O Unholy Night in Deathlehem – a holiday horrors charity anthology available now

My doom laden Christmas story, TRADITIONS AND ROTTEN DELICACIES, is included in the latest edition of the Grinning Skull Press annual Deathlehem charity anthology series available here. Its for a good cause as proceeds go to The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

This was a story I wrote a long time ago which was to be included in a Christmas/winter weird horror anthology by me. Due due to some heroic procrastination techniques I diligently employed throughout 2018, it hasn’t yet gotten off the ground, so it gave me an excuse to work on polishing one of the stories. Plus, it’s going to a good cause.

Thanks to Harrison Graves (editor) and Grinning Skull Press for publishing. Other authors include fellow flash fiction writers I often get published with Wiebo Grobler and Christopher Stanley (#teamdarkness).

Happy holidays and good reading!

S.E. Casey

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Hinnom Magazine 006 – Author Interview and Short Story Published

Hinnom Magazine Issue 006 <click link> is now live. Available in digital and print, it includes my short story “O’ Babylon” as well as stories by Ed Kurtz, George Taylor, Ashley Dioses, Kevin M Folliard, P.L McMillian, and Brianna Zigler. Also reviews, articles, and an interview of Bram Stoker nominated author S.P. Miskowski.

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Author Spotlight: and interview with S.E. Casey

I also was interviewed by Gehenna & Hinnom Book’s founder C.P. Dunphey in an author spotlight <click link>. We discussed my motivations for writing, influences, philosophy, and the background on my story. Hear me shamelessly talk about myself and butcher a Dostoyevsky title.

Thanks go out to Gehenna & Hinnom, and especially C.P.  Dunphey. It was a great experience being published by Hinnom Magazine, the communication and the support they showed me was great. Please support this press, this is truly a publisher who has a great respect for the horror, sci-fi, and weird genres and is dedicated to helping indie authors. Here is a recent interview of C.P. Dunphey from Horror Tree <click link> for more info on Gehenna & Hinnom.

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Hinnom Magazine 006 available at Amazon, digital and print

 

 

The Hunger House – Story in The Sirens Call Magazine #38

My story “The Hunger House” has been published in The Sirens Call Ezine #38 (free to download). My story is part of my “Red Girls” mythos that I am slowly releasing across various publications. This issue is 184 pages(!), stories, drabbles, poems etc by some familiar names, Christopher Stanley, Maura Yzmore, David B. Harrington, Brian Bogart, Kevin Holton, and Myk Pilgrim to name a few.

2018_april_ezine_coverThe seeds of this story came last summer when I was trying to come up with a 500 word maximum horror submission call. One of my ideas sprung from a house that I pass most everyday at sunset. In wring the first draft, I went way past the 500 word limit and knew it would be impossible to chop down without making it incoherent. Hating to leave any story half-finished, recently I filled in the missing details, edited, and polished it. Seeing a submission call for general horror stories by The Siren’s Call, I decided to kick it out of the house and put it to work.

 

See below for a picture of the actual house. It sits on the shores of Buzzard’s Bay and has a catwalk that rings a dual white chimney. Of course, the house in my story is larger, more historic, with a shorter chimney, etc. Basic writer trickery to fit around the story. Its not a historic house, but, as a side note, a famous person did live there for a number of years.

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The Hunger House

 

Here is the original drabble I wrote introducing the Red Girls mythos:

THE RED GIRLS

He left the door unlocked.

All doors were locked the nights the Red Girls visited.

Colonel Emerick Aldrich sipped his cognac. However, he couldn’t taste it. There wasn’t much he could enjoy anymore. Even the heat from the roaring fire felt dull.

He heard the door handle rattle behind him, a pattering of little feet on the hardwood.

They stood him up like a marionette. The old man smiled, he would get to see the Red Girls, a fitting finale to his life. But they didn’t turn him around, forcing him to take one step after another toward the fire.

