The Gatekeeper’s Burden

by Josh Schlossberg

As a horror author who submits fiction to publishers, I often find myself standing in the cold outside the gates of the City of Readers. As an editor who gets submissions for anthologies, I’m also someone who decides who gets to come in.

In other words, I’m both a “gatekeeper” and someone who is “gate-kept.” So a question I’m always pondering is: What is the role (and responsibility) of a gatekeeper?

Over the years I’ve submitted my work to hundreds of editors and agents. In my experience, about half of them never respond at all. Many of the rest send a form rejection, usually months to even years later. Only a small percentage get back to me within several weeks to tell me they’ve passed on my work or not, and a handful of those will explain why.

Turns out, every gatekeeper I’ve interacted with has taught me how to become a better gatekeeper myself, sometimes by example, often by teaching me how not to behave.

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Praise for MALINAE

“The questions of sanity, insanity, horror, and reality create a compelling first-person narrative…Thoroughly engrossing reading that incorporates twists and turns even avid horror readers won’t see coming.”

-Midwest Book Review


“An incredible book about growing old with the one you love…well-crafted and fine enough to be placed in my collection of cosmic horror…”

-Lovecraft eZine


“[M]asterful blend of horror…I cannot praise Josh Schlossberg enough for this incredible story…reminiscent of when I was reading Ira Levin’s ROSEMARY’S BABY with a hint of the feel that Robert Bloch gave off in PSYCHO. Josh’s writing is eloquent, and completely engrossing!…This is a must read of 2021.”

-Andy’s Honest Reviews


“A disturbing story that masterfully weaves a large helping of horror into an already terrifying take on aging and Alzheimer’s.”

-Uncomfortably Dark


“The story is intricate and woven together beautifully. Josh is a master storyteller, and MALINAE is the proof…This is a story that will tug at your heart on many levels. Highly recommended.”

-William Holden, author of JACK and ALL MORTAL FLESH


“Carried along on a dive to terrifying depths where nothing is quite as it seems, MALINAE has everything we could hope for from a story: suspense, horror, sex, and biting humor.”

-JoAnn Chaney, author of WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW and AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE


“Haunting, harrowing, and beautiful, MALINAE is one of those books that sticks with you long after the last chapter. A seaside tale of love and terror, the sunset years have never been more frightening or visceral than in Josh Schlossberg’s deft hands.”

-Matthew Lyons, author of THE NIGHT WILL FIND US


“Fast paced and compelling, MALINAE is a cautionary tale about the dangers of negativity in an already tumultuous world. At its core it’s a love story, surrounded by unspeakable horror.”

-Claire L. Fishback, author of THE BLOOD OF SEVEN


“MALINAE is a thought provoking and horrific ride, one that will reverberate in your memory long after you turn the last page.”

-Gary Robbe, educator and horror writer

What In Hell Do You Want From Me?

So, I’ve been thinking lately (never too late to start!): Is there anything more narcissistic than publishing a newsletter dedicated solely to oneself?

Of course, the reality of being a writer today is that if you don’t promote your work, no one will read it. While I certainly write for myself, I’m also doing so to connect with weirdos like you. Hence this newsletter.  

Now, I’ve tried to turn Josh’s Worst Nightmare into something larger than myself, focusing on biological horror fiction rather than just my latest scribblings. Which is why I’ve done everything from putting out my infamous Haiku Horror Reviews of bio-horror books, to hosting Beast Bout brackets (where you get to vote on which monster you think would win in an actual fight), to short, subtitled music videos I’ve been calling “Micro Bio Horror.”

But I’ll be honest: Engagement wasn’t that high for these attempts, so instead of putting time into stuff people aren’t that interested in–don’t worry, I’m not hurt!–I’ve regressed back to simply promoting my latest work and sharing a few horror fiction-related musings in this here editorial. 

Still, ultimately, I’d like to make Josh’s Worst Nightmare something you’re excited about, rather than just one more thing to labor through with an obligatory scan, ignore, or send straight to the trash.  

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