Table of Contents: Chilling Horror Short Stories

Flame Tree Publishing has released the Table of Contents for their new line of Gothic Fantasy line that includes Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Chilling Horror Short Stories, and Science Fiction Ghost Stories.

 

For more insight into the process of reading and choosing the stories, as well as the editing and design of this new line, check out their GONE TO PRESS blog.

I’m extremely pleased to be part of this project, excited to see the finished product, and hope you’ll consider picking up a copy next month.

Cheers!

Books I’ve Read: The King in Yellow Tales: Vol. 1

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I just finished reading Joseph S. Pulver, Sr’s collection: The King in Yellow Tales vol 1. Now, maybe it’s because I’ve been buried in text books for the better part of the last decade and my brain was starved for anything that wasn’t concerned with mastering the art of diagnosis, but for me, this book was something special.

I must confess that up until relatively recently (within the last six months or so) I had not yet found the yellow sign, so to speak. I was unaware that Robert W. Chambers, Joe Pulver, or the King in Yellow even existed. I was introduced to the mythology when I began tuning in to The Lovecraft eZine webcast which features Joe Pulver as a recurring panelist. Inspired by curiosity about the play which induced madness in all who read it, I did what any reasonable person would do: purchased Chambers’s King in Yellow. I found it quite readable for having been written at the turn of the 20th century, but I digress.

Having familiarized myself with the source  material, I was ready to see what had been done to expand the mythology. This is where Joe Pulver comes in; it is my understanding that he’s the undisputed contemporary authority and Earthly familiar of the King in Yellow himself. It only seemed natural to start there.

I picked up King in Yellow Tales: vol 1 with zero expectations. I’d never read Joe’s work before, so I had no point of reference—good or bad.

This collection is not a breezy afternoon read. By that I mean that many of these tales do not follow a traditional narrative structure. The language, the formatting, and the unease that results when these elements combine whisper madness in your ear. Often, there are no (easy) answers, and one must read between the lines to decipher the yellow text just waiting to be revealed.

Among my favorites were:

The Carl Lee & Cassilda Trilogy (Carl Lee & Cassilda; An American Tango Ending in Madness; Hello is a Yellow Kiss)

Chasing Shadows

My Mirage

A Cold Yellow Moon (with Edward R. Morris, Jr.)

With each of these tales I was swept into a dreamworld of ashy daylight and jaundiced shadows, and despite having never traveled these roads before, there was a familiarity to it all. Like returning visit to your hometown after time and memory have rendered it unrecognizable, but still there is that pull…

You belong here.

These are stories to be experienced, not consumed. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to read, pages that can be opened and closed in an afternoon and then tossed back onto the pile without a second thought, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in something deeper—if you’re willing to burn the torch, venture into the shifting darkness, and risk glimpsing something not of this Earth—then I highly recommend this collection. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends. Hell, buy it for your enemies because you just never know…

I have another of Joe’s anthologies, the recently released A House of Hollow Wounds. It isn’t next on my TBR pile, but after KiY vol 1, it will probably move up a couple of spots.

Publication Announcement: Ecdysis

The contract has been signed and returned, and the requested period of confidentiality has passed, so I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sold my story, ECDYSIS, to Flame Tree Publishing.

 

Sometimes, signing contracts is exciting!

Sometimes, signing contracts is exciting!

 

Ecdysis will appear in the forthcoming anthology, Gothic Fantasy: Chilling Horror Short Stories. The following description is from the product page:

With a new foreword by Dr Dale Townshend, this is a chilling selection of brand new stories, and essential tales of horror from the infamous pens of Walter de La Mare, William Hope Hodgson, Arthur Machen, Henry James, Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and other nefarious authors… A dazzling collection of the most gripping tales of horror, vividly told.

 

Hardback Deluxe edition, printed on silver, matt laminated, gold foil stamped, embossed.: 280,000 words, 480 pages, 25 illustrations

Hardback Deluxe edition: 480 pages, 25 illustrations

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this collection, and I hope that when it becomes available you’ll consider checking it out. Publication is scheduled for August 15, 2015.

Double the celebration! Double the Flash!

Good afternoon. Happy Father’s Day and Happy Solstice.

For those of you who don’t follow my other blog, The Angry Hourglass, I host a weekly flash fiction challenge that takes place over the weekend. It’s part of a vast and colorful (or colourful for my friends across the Atlantic) online flash fiction community that I’m happy to be a part of. As with many communities that share a passion, we’ve created a nickname and hash tag to identify ourselves and share our love on social media: #FlashDogs. Over the past few years, the Flash Dogs have come together and created an anthology series (all proceeds donated to charity) featuring the medium we all hold dear—flash fiction.

What does any of this have to do with Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice?

