My 100 word story, Needles [click for link], is included in the 12/2/18 edition of The Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear weekly fiction blog.
I thought of the story more than a year ago as a possible drabble, but never actually wrote it due to laziness. I originally came up with the idea while commuting, which I have found where most of my stories are born. Writing a number of drabbles over the summer, I decided to see if my ‘Needle’ idea worked and finally conquered the procrastination imp to write it.
Thanks to the Horror Tree—Steph Ellis, and Stuart Conover—in publishing. I have been using the Horror Tree for submission ideas, publishing news, and industry tips since I started writing. It’s a great resource, informative, and a big time saver. Glad to contribute a little something to the site, hopefully this goes some of the way to saying thanks!
My latest story, Dreams of the Undersea, [click for link] is available in Eldritch, a full color glossy 8.5 X 11” magazine published by Aphotic Realm.
Some notes on the story. There probably will be no ebook for this issue. Ebooks are great as they are a cost effective way to publish and distribute the written word, especially useful if you have a short story you want published. However, in this case a large part of Eldritch’s aesthetic (and other past Aphotic Realm releases in fact) is in the art and layout. The vibrant colors, illustrations, and background designs contribute to the theme and atmosphere that this issue demands. Therefore, the physical copy, despite the higher price point is the way this magazine was meant to be consumed; much would be lost in stripping out the mere words from the color-filled page.
My story idea for Dreams from the Undersea begins innocently enough. An entirely ordinary man has broken down on the side of the road and has to walk to the next town. Of course, a storm is on the way and it’s getting dark. Also, it’s set in the Midwest, everything a flat field. Not too original, right? Where’s the conflict going to show up? As a writer’s challenge, things devolve getting weirder and weirder step by step, until…well, no spoilers here, you’ll have to read to find out.
The end of a story must be stronger rather than weaker than the beginning, since it is the end which contains the denouement or culmination and which will leave the strongest impression upon the reader.
I started what ended up being this story a while back and put it away. What I had written in that first draft was satisfying in its succession of weird turns stemming from an ordinary beginning, but it had no real direction or consistent theme. So when the submission call from Aphotic Realm for an Eldritch-Lovecraft issue came up, I thought it could be a possible match. Since the story was sufficiently cosmic (and colorful), I re-purposed it as a Lovecraftian tale, adding a certain phantasmagoric aquatic…er, element. (again no spoilers)
Thanks to Dustin, Adrian, Chris, and all the others at Aphotic Realm. This is my third Aphotic Realm appearance. They are a new market who really love their weird, horror, and Sci-fi. Follow them on Facebook/Twitter. I hope everyone can find some way to support them!
Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.
Happy to announce that my new flash fiction story The Scaredy Menis part of the Molotov Cocktail Lit Zine’s Halloween #FlashMonster edition. This story started as one of the drabbles I wrote over the summer for another submission call. Initially titled “Scarecrow Music”, I decided this idea had so many facets and possibilities for something bigger that it needed to be expanded. In fact, one of the many drafts ended up being 1,200 words. Although there were many directions it could have gone, I committed to one pairing it down to the 1,000 word limit.
One of my biggest frustrations in writing is choosing a definite path from the multitude of possibilities any premise can travel. Much like a cornfield maze, I know all the turns that I forewent and wonder if the story would have been better if I had chosen differently. It’s the same with most stories I write, the final result just one possibility out of the hundreds that could have been. Much like regrets and buyer’s remorse over any life decision, I suppose. But that’s another post…
My story ended up finishing 10th in the contest. Congratulations to the winners in the Top 3, and the other stories rounding out the Top 10 as well. Happy that some of my twitter friends, Christopher Stanley and Emma Miller, are part of this issue as well. It’s good to see some familiar faces who have read and commented about my work in the past being successful in their own writing endeavors.
Finally, thanks to Josh and Mary from the Molotov Cocktail for running the contest. I love the illustration for my story (see above). Also, as a top-10 finisher, I will be a part of the year end Molotov anthology which will be my third!
My 101 word story “Vinegar Chips” has been posted at 101Words. It’s the first in a group of drabbles I have recently written. There has been several recent drabble horror anthology releases that have been making the rounds in recent months (DrabbleDark, ed. by Eric S Fomley and 100 Word Horrors, ed. by Kevin J Kennedy), so I thought I would throw my hat into the ring. Perfect, the short-short format, as in the summer, my time to write is limited.
I also have 100 word stories accepted to be published in Chronos: An Anthology of Time Drabbles (available for pre-order) and Drabbledark II (release TBA). Also, I have written two other drabbles that I am waiting for markets to open. Another 100 story I wrote I expanded into a full fledged flash which I am excited about.
