Category Archives: Short Stories
Looking for a Rain God, Bessie Head
This is considered a classic and is taught in many literary classrooms, but I think of it as a horror story: when pushed to the brink, there is almost no limit to what atrocities humanity can commit. This extremely short tale examines the effect of desperation on a family stricken with drought–but it’s the matter-of-fact way in which it’s rendered that gives one chills.
My blood curdles every time I read this. It’s not an easy piece to find because it mostly appears in textbooks, but there’s a wonderful collection—Looking for a Rain God: An Anthology of Contemporary African Short Stories—here.
I’m pleased to announce that the anthology I’ve spent a year curating, Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Anthology Volume 7—Decay is now available! Containing fifteen pieces by young, fresh, and seasoned voices alike, the stories in this volume focus on the various ways decay permeates our lives and very beings.
I’ve always wanted to put together an anthology, so it was thrilling when Dark Alley Press gave me the opportunity. It’s been an incredible journey—I’ve worked with some very talented writers, and was able to put awesome new discoveries as well as stories that haunted me for years either into print or back into print. One of the most exciting things about this anthology is that it contains writer Daniel Pearlman’s final first draft, which his widow, Sandy, graciously agreed to let us publish.
Ink Stains is available wherever you purchase books. Here’s the Table of Contents and a specially prepared preview you can print or download (at the bottom of this post). Get your full copies here:
Amazon Print: http://bit.ly/inkstains7
Amazon Kindle: http://bit.ly/inkstains7K
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As We Rot – Taro Turner
Christmas in Connecticut – Robert Mayette
The Depths – Elizabeth Allen
Heroes – Jackie Logsted
The Mating Habits of the Late-Adopting Smoker – Dorianne Emmerton
Stikini – Travis D. Roberson
The Fate of the Worms – Page Sullivan
Ignorance Is – Rhonda Zimlich
Black-Hooded Caller – Pablo Patiño
The Cold Gets In – Mary Thorson
Do the Faceless Remember? – Megan Neumann
Suicide in Reverse (After Matt Rasmussen) – Bri Faythe
The Leaf People – Heather Sullivan
Letting in the Cat – Kaitlyn Downing
Overdrawn at the Time Bank – Daniel Pearlman
Photo: The Singer’s Last Stand – Christopher Petersen
Get a PDF sample here: Ink Stains Sample
The Last Words of the Mynah Bird, Gina Ochsner
This tale of a quarrelsome couple who secures a mynah bird in the hopes it will save their marriage opens up in the same fashion as Poe’s “The Black Cat”—giving what might have been a typical first-person story opening an irresistible mystique. At times, this fun little read is comically shocking, but its commentary on the ups and downs of communication, the impact of our language on one another and the nature of love leaves a serious impression. It can be found in her collection People I Wanted to Be here: http://a.co/06f5j8C
The Wind, Ray Bradbury
This is one of my favorites by Ray Bradbury. Although it’s not written in the first person, we wonder if the main character’s friend may be an unreliable narrator—until things take a stunningly original, bone-chilling turn. What’s interesting is that the story is mostly rendered in dialogue, which parallels the nature of the very antagonist itself; the tension also ratchets non-stop. If you like refreshingly different, this one’s for you. You can find it in his fine collection October Country here: https://amzn.com/034532448X
One Last E-Ticket Ride, Dominick Cancilla
As you’re reading this, I’m in Walt Disney World (really…I’m enjoying Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival at the moment). So I thought it’d be apropos to recommend Dominick Cancilla’s “One Last E-Ticket Ride.”
This twisted, hilarious tale of a loyal Disney Cast Member who is fired and seeks revenge conveys a powerful message about loss of identity in one of the most interesting environments possible, but what makes it stand out is its consistent, sardonic voice. It manages to be humorous and depressing at the same time, and the result is one hell of a ride (groan).