This year the two holidays coincide. They also happen to coincide with the release of the Flash Dogs’ second anthology, that is itself a two-volume piece. These themed volumes are aptly titled Solstice: Dark and Solstice: Light.

photo from The Flash Dogs website

photo from The Flash Dogs website

I have a story in Solstice: Dark, but even if I didn’t, I’d recommend picking up this set. The quality of writing that these writers produce on a weekly basis (and many of them several times per week, depending on just how many flash fiction challenges they tackle) is astounding. I wish I had the stamina to produce like these folks.

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Me and Dad and unofficial Flash Dog mascots, Cayenne and Poncho

So! Celebrate Father’s Day! Celebrate Solstice! Celebrate Flash Fiction and the mission of literacy! Swing by The Flash Dogs website and follow the links to your favorite flash format (print or ebook) and enjoy.

I have a few updates regarding upcoming publications that I will announce in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Flash Dogs In Print

Just got my hands on a print copy of the Flash Dogs Anthology, and it’s prettier than I could have imagined. If you still haven’t picked up this collection of flash fiction, head over to theflashdogs.com and follow the appropriate link.  Remember, all proceeds go to charity, so in addition to getting some great stories, you’re also contributing to a good cause. 🙂

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Short Story Mechanics with Richard Thomas: Day 2

Narrative hooks—those first few words that sink into your reader’s flesh and drag them through the depths of your story only to leave them gasping onshore when they reach its end. You do want your readers to follow the story all the way to the end, don’t you? Of course you do! So make sure those hooks are good and sharp; and if you’re writing horror (like me) throw in a couple of rusty barbs for good measure.

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This was the lesson for Day 2. Our assignment was to come up with five hooks, four of which could be only one sentence long. I don’t know about you, but I tend to write short sentences, so trying to include all the information necessary to craft a good hook in just one was a challenge for me. I think I succeeded to some degree, but it was Richard’s opinion that they all lacked a little something. I’ll probably visit and revisit these hooks a number of times over the next however long it takes me to get each of the stories written, and hopefully by the time you see them in print, they will be sharper and rustier than ever leaving you with a bloody hole in your lip and a smile on your face.

Here’s what I came up with:

1:  Audrey first noticed the spider when it was still only 105* inside the sauna; the spider was tiny, only the size of a pencil eraser, but the dread it inspired was large enough to crush a Greyhound.

2:  As frigid rain cut and shaped frozen heaps of road-stained snow into twin rows of sculptures that lined both sides of the two-lane highway like an army of malformed sentinels, Lyska—wearing nothing but a skimpy, black and white French maid costume and a pair of stripy pink knee-socks—gripped a World War II era gas mask in one hand while using the other to lift her skirt’s hem just a bit higher.

3:  It was date night again; Lester caressed cracked leather and inhaled the ghosts of a million dead cigarettes as he counted hash marks on the dash—one for every romantic evening that had culminated in sweet satisfaction.

4:  To a casual observer, the jagged split in the floor of the abandoned mortuary’s basement was nothing more than a sign of entropy slowly reducing the loathsome edifice—and, perhaps more importantly, the shadows of past deeds still clinging to memory within its halls—to dust; to Sean, that crooked concrete smile was his own personal ATM.

5:  The waiting room smells like a department store perfume counter. Heavy particles of floral vapor orbit each of the eight or ten women—some still with hair, others wearing designer hats or kerchiefs—as they sit reading magazines, sipping ginger ale plucked from my snack cart, and pretend they aren’t dying. Each woman waits patiently, wrapped in a cocoon of aerosolized denial designed to mask the scent of her own decay. It is as if by dousing themselves in expensive, migraine-inducing fragrances these women think they might confuse Death, throwing him off track, as if by buying PETA-friendly cosmetics and perfumes they are actually buying themselves extra time.

Short Story Mechanics with Richard Thomas: Day 1

I’m taking a class over at LitReactor from dark fiction writer Richard Thomas. This isn’t my first online writing class, but I’m hoping that, in conjunction with all of the other tools I’ve acquired along the way, this class will be a major turning point with regards to my ability to translate ideas into coherent narratives. I told Richard that over the next week, I intend to absorb his powers, but he warned me that magic comes always comes with  a price…

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As long as that price doesn’t match what I paid for my MD, I think it’s worth the risk.

Our first assignment was to write a six-sentence story. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year working with flash fiction (Go #FlashDogs!), but that didn’t make the assignment any easier. Fortunately, I didn’t fall flat on my face as I’d feared I would. Richard had some lovely comments for me and suggestions to make my story stronger, as well as a few things to consider in general when writing short fiction.

All in all, I’d call today a success. Can’t wait to see what Richard has in store for me tomorrow.