Also, see the link for a follow-up Red Girls 300 word story, “Courtship of the Sewer King”.

Thanks to The Sirens Call: Julianne, Nina, and Lee for publication. Check out the other projects/magazine issues/submission calls from The Sirens Call here ⇒ (click for link).

S.E. Casey

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O’ Babylon – Hinnom Magazine Pre-Order

I am happy to announce my modern cosmic horror short story O’ Babylon has been accepted to be published by Hinnom Magazine. It will be a part of issue 006 along with stories by Brianna Zigler, George Taylor, Ed Kurtz, P.L McMillan, Ashley Dioses, and Kevin M. Folliard. Also, there will be an interview of the always great (and very nice) S.P Miskowski along with reviews of her latest two books. The magazine will be released on May 1, and can be pre-ordered here.

 

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O’ Babylon 

 

I will have more notes on the actual story after the magazine has been released. But I want to thank C.P. Dunphey of Gehenna & Hinnom Books. Anyone starting a press is a brave soul as it is a lot of work and risk. Here is a publishing house dealing in the weird and strange genre that produces regular high quality releases and is a paying market. I’ve submitted twice, (one rejection) and the process each time was great: professional and positive. For any of my writer friends, it’s a great market to submit—no games, good response times, and plenty of communication. Please support G&H. I am rooting for them and look for great things in the future.

-S.E. Casey

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O’ Babylon artwork by David Dawkins at Gehenna and Hinnom Books

Year End 2017 Writing Wrap Up and Resentments

In 2017, I did some research on the psychology of resentment according to Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Orwell, and others. Certainly, resentment has driven the political climate in the 20th century to great ruin, but it is also present in shaping our own identity and behavior. It’s a powerful and universal emotion (it’s no coincidence that the second bible story—Cain and Abel— is all about it) and I’ve been honest in recognizing when it rears up in me.

Before we delve into the resentments, the good things first. My two favorite books of 2017 were THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM by Jon Padgett and CREEPING WAVES by Matthew M Bartlett. These two weird horror books were a joy to read, masterfully capturing the spirit of the genre and stoking my imagination. I prefer stories based on philosophy, and the ontological underpinnings of degradation and rot were front and center in both books. Click the titles for my full ‘existential’ reviews.

One of my regrets (not quite a resentment) is that I didn’t do more reading. I have discovered many authors and books that I am excited to dive into, but I need the time and patience to actually sit down and read. Reading is a necessary step to make anyone a better writer, and this is where I need to put in the road work. Currently, I am reading the short story collections ALECTRYMANCER by Christopher Slatsky and BEHOLD THE VOID by Philip Fracassi with OCCULTATION by Laird Barron on deck. I read a great story by Livia Llewellyn this year online (she conjured such a creepy atmosphere which was so dead-on perfect that it really fired up my resentment meter) and must get something by her soon.

Onto the resentments! For psychologist Carl Jung, the pathway to higher wisdom is only accessible through your ‘shadow’ self, which is the really dark and nasty parts of us we don’t like to admit. Most people deny their resentments, but repressing what is an essential part of us can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse. Think of the metaphoric warning of the intractable horror of the over-civilized Dr. Jekyll and the animalistic Mr. Hyde. Jung argued that we should shine a light on resentments to bring them into our whole, a much healthier condition than Jekyll/Hyde. He didn’t stop short of just naming the darkness, but encouraged a celebration of our rascalarity.

So have I been conscious of any resentments that well up in me. Generally, there are two kinds. We resent when we are truly wronged, or, and this is far more common, we resent when projecting our own failings onto others. Both inform us of the obstacles either external or internal that we need to overcome and which require action to resolve.

