Not mine, but passing it along. The original deadline was July 31st, but the editor said it was being extended to late August due to lack of quality subs, lack of subs hitting the theme. So although I normally try to post things with higher remuneration (Catacombs is $25 for originals, $12 for reprints), I thought I'd boost the signal on this one on the off chance it struck a chord with someone.

The tl;dr version: 2-10k; Historical spec-fic; Judeo-Christian values/Western civilization freedom-fighters; not-real-people; don't err on the side of torture porn; don't preach.

What We Want

Catacombs: Martyrs on Earth and Elsewhere is an anthology of stories about fictional martyrs past, present, and future, on Earth or some fictional world. The title is tentative so keep in mind that the final product could have a different title.

This anthology has some specific rules. Please read carefully.

Stories must be historical or speculative fiction; a combination of the two would also be fantastic.

​We are looking for stories about individuals who give up their lives for their faith or for some cause greater than themselves. Judeo-Christian history is replete with stories of individuals who died for their faith, who sacrificed their lives rather than renounce God. Many of these martyrs, such as Sts. Stephen, Sebastian, Agatha, and Lucy, for example, are well known, recognized by one Christian sect or another, and are listed as Saints. For this issue, please send us plausible stories of unknown martyrs from any historic period or some future period or alternate reality, so long as the martyrs are martyred for the faith as understood by traditional Judeo-Christianity.

Please be sure to invent your own martyr and not use an actual historical or legendary figure.

We are also open to stories of individuals who died for other causes dear to the heart of Western civilization. If your hero died for a freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights for instance, go ahead and try it.

For this anthology, we are not interested in stories centered on individuals who died for the values of other great world religions such as Buddhism or Islam, or for pagan or neo-pagan religions such as Hinduism or Wicca respectively. Nor are we interested in heroes of communism, fascism, or for any other form of socialism. We will only accept stories of martyrs in the main theme of Judeo-Christian/Western Civilization. Please do not send a story that redefines or deconstructs the Judeo-Christian Tradition or Western Civilization or makes a martyr out of someone doing that.

Here are a few hints that might be helpful.

“They” say that there are no new plots or stories anywhere. “They” may be right, but you are the only you there is, so send us a story as only you can tell it, one that’s atmospheric, engaging, meaningful, and highly entertaining, has fascinating characters, one that takes place in a unique location or time period.

​We originally envisioned this anthology as another issue of the Potter’s Field series, but it has gone away from that. We’re still looking for works that end up in graveyards in some way. However, it does not have to be a conventional graveyard. Here’s one example: back during the days of the Black Death, bodies were crammed—literally crammed—into mass graves underneath churches. Even today, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, you can take a walking tour deep under the church and see walls of skeletons and dirt. Such a place would also qualify as a graveyard. Your hero could end up in buried in a church, a conventional graveyard, a potter’s field, or elsewhere.

​Dying can be horrible, and many historical martyrs and heroes died horrifically, but we do not want stories that center on the gore, blood, splatter, or slice-and-dice. Sure, it might be good fun to make balloon animals out of someone’s intestines, or find out how long the heart will continue to beat after it has been ripped from the body with a spatula, but that’s not what we want. Your hero has to die and other characters may die as well. That’s fine. Just put a lid on the icky stuff. Your martyr might be burned to death, skinned alive, or drawn and quartered, but don’t make that the point of the story.

​A word about sex and extreme language: We don’t mind it, necessarily, but the sex and/or colorful language must have a purpose. Keep in mind too that someone prepared to die for Christ is probably going to be following his commandments. Someone dying for free speech might be less particular.

​Please know your historical period. If you don’t know anything about the time or setting and write it anyway, you must be banking on my not knowing it either. The editor was a history major in college, so don’t bet on it. Know your stuff or don’t write it.

​Please know about Judeo-Christian Tradition and Western Civilization. If you don’t, please study it at length before submitting a story. We’ll probably notice that you’re uneducated on the topic and reject the story quickly. Study up on it or don’t write it.

​If you choose to write a speculative fiction story, science fiction or fantasy, etc.—and we hope to get some in this vein—please note that the setting must be internally consistent and the hero’s sacrifice must still be based in the Judeo-Christian Tradition and the values of Western Civilization. That is, the future world, alien culture, alternate universe, what have you, must share those integral values in some plausible way.

​Please don’t preach. Sermons don’t make good stories. Your character may preach, of course, but the whole story shouldn’t be a homily or a sermon. It should be a plot with conflict and action enacted by believable characters. That action may be violent or intellectual or legal or so on, but it must be there. Stories go places.

Additional submissions information on their website.