Shon Toney rejoins H&H as Short Story editor.
One of the original contributors and founders of Haggard & Halloo has rejoined our editorial squad to manage the growing number of short stories we receive each day. Below is a personalized kick off letter to you, our readers and everyone else. We’re super excited to have him. Let’s go.
Of the hundreds of short story submissions my search queued up for me in Haggard & Hallooâ€™s inbox, nearly a quarter were spam from a dating service pimping desperate descriptions of â€œoptimistic, cheerful, goal-oriented, athletic womenâ€. Â One lady outlining her ambitions misspelled career. Â Another lady lists â€œshapingâ€ as a hobby.Â Iâ€™m not sure what that is, assuming itâ€™s exercise, but I really hope sheâ€™s out there creating shapes with a big smile on her face. Â Imagine coming home to your couch smashed and reshaped into a perfect upholstered sphere. Â I can see her jumping out from behind it, hands fanned like a magician impressed with themself more than the trick, shouting her ta-das at startled victims.
Iâ€™ve been at this all day, not reading spam, but clicking through stories one-by-one trying to account for unpublished works Haggard & Halloo has received over the years. Â The glowing laptop screen is burned into my retinas. Â Time to take a break but instead Iâ€™m staring at the dating ad Iâ€™ve avoided successfully for hours. Â I decide to respond to the spam before logging off, â€œDear Alexander Interdating– Loved the story. Â Hope-filled with only bitter nuances of utter disconnect from functioning society.â€
What Iâ€™m doing now is telling you a story. Â Sure, not much has happened yet, but several things did occur. Â A situation was setup, an experience was shared, sarcastic conclusions were reached, a voice emerged, and an action was taken. Â Youâ€™d be surprised how many submissions we receive lack basic elements of storytelling.
Here I am reading material for Haggard & Halloo because Iâ€™ve been asked by the editor to help with the short stories section. Â Anyone that knows Catsull personally knows that our editor fills just about every second of his day with a properly spelled career, family, and art, not to mention countless other hobbies (ducks should consider mapping an alternate route if passing over his house during hunting season). Â So Iâ€™m more than happy to volunteer time to our publication, one that wouldnâ€™t exist without volunteered talents.
Haggard & Halloo is dedicated to what weâ€™ve loosely termed â€œexperimentalâ€. Â That can mean almost anything, so letâ€™s see what youâ€™ve got. Â Submissions should have some element attempting to deviate from the norm, thatâ€™s all we ask. Â Whether thatâ€™s surprising scenarios, mind bending wordplay, slick imagery, audacious characterization, unique perspectives, dream-like promenades, or wicked plot twists– There needs to be fresh ingredients, something that makes us crave seconds.
Just keep in mind that weâ€™ve all seen a lot of movies, too much predictable television, and are well read, which means we wonâ€™t bother with stories that invoke TV Guide plot summaries of tired scenes. Â We want to be inspired as much as we want to be entertained.
Consider for a moment a movie called â€œBye-Bye Monkeyâ€ in which the main characters discover King Kongâ€™s body on a New York beach. Â Thatâ€™s only a portion of the plot, but fascinating enough to spawn a dozen short stories of its own. Â They must have done something with King Kongâ€™s body, right? Â Did they bulldoze it onto a beach to clear way for traffic until they could decide? Â Did they consider feeding it to the poor?Â How does a pulled ape sandwich taste? Â What if you were part of the crew that had to dispose of the carcass?
Imagine how small your chainsaw would feel next to a decomposing body the size of a buildingâ€¦ Â The way your chain might snag on thick body hairâ€¦ Â Youâ€™d have to wade into bristles stiff as rope to pull it freeâ€¦ Â The beast might suddenly heave with rigor mortis, knocking you on your backâ€¦ Â A gush of escaping gases could seem to you like one last brutish sigh for the blonde whose perfume lingers on its massive clutched pawâ€¦
When submitting to H&H, or anywhere else for that matter, make sure youâ€™ve combed the beaches carefully for exceptional material. Â I can only hope Alexander Interdating is reading this as well.
Posted a few Sundays back, â€œSkull Stomping @ American Apparelâ€ by Mike Sauve, is a great example of what we are looking for. Â If you havenâ€™t read it, stop with my nonsense and go check it out. Â Clever modern language, unique voice, thought-provoking premise, irony tinged satire on social media, quirky details, internal struggles externalized, shocking action, funny resolution, all in a well-balanced short story. Â Itâ€™s intelligent fiction that leaves a distinct impression on the mind of the reader.
This is not intended to be the formula, just provide a bit of insight into what interests Haggard & Halloo.Â Our publication is for exploring the boundaries of subject, form and style. Â Now that I can close my eyes without seeing the grey borders of spectral windows, Iâ€™m ready to read some more. Â Like I said earlier, letâ€™s see what youâ€™ve got.
Shon Toney rejoins H&H as Short Story editor.