Happy to announce my dystopian tale, The Day the Towers Rose, is included in the latest Aphotic Realm release DYSTOPIA. What’s it about? Chances are that society won’t end with a bang. Like most empires, it will slowly waste and erode, the fear of austerity and stagnating culture eventually fracturing the system. How long would you hold onto the life you know? Would you keep going to work knowing the end is near; mow that lawn, keep up with that diet?
I am pretty sure I would hang on to the very end. I would take a minimum wage job mopping the decks of the Titanic instead of making a run for the life rafts. I have grown used to depending on order and rules. Safety. Complacency. So what would you do? Embrace the uncertainty and chaos like a modern day Mad Max? Are you sure? Since everything is temporary and the end is inevitable, why haven’t you checked out of the system already? Quit the job, live off the grid in the mountains. No one’s stopping you. Still sure??
Thanks to A.A. Medina, Dustin Yoak, and everyone else at Aphotic Realm. Dystopia is a giant issue: 100 pages! Other authors include S.J. Budd, John F. Leonard, Brian Black, Kevin Holton, Mandi Jourdan, Lachlan Watt, and Bo Chappell to name a few. Happy to share this issue with all! Also, if you are looking to support Independent authors/presses, check out Aphotic Realm. They work hard and love what they do.
The Thomas Ligotti inspired collection VASTARIEN kicks-off with the one act play, “The Gods in Their Seats, Unblinking” by Kurt Fawver. More accurately, it is an account of play, the playwright and actors vanished and possibly fictional themselves. The traditional roles between actor and audience quickly dissolves. Who are the real performers? Are audience and actors interchangeable? Redundant?
An excellent, thought-provoking story, it not only kept me interested in the narrative, but also in the larger philosophical questions posed. It is said that good art makes the audience an active participant, which is certainly the case here. Perhaps the placement of “Gods in Their Seats, Unblinking” (great title too) as the first story is a subtle hint to which VASTARIEN aspires. In this literary journal, there is a bleeding of fiction, meta-fiction, and nonfiction—the lines between reader and writer blurring much like the participants in Fawver’s play or Ligotti’s own metaphoric twilights and nebulous skylines.
Described as a source of critical study and creative response to the corpus of Thomas Ligotti, as well as associated authors and ideas, VASTARIEN focuses on the thematic elements and dominant subjects of the horror master. While this may sound a bit antiseptic and scholarly, each author brings their own creativity and spirit to their chapter. This is not an echo chamber of a Ligottian ethos or a mimic of his style (unlike the many Lovecraft pastiches out there). Simply put, these are works that occupy a similar rebellious space of existential anxiety and escapism.
Some of the fiction highlights for me are “Nervous Wares & Abnormal Stares” by Devin Goff. A bucolic town is dismantled board by board, shop by shop, the rural niceties a cover for the strange and sinister. Jordan Krall delivers an unsettling, disorienting tale of the crumbling reality of madness in “My Time at the Drake Clinic”. Also, Christopher Slatsky’s mockumentary “Affirmation of the Spirit: Consciousness, Transformation, and the Fourth World in Film” expertly walks the fine line of fiction masquerading as the real.
VASTARIEN’s half dozen nonfiction essays are highlighted by the simply named, “Notes on a Horror” by a psychologist using the alias Dr. Raymond Thoss. This piece provides a penetrating look into the world of trauma and treatment. Written for the layman in four digestible parts, the author makes the case of how Ligottian themes can be used to both conceptualize pathological dissociation associated with such things as PTSD, and how they can actually reconnect a patient to the world. Given how many dismiss Ligotti’s worldview as simply antinatalistic and pessimistic, I found this a compelling demonstration of how Ligotti’s work can relieve and even heal. For someone who has taken much comfort and solace in Ligotti’s words/worlds, I am glad to see this concept eloquently explored.
Finally, closing the collection, is Christopher Ropes’ “Singing the Song of My Unmaking”. This hybrid piece sums VASTARIEN as it is part poem, fictional story, and confessional autobiography blended into a coherent whole. It’s a fitting closer where dissociation, depression, and the dissolving of reality play out under the threatening clouds of engulfing nihilism. A emotional story that will stay with you long after reading.
VASTARIEN is a must read for the Ligotti fan. I found this dedicated journal gave me insights into his works that I hadn’t before. Also, to see what Ligotti inspires in others was something I hadn’t anticipated and gave me much to contemplate. For those who may not be familiar with Ligotti, there is a lot to enjoy here, nothing too esoteric or ‘inside’. The different pieces, while certainly challenging, are never out of reach, written both for the neophyte and Ligotti-phile. The inclusion of starkly personal works, too, make this an accessible book. An exciting beginning to the VASTARIEN journey. Congratulations to editors Jon Padgett and Matt Cardin of ‘Thomas Ligotti Online’ to make this project come to fruition. Looking forward to Issue 2!