What’s sad about this story is it’s difficult to find. It was originally published in a collection called Going Postal, edited by Gerard Daniel Houarner, in 1998. Still, keep your eyes open. Disney Parks fan or not, this one is a must-read. Although the publisher (Space & Time) still exists, I could find no mention of how to purchase this through them even though it’s rumored to be available there, so, I guess we’re relegated to watching this link for used copies: http://a.co/1n8ip4d.
Just in time for Halloween season, Great Old Ones Publishing reveals the cover and table of contents for Invocations, an anthology focusing on all those things we shouldn’t be summoning.
The cover is by Mj Preston, author of The Acadia Event.
My short story “We’ve Always Been Here” – a little bit of a different take on killer clowns – will be featured alongside these other fantastic contemporary horror writers. I’ll keep you posted on the release date. The TOC is as follows:
Foreword by Dan Lench
1. High Tea with Ancient Gods by Judi Ann Calhoun
2. Uncanny by E.g. Smith
3. American Macabre by Gregory Norris
4. Hunger by Dan Szczesny
5. Mirror, Mirror by Edwin Berne
6. Black Eyes, Blacker Soul by Patrick Lacey
7. Down Time Children by Irene Gallant
8. Hell and Back by Marinda Dennis
9. Let’s Go See the Honeyman by Kyle Rader
10. One Shot, One Kill by Eric S Brown
11. The Snow Lion by Coopersmith Black
12. Eyes by Tony Tremblay
13. The Butterfly Queen by Shannon Grant
14. Penance and Pressure Cookers by Philip Perron
15. We’ve Always Been Here by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
16. The Leyak by Mj Preston
I spent the first six months of this year as a guest editor for an upcoming issue of Dark Alley Press’ Ink Stains anthology series, and I’m pleased to announce that, except for a couple of rounds of proofing and the fact that the cover isn’t complete, it’s in the can!
This was my first stint as guest editor, and it was nothing short of a magical experience. There was something special about not just cherry-picking pieces for a collection from a slush pile, but curating a collection; tapping talent for some unpublished stories that had haunted me for—in some cases—a quarter of a century, or always anticipating that moment when that perfect story I have to have! would appear in the submissions manager.
In addition, every writer I worked with shared the vision; it was an enlightening journey in every sense of the phrase.
The theme of the issue was my choice—decay. It’s a pervasive Read the rest of this entry
Goddamn Electric, K. Allen Wood
Zombie stories have never been my favorite—they tend to take a tired thing and beat it to its last gasp in a not-too original way. However, I found several gems in 2011’s The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1; each story offers a thrilling, interesting, and refreshing twist on the trope. Not one would I consider a “standard” Zombie story.
If my statement still doesn’t entice you, consider this one story alone: “Goddamn Electric,” by K. Allen Wood.
In one of the most richly-detailed, atmospheric, yet suspenseful pieces I’ve read in a long time, “Goddamn Electric” induces chills in part because of its literary sensibilities: it deftly uses single effect in all its glory. This story about a small town full of crotchety New Englanders about to get their comeuppance is not to be missed–I promise you, it’s different than any other zombie thing you’ve ever read. Grab it here: https://amzn.com/0982159641
Partial Eclipse, Graham Joyce
In a future devoid of creativity, a couple is about to become parents for a second time. This comment on expectations and disappointment manages to flesh out an entire world—replete with an alternate history—beautifully in its few short pages, although its real message is cleverly revealed in an ending the reader doesn’t expect.
Personally, I love this story for its corporeal rendering; there are at least two images I never forgot after having read this for the first time over a decade ago.
“Partial Eclipse” is the opening story in Joyce’s collection Partial Eclipse and Other Stories. I did not realize how lucky I was to have a signed, numbered, limited-edition copy of this book (and now I’m sorry I wrote in it, but hell, it’s what I do with every book I cherish!) until I went to find information for this post. Everywhere I looked was sold out. Amazon, it looks like, occasionally gets some second-handers: https://amzn.com/B000MVQWTA If you’re desperate, reach out to me through my Contact Page.
Nothing makes a road trip go faster than a good audio book…Tricks & Treats: A Collection of Spooky Tales by Connecticut Authors–which contains my short story “Crawl” and