Piece of art by Juan Kantu _1Kan2_ a white skull on a black background with the words the end is my beginning
The End is my beginning by #_1kan2_

The moment I saw Juan Cantu’s art I knew I had to own some. Luckily his work is still affordable (but for how long people!), and I was able to grab this beauty you see above.

Because I was also lucky enough to meet him in person, this kind, gentle, and amazingly talented man, I was also able to get to know him a bit, and keep in touch, and I was so thrilled when he said he’d design the new Halloween Party anthology for us. If you visit Juan’s Instagram (_1kan2_) you will see how macabre, funny, dark, and philosophical his work is. If you like to collect art, I suggest you buy yourself an original while you still can. And, it may interest you to know, Juan is also a veteran. He served his country, and that informs his art, and he works to bring art opportunities to veterans like himself.

We did an interview with Juan, and we’ll be posting that in our newsletter in the coming months. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Halloween Party ’23 | Submissions glitch resolved

Apologies if you tried to submit to Duosuma and received a message indicating that the submissions quota was full.

Glitch is now fixed (has been tested) and is open ONLY until 11/30@ midnight, when it will close for good for this season.

Submit your work now, before it’s too late.

Good luck~

Why not you?

30 days remain

That means it’s not too late to get in on the next Gravelight anthology: HP ’23.

We work hard for our authors, and we’re selective, and we’d like to select you.

Every author you see listed here, in the Exhumed Anthology, was in a prior Devil’s Party Press anthology. We don’t forget our authors, and we put them first for all new opportunities. 

HP ’23 is curated by Jeffrey Keeten, and designed by Juan Cantu~ It’s going to be a gorgeous book!

Guest editor | Halloween Party ’23

by Jeffrey Keeten

Did you know that Jeffrey Keeten is one of the top reviewers on Goodreads? He became interested in DPP books a few years back, and has since partnered with us on many projects, including writing short stories for us, and introducing Halloween Party ’21.

For Halloween Party ’23 Jeffrey is acting as guest editor. He’s reviewing all the entries and picking those that will get published as well as curating the flow of the work within the book.

One thing that’s always captivated me about Jeffrey’s reviews is that they go well-beyond “I like it/I didn’t like it.” He often researches the author, and has read other works by the same writer, and will do a deep dive into the whole canon. Here’s a sample review from Keeten on The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Take one look at the in-depth review and you can see why we’re incredibly grateful to have this gifted reviewer and editor and author on the HP team. Thanks Jeffrey! We can’t wait to see what you do with HP ’23.

Get Jeffrey to review your work. Submit to HP ’23 today!

Want to join the Horror Writers Association?

Turns out, if you were accepted into HP2021, you can!

You weren’t? Well, there’s still time to submit to HP ’23!

One of the global changes we made to our company last year was to make a commitment to pay all authors we put on paper. With that check, you qualify for the HWA. A few of our most recently included authors have already been admitted, on the strength of that single payment.

We hope, as our fledgling publishing endeavor grows, we will be able to pay more writers, and pay those writers more. We are committed in using this company to help you achieve your writing goals.

So excited to know some wonderful and life-long horror writers with many many publications are finally being granted membership in a group they so deserve to belong to!

Before She’s Gone Forever

by Phil Giunta

Phil Giunta is one of the best short story writers producing today. This particular story is incredibly moving, and Phil reading it only adds to it. Enjoy this story on a melancholy fall evening with a glass of wine, and someone you love.

~It took the entire morning, but police divers found Eun-ji’s body in the bay—exactly where I said it would be. I wasn’t entirely forthcoming with them, of course. I didn’t tell them about the pictures. I simply informed them that Eun-ji had talked about exploring the peaks of Geoje Island to find a good spot for cliff jumping. Fearless and heavily influenced by western culture, Eun-ji was what the Americans call an “adrenaline junkie.” Hence the reason she had volunteered for civilian military training in the city of Gimpo last month. That’s where we met. 

As a photographer for the Korea Herald, I had been assigned to shoot the weeklong boot camp. My mandatory two years in the Army had just ended six months prior, so I was still able to keep up with the grueling regimen these college students faced. Nothing extraordinary had occurred during the assignment—other than meeting Eun-ji. Day or night, my camera loved her more than any of the others~

Buy the book, why don’tcha?

