Note: we are particularly looking for minority voices who might have alternative viewpoints of the United States national parks.
Authors Jo Schaffer-Layton and Peter Black approached us in 2019 about an anthology geared toward conserving national parks, with the theme of spooky stories that families can enjoy together.
Here’s their pitch:
The national parks are often called “America’s Best Idea,” but could allowing some of America to stay wild be our scariest idea?
It’s a question I hadn’t considered until I visited the Grand Canyon and bought a book about all the ways people could die in the seven wonders of the natural world. Some, like dehydration, were not a huge surprise. Others, like murder, were not something I’d expect in a national park. The book gave me chills and kept me up late into the night.
Many of the national parks are huge swaths of wild and barely explored land. While it’s true millions visit the parks each year, most people stay within a mile or so of popular attractions. Not many go into the hinterlands where there are unseen wonders. It’s that wildness—that invitation to contemplate the mysteries of life—that makes the national parks so important to the health of our nation’s psyche.
But it made us consider the frightening things that could take place there as well. And so, we’re asking you to pick a national park, national monument, or national historic park and write a spooky story, using that particular place as the setting.
It will be a collection that both entertains and raises awareness about our precious national lands. The best part is that all profits will be donated to the National Park Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the mysterious beauty of our national parks, so we and future generations can continue to enjoy them.
We would also love to have the NPS carry the book in their park stores (and it is a goal we are actively working toward), whether or not that happens, all proceeds from the project will go to benefit national park conservation in the U.S.
We currently have NYT bestsellers and other fantastic authors included in the project who will be revealed once the table of contents is finalized. We feel that it will be a successful and exciting project and one that will do a lot of good in helping preserve and protect our diminishing natural spaces.
Here are the settings that have already been chosen, so please pick something different:
- Dinosaur National Monument (UT/CO)
- Gettysburg National Military Park (PA)
- Yosemite NP (CA)
- Everglades NP (FL)
- Prince William Forest Park (D.C.)
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area (CA)
- Bryce Canyon NP (UT)
- Kenai Fjords National Park (AK)
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC and TN)
- Grand Canyon NP (AZ)
- Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
- Badlands NP (SD)
- Arches NP (UT)
*we’ll update this list as more stories are accepted. Otherwise, you’re free to choose and explore the national parks in the most creative and spooky ways you can imagine. We can’t wait to read your stories!
Here are the details:
- Submissions will be accepted until spaces are filled.
- We generally accept 24 stories, so this year we’ll probably accept about half that since we already have several authors on board.
- Watch this page and follow us on social media. We’ll do a “last call” when we’re getting close to closing.
- We love all genres. Generally, our philosophy is the weirder the better. But keep in mind that in this anthology, we’re particularly looking for 1) spooky campfire-type stories that are 2) family friendly. That doesn’t mean they need to be G rated. It just means don’t go crazy with sex, violence, or language that might prohibit us from including it.
- They must be set in a U.S. national park, national monument, or national historic park. If you have a great idea, just put it in one of those settings. As long as it works, that will be great!
- Stories should be new and NOT published elsewhere.
- Stories should be less than 7,500 words.
- Simultaneous submissions are accepted.
- Entrants should be 18 years or older.
- Authors will be notified of acceptance or pass as soon as possible. Usually within 2-3 weeks of submission.
- The anthology will be published in SPRING 2023.
- Authors selected for the anthology will be paid $50 & receive one print copy of the finished book.
- If we are interested in your story, we will send you a contract and additional details about edits, payment, and final due dates.
**All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the preservation of education about national parks and landscapes.**
Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org as a Word attachment with S’more Spooky Stories in the subject line, and we will respond to all entries. We look forward to hearing from you!