Sunday, June 22, 2008

Potter's Field 3


  • Publisher: Potter's Field 3
  • Editor(s): Cathy Buburuz
  • Pay rate: < $10 + copy
  • Deadline: 31 December 2008 (est.), or when filled
  • Response Time: about 2 weeks
  • Description: Potter's Field 3 is the burial place for the indigent and the unidentified. Just about every city has one. Obviously, we're looking for works that are themed to graveyards in some way. However, it does not have to be a conventional graveyard. (More in guidelines.)
  • Submission Guidelines:
NOTE: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.


1) What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that captivates you?
One of my all-time favourite writers is F. Paul Wilson. I absolutely love every story in his Soft, and Others short story collection. He impresses me with his ability to find a unique angle or approach to every tale.

Joe R. Lansdale's horror tales about the Old West are equally fascinating. I love the movie Bubba Ho-tep, based on Lansdale's short story about Elvis and the weird goings-on in a home for seniors; it boasts a great imagination and a special gift for good old-fashioned storytelling.

When Stephen King's work focuses on events that could actually happen, he's one the world's top entertainers. Stand By Me and Delores Claiborne were stand-outs for this reader.

Not all the people I admire are well known or famous writers. I have had the good fortune as an editor to read the work of so many up-and-coming, talented writers, far too many to list in a single interview. But I will mention a few of them a little later on.

Editing Side Show: Tales of the Big Top and the Bizarre introduced me to a wide range of writers who also share my interest in things like freak shows, traveling shows, sideshows and circuses. In their bios the writers share notes about their personal experiences under the Big Top, or about why they chose to write on a particular subject. One of the reasons I insist on writers' and artists' bios for Potter's Field is because my readers and I enjoy knowing more about the participants.

Potter's Field is a success because some very gifted writers and illustrators choose to participate; people like you, Ken Goldman, Pete Mesling, Gary MacMahon, Thomas Canfield, Ed Lynske, Gary Fry, Debra Williams, S. D. Hintz, Tom Moran, Carole Hall, Lis Anselmi, Marcia Borell, Dick Starr, Jacob Parmentier, and Marge B. Simon, to name just a few.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Horror fiction has always held my interest more than any other genre, but in recent years I've enjoyed reading and writing tall tales about the Wild Wild West. When I worked for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada as a communications specialist, a big part of the job was visiting the Indian reserves to take photos and write stories about Indian culture and tradition, social and economic development on Indian land, Indian treaties, and the Indian way of life. I wrote factual accounts for governmental publications, newspapers, and radio spots. During my five years with the feds I attended powwows and other special events, and had the good fortune to interview Indian chiefs, politicians, medicine men, historians, and Indian spiritual leaders.

Since that time, I've gained a special interest in the history, culture, spirituality, and traditions of First Nations and settlers of the early west. I also visit the old western town of Deadwood, South Dakota at least once a year. In the town's Mount Moriah Cemetery (commonly known as Boot Hill), I've visited the graves of such notables as Wild Bill Hickok, Seth Bullock (the town's Sheriff), Potato Creek Johnny, and Calamity Jane. Western horror fiction is something I truly enjoy.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
As I said before, the Wild Wild West is my favourite historical locale, but I love tales set in places like Louisiana, Mexico, Japan, China, or any other place that isn't the norm for horror stories. I'd love to receive stories for Potter's Field that take place in cemeteries of the unusual. I especially enjoy contemporary and historical horror fiction, and believable horror fiction stands the best chance with me. While I enjoy some science fiction, it's not really my thing, but I'd never pass on a great story.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
Fast paced fiction is my preference, and I'm more apt to take a story where the opening sentence grabs my attention and won't let go. The action or the fascination should commence within the first three paragraphs. It's not mandatory, but it certainly works for me. A writer I worked with recently sent a story that inspired complete and total claustrophobia in me--I had to buy his story.

5) What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Colourful and fascinating characters are always the key to a successful and entertaining story. I'm fond of stories about freaks, prostitutes, the misfortunate, the elderly, the insane, medicine men and women, folks in the backwoods, trailer trash, potionists, anyone who's faced with an unusual situation, circumstance, or dilemma. Simply put, I'd rather read a story about a medicine woman living in the backwoods, than one about a used car salesman in Detroit. I think it's just a better place for a writer to start, though I'm sure there have been great stories written about used car salesmen in Michigan (LOL).

6) Horror and violence can be blatant or suggestive. Which one do you prefer and why?
I'll confess to reading my fair share of stories about violence, great horror fiction that had a huge impact on me. But at the same time, that kind of well written, and tastefully handled horror fiction is rare, so I don't welcome it for Champagne Shivers magazine or for the Potter's Field anthologies. The reason I don't invite it is that most of the violent fiction I have received by way of submissions has been written by amateurs who don't quite know how to handle things like rape, torture or abuse. It takes a special talent to write about those in a way that can be respected and appreciated.

7) In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
Reality scares me, the things that happen in our everyday lives, like losing a loved one or fearing for a child. I like horror fiction that's understated, but I also enjoy fiction that cuts to the bone. My own horror stories are often inspired by newspaper articles about tragedy because most tragedies are avoidable or preventable. Because it's fiction, we as writers can play and experiment with it, bend and twist it so it has an edge.

8) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
  1. Don't send stories about vampires, werewolves, rapists, or druggies. Instead, send stories with believable characters in highly unusual situations. I like strange characters with idiosyncrasies, unusual habits or circumstance.
  2. Avoid the kind of language that would gag a maggot. Yes, there are stories that require the kind of language you wouldn't use in front of your grandma, but keep it to a minimum or avoid it altogether when submitting to me.
  3. A story with more than a dozen typos or misspelled words (or written in inconsistent tense) will likely be rejected because that tells me the writer expects me to work on the rewrite. And I despise rewrites. Listen up: Whenever writers email a manuscript to an editor, they should email a copy to themselves. That way, if the story arrives with no paragraph distinction, the writer can fix the problem and resubmit without the editor having to notify the writer. About every tenth or twelfth manuscript I receive arrives without paragraph indents or a line between paragraphs. If you want to avoid the problems associated with formatting, open a Hotmail account. Hotmail is free, easy to use, and it can be accessed from anywhere in the world. I love Hotmail submissions.
9) What commonalities are among the stories you've rejected? Is there a particular aspect authors seem to get wrong? (Question by Martel)
The majority of the stories I decline contain one or more the following flaws: Far too many typos and misspelled words or inconsistency in tense
  1. They aren't written in the third person (which is my personal preference)
  2. They're stories that have been told before, and the only thing that's changed is the name of the main character or the location.
  3. I constantly reject stories that have nothing to do with the Potter's Field theme. It's annoying to read a 6,000-word story only to discover that it has very little, or absolutely nothing to do with boneyards or the dearly departed. Look people, I realize there are very few markets for long fiction, but that shouldn't inspire you to submit to Potter's Field if your story isn't in harmony with the theme.
10) If you reject a story, how open are you to a revised version, or do you only want revisions upon request? (Question by Martel)
I often point out the flaws in manuscripts so the writer will have a clear understanding that the story needs work. But, damn, if I want a rewrite, I'll ask for it. It's such a major waste of time when you decline a manuscript, offer comments and suggestions, then the writer approaches you again and asks if they can resubmit. Trust me, if an editor wants a rewrite, they will ask for it. If they don't ask, assume that your story has been declined. I make it crystal-clear in my responses, yet you'd be surprised how many writers email back to say they submitted the wrong draft of their story, or to ask if I could please give the corrected version a look-see. Sorry, but I prefer to read a poorly written manuscript just once. When a manuscript requires minor touch-ups, I'm more than willing to work with the writer towards the common goal of perfection, but I'm not into major rewrites, thank you very much.

11) What trait are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
I want stories and art that are high in entertainment.

12) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
Send me a story that's never been told before, a believable tale with unforgettable characters in a fascinating situation or unusual setting.

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D.L. Snell is an Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, a graduate of Pacific University's Creative Writing program, and an editor for Permuted Press. Snell's first novel, ROSES OF BLOOD ON BARBWIRE VINES, pits vampires against mutating zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting. David Moody, author of the Autumn series, calls it "violent and visceral...beautiful and erotic," and Jonathan Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, says, "[I]t has all the ingredients needed to satisfy even the most jaded fan of horror fiction." For more information and to read sample chapters, visit

This article may be freely reprinted in any e-zine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as all links and this message remain intact, as well as Snell's byline and bio. The formatting may be adjusted to fit the venue, but the content of the article must not be altered without written permission from D.L. Snell.


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Anonymous said...

Editor Cathy Buburuz has just returned from a week long vacation and is making a concerted effort to respond promptly to the many submissions received during her absence.

D.L. Snell said...

Thanks for the update, Cathy.