And in some cases, the living win the battle with death, at least temporarily (think of Faust).

Stories do not need to be grim. Encountering death can be a positive experience and might not lead to the character's physical demise...just yet. The French said life is full of la petite mort (the small death) and we experience many of these, building strength and fortitude towards encountering the Big One. In some stories, death can involve change in various ways, but the character should not know that until the conclusion.

I'm looking for interesting depictions of these employees of death and intriguing scenarios of how the immortals and the mortals interact when it comes to 'passing over'. Stories can be sad, funny, scary, a mental Rubik's Cube. I'd like a wide range, so the more inventive you are, the better. Both realism and the supernatural are welcome.

People die from old age, illness, accident, violence, despair. They can die before they are born. The happy and the sad, the sane and insane, the rich and the poor, the law abiding and the criminal, the genius and the fool, the saint and the sinner. Some face death consciously, others die in their sleep. But we all die and Danse Macabre is a kind of universal melting pot for death. My goal is to create an anthology that is a literary version of the Danse Macabre artwork, showing the same range of humanity in a variety of situations and encounters with death.

Stories can be set in any time period: past, present or future. I'm not necessarily looking for fiction set in the Middle Ages or during the plague or other catastrophe, past or present, but I'm open to those. Earth is currently reeling from catastrophes and focusing on an apocalyptic scenario is acceptable. Certainly the 2012 End of Time theme will have a place in this anthology.

Brief history:
Danse Macabre (French); Totentanz (German); Il Ballo di Morte and (Italian); Dança de la Muerte (Spanish); Dodendans (Dutch); Dança da Morta (Portuguese); The Dance of Death (English), these are some of the names for what has been called 'plague art', artwork created because of the Black Plague which decimated Europe from the 1400s and killed approximately 50% of the population. This artwork most frequently appeared on the walls of churches, monasteries and nunneries, and chapels and ossuaries in cemeteries, usually painted directly onto the walls or painted on wood panels or sometimes carved into part of the building's interior or exterior. At least one stained glass piece has survived. Most of the artwork is now lost but some remains.

The first known Danse Macabre art was painted on the interior walls of the Cimetière des Innocents in Paris in 1424 (artist unknown), accompanied by poetry. This was not a cemetery as we know them today but a bone yard, where remains were tossed onto a pile. During the Black Plague, so many were dying, the cause of the plague unknown at that time, that death of family, friends and neighbors, the priest, the king and queen became a frequent occurrence in everyone's life.

The original artwork did not survive when the Parisian cemetery was demolished (once they discovered germs and realized the dead should be burned or buried). It was, though, reproduced in a book, woodcuts designed by Hans Holbein the Younger. This type of art was recreated throughout Europe between the 1400s and the 1800s.

Essentially the works depict death in the form of a skeleton leading a mortal to a 'dance' or, to his/her death. The mortals ranged from beggars to Kings, merchants to Popes. Most were male but soon females were painted, milk maids and nuns, prostitutes and empresses. The underlying idea is that all people die, no matter what their station in life. Death is both just and unjust. Death is the great equalizer. This artwork was a memento mori ("Remember, you will die").

Danse Macabre followed on the heels of a 13th century literary genre called Vado Mori ('I prepare myself to die'), poetry wherein people complained about having to depart this life too soon.

Slightly later, Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying) came along, Latin texts from 1415 and 1450 that offer advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death, how to 'die well', according to Christian precepts. This idea is depicted in Artes moriendi (artwork), often showing the dying person in their bed with an angel on one side and the devil on the other, the two arguing their case to sway the soul of the soon-to-be-deceased.

Here are a few websites where you can see Danse Macabre artwork, gather further information, and get a better fix on what it's about:

Details: Two important details about what your story idea needs: 1) I am looking for a cross-section of humanity, people from all walks of life and all stations, so your story must identify the living person as the dance of death artwork does. For example: a housewife, a miner, a CEO, a lawyer, a witchdoctor in Africa, a musician, etc. 2) Your story also needs to have Death apparent to the reader, interacting with the living person in some way,--as stated above in the Guidelines. Stories can be set in the past, the present or the future. If you have questions, please email:

Wordage: Stories can be up to 5,000 words. If you're going over that limit, let me know. The antho cannot handle many long stories.

Rights: Anthology rights only are purchased by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing for paper and electronic publishing.

Payment: For most stories, payment will be in the $.02 to $.03 cent a word range up to 5,000 words.

Deadline: All stories need to be in by November 15, 2011 in order to meet the publisher's release schedule.

If you are interested in submitting a story, you must send Nancy Kilpatrick a synopsis first. Nancy wants to be sure all stories fit the concept of the anthology and that the story ideas do not overlap. This pre-selection hopefully avoids that. Nancy will get back to you by the end of June so you'll know before you start writing whether or not your idea will work for this anthology. Please make your synopsis up to 250 words, no longer. The deadline for a story synopsis is June 1, 2011.

Send your synopsis to:

Anyone can submit a story synopsis so feel free to pass along these guidelines.

Read my top five story from the National newpaper's annual short story competition:
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oooh, I like! Very Happy
sometimes impossibility is only a state of mind, and yes, dammit, I do mind! -DP Smile

The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time - Stephen Hawking
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