Rough stuff…

An early sketch of the HP ’21 cover. I especially liked the two-faced man and the devil in plaid. The candy container would have been filled with bones and other body parts. Death appears on the far right but is largely unseen here due to bad cropping on my part.
An early sketch of the HP ’21 cover with a young Holmes in lieu of the space cadet. This version provides a better view of the trick-or-treat goodies.
The completed cover (as discussed in depth in the 25 October Gravelight post, Natural selection) that ultimately just didn’t fit the bill.

The original concept cover art for HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 came to me fairly quickly. I’d been doing variations on the theme of kids approaching a spooky porch on All Hallow’s Eve for a few years, so I felt this subject would work well. This led to a few sketches prior to producing the final art.

The space cadet was my first choice for the central character, mainly because I gravitate to illustrating retro sci-fi and horror images. Sherlock Holmes was an alternate consideration but it didn’t quite resonate with me. Di and I discussed the art as I began working it up. She wasn’t keen on the images left of the candy-dispensing ghoul, so those were replaced with an open coffin (largely unseen in the final due to the aspect ratio not being quite up to snuff).

Ultimately it was not to be, as previously discussed. But it was, nonetheless, a fun illustration to produce and a good exercise in acknowledging that not all that glitters is gold.

Although Halloween 2021 is over, we still encourage you to support Indy publishing by purchasing a copy of HP ’21 for yourself. You can find it (or special order it) at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

A game of hopscotch

“She felt something hold her hand, place the daisy firmly inside, and close her fingers around it.”

Author Bernie Brown is the author of two stories in HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21, one of which is “Hopscotch.” As its title implies, this tale focuses around an innocent game of hopscotch, but things aren’t quite what they seem.

If you don’t already own a copy of HP ’21, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

Natural selection…

The original, unpublished, cover to Halloween Party ’21.

The 1946 novel, Murder in the Glass Room, is famous for coining the phrase, “You can never tell a book by its cover.” And while this statement has proven true more times than you or I can count, the fact remains that covers and cover design are important aspects of any book regardless of genre or target audience.

Di and I typically collaborate on our covers. Sometimes she’ll come up with the concept, other times I will. By the time all is said and done we’ve done numerous revisions and edits to arrive at what we believe best represents our company/brand as well as our authors, and is likely to capture the attention of the potential buyer.

In the case of HP ’21, I had an idea early on of a porch scene involving a number of children and a ghastly specter. (The original pencils, which I’ll scan and share next time, have even more nasty elements.) As I sketched out the art and began to add colors and texture, I felt fairly confident that the cover would hit the mark. It was only after I completed the page that I realized, almost immediately, that it was wrong for the book. Nevertheless, I scanned the art and imported it into a cover template, but seeing it laid out (the image above) only convinced me further that the art was wrong for HP ’21. Di agreed.

Several aspects of this planned cover troubled me. First, I felt that it was more suited for a young adult or children’s title. It’s not reflective of the seriousness of most of the works found in HP ’21 and I felt it might mislead potential buyers. As well, it’s a big departure from our established house style. Second, I made the mistake of not following the aspect ratio of the cover template. As such, a fair amount of the art on the original board didn’t even make it into the cover template. The back cover, for instance, contains an open coffin with a body inside and lots of rats crawling around it. All lost due to the aspect ratio mismatch. Third, I wanted there to be body parts sticking out the top of the candy bowl. I felt that this element would have given the cover a bit of an edge, but it might just as likely looked silly so it was never incorporated. Lastly, a lot of nuances were lost in the scanning process. I could have redone the scan, but it wouldn’t have resolved the overarching issues.

From a technical perspective I was pleased with the finished product. Having not drawn in ages, I had a number of reservations as to whether I could translate my original sketch into a finished piece. Although I invested a lot of time in the art, I’m not disappointed that we passed on it. What ultimately matters is that the book’s cover is the best it can possibly be. And while I think this cover is okay, I know we made the right decision in passing on it. It’s possible that this art might one day find a home. It’s just not meant to reside with the Halloween Party series.

Speaking of which, if you don’t already own a copy of HP ’21, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

Is she a good daughter?

“Legend says that beneath this mausoleum, deep in the ground, lie the bones of a witch…”

Author Kim DeCicco offers up an eerie tale certain to stay in your head long after you’ve read the last words. We’re thrilled to have this tale in HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 and we think you’ll find that it’s rather special and particularly unique.

If you don’t already own a copy of HP ’21, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.