My main goal for the year was to become a better writer. Reading other’s work, writing as much as I can (anything including blog posts), and asking for feedback with other writers/readers was the plan. I’ve admitted my failure in the reading department and I could have written much more. Saying I didn’t have ‘the time’ would be a lie—frivolous distractions, laziness, and flagging motivation were the main culprits. However, on the last front, I did trade several stories with other authors. Seeing my stories through another’s eye was a little scary, but proved to be a revelation. More than helping to better the individual story, the general feedback provided me some vital clues of my weaknesses and blind spots as well as some of my writerly strengths which were equally hidden to me. Thanks to everyone who has read for me this year and have been candid with the comments!

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of flash fiction and short stories published over the last year. However, nothing was pro-paying or widely read. This is probably a garden variety resentment among writers—why did I get rejected to market X, or, why did so-and-so’s story get accepted over mine, etc. Truth is, I didn’t submit to many high profile markets in the first place, not wanting to waste my time with the inevitable rejection I assumed I would get. Also, I had a goal of publishing a short story collection of Christmas horror stories which never happened. I wrote all the first drafts in 2016 and figured I would edit them during the year and publish. However, I never felt the editing was done, and dragged my feet on commissioning a cover for it anyway. I felt a great weight off my shoulders when I decided to shelve it until 2018. Despite my protestations of a lack of time, deep down I know I am capable of improving the stories if I honestly put in the work to become a better writer.

The greatest resentment over a specific story of mine was a short story I disguised as an am-writing blog post titled: Self-editing Tips and the Doorway to Enlightenment. The ultimate purpose was the fiction element, an existential descent into embracing the ‘shadow’ self. The actual writing tips I used were only meant to be misdirection to the unfolding horor. However, the comments I received were about the usefulness of the writing tips which were either because no one really read it, or my story set-up and execution was too obtuse. The shame of a mockumentary taken literally.

Also on the resentments reel in 2017 was Facebook. Gaining exposure is difficult so I joined up this year fearful I was missing out on a batch of readers just pining for my stuff. However, it’s never that easy. I admit to anxiety and some measure of dread when receiving messages or anything posted to my timeline as I am oblivious to proper social media etiquette to respond as well as paranoid of other’s ulterior motives. Facebook is probably not that hard or sinister. My resentment is probably me dragging my feet in learning it functions and using it more. It may help too if I don’t view every person who attempts to interact with me so cynically as if they are some wild dog set loose in my house.

Of course, there are many more resentments, too many to list, some amazingly petty, others pointless, but accepting my shadow hopefully will help me to become a better and more productive writer. Owning up to my fears, indignations, and jealousies, the right path is becoming clear, as opposed to the idealistic one we all like to believe exists where short-cuts and tricks can get you by.

Thanks to everyone who stuck it out to the end of this post. I’ll leave with a link to a free story I posted late in the year which may be my unconscious way to sum up my 2017 in writing. My working title for this was ‘The House of Flame’; however, I figured out why I was compelled to write it, made some changes, and retitled it the fitting, RAINBOWS AND RESENTMENT.

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-S.E. Casey

 

The Toy Gun Factory- Flash Fiction Story

My Christmas horror flash fiction, THE TOY GUN FACTORY, has been chosen as the seventh day of Christmas story in the Horror Scribe’s December contest. Twelve days before Christmas, a stygian tree mysteriously and anonymously is driven through the Shaker Hills Mall parking lot setting off a myriad of sinister phenomena including the reviving of the dilapidated toy gun factory at the edge of town. While there is no demand for what the shuttered factory is producing, they pay. On Christmas, in someway, we all pay.

Thanks to Horror Scribes for running this contest. Everyone please check out their site and the other eleven stories in the contest (one a day wrapping up Jan 5th). Also, they run periodic 300 word story contests, so my fellow writers take note!

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THE TOY GUN FACTORY         *CLICK FOR LINK*

 

About ‘Playing Dead’ – my short story featured in ‘Monsters Exist’ and Goya and Saturn

Excerpt from Playing Dead:

Under the golden eye of Saturn, the only celestial light visible in the pre-night sky, the field vomited up a monstrosity. Rickety poles tilted at odd angles. Slug-like tents squirmed from the ground like nightcrawlers after a downpour. Deflated minarets rose reluctantly, topped with flaccid banners that didn’t look like they could be aroused in a gale. Dark outlines of amusement park rides contorted in fossil shapes of prehistoric skeletons. Faded neon lights blinked and flickered, the dashes and dots spelling out some forgotten mariner distress signal.

My short story Playing Dead is one of fourteen featured in the upcoming anthology Monsters Exist published by the Deadman’s Tome. As a writer who leans toward the weird, two of my favorite “go-to” horror spaces are Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Francisco Goya’s ‘black period’ paintings. As the submission call for Monsters Exist asked for some presence of a monster, of course, Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Children (1823) sprung to mind.

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Goya – “Saturn* (1823)

Where a Wonka-esque twilight carnival serves as the physical setting, the Goya painting contributes to its plot and theme. As some background, Goya’s Saturn is based on a Peter Paul Ruben’s painting Saturn Devouring His Son (1636). Ruben’s Saturn (the Greek Titan Cronus, god of time) is represented as a robust, muscular old man who is wholly focused on his victim. Ruben’s style is reminiscent of Michelangelo, detailed and grandiose. By contrast, Goya’s painting is a fuzzy nightmare, the brush strokes smudged and unspecific. Goya’s Saturn is a wild hominid who crouches awkwardly, his legs too spindly to properly support himself. But it is the eyes that mark the biggest difference between the two paintings. In Goya’s dark shadowy backdrop, the only white is Saturn’s eyes, to which the viewer’s own are immediately drawn. The fact that the sclera (white part of the eyeball) can be seen above, below, and to the side of the iris (called sanpaku eyes) is a subliminal, evolutionary cue of madness and impulsive violence. Ever wonder why Charlie Manson’s gaze is so unnerving? You may not have been able to rationalize it, but it is his exaggerated sanpaku condition that intuitively triggers a deep-rooted danger instinct. Equally disturbing, Goya’s Saturn is not looking at his victim, but seemingly staring right off the page at us. One of Saturn’s brows is tilted upward as if asking the question, “Who am I, and why am I doing this?” perhaps implicating us as conspirators in his crime against humanity!

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Rubens – Saturn Devouring His Son (1636)

Goya, too, could have depicted the human victim in grand distress as Rubens did. However, there is no arterial spray, or limb splayed akimbo, suggesting of any struggle. There also isn’t any hint of tragedy in the picture. Saturn’s unfortunate quarry is secondary in the composition, and in fact, a case could be made that she is actually complicit in the act. Is she willingly offering her left arm to be eaten?

The monster lore I choose for Playing Dead is the devil-monkey of New Hampshire, a local legend of an aggressive, yet shy primate running around in the region’s copious woodlands. Naturally, the few reported sightings have been unrecorded and unsubstantiated. I added a few cosmic elements to make the creature reminiscent of the bushy-haired, sentient Saturn. While my narrative obviously references the depicted Goya scene, it also grapples with the existential struggles related to time (Cronus). What do we do with the limited days we have? Are we living according to our will, or simply to please someone else? And are we overly agreeable: playing life too safe?

Monsters are everywhere in this sense, the external representations of things we internally fear, man’s hobgoblins, bugbears, strawmen, and other bogeymen. I like the symmetry of Monsters Exist having fourteen stories, as well. Goya’s Saturn was one of fourteen works he painted directly onto the plaster walls of his famed villa, “The House of the Deaf Man”

As for the inspiration of the main character, that middle aged man drowning in a rancid soup of his own psyche, caught in the throes of some Jungian midlife meltdown, in which the conscious and unconscious—what is real and what is metaphor—become indistinguishable, and yet who still manages to go to work every day maintaining an outward veneer of calm and normality? Well, that’s another story for another day…

S.E. Casey

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GOODREADS LINK: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35298232-deadman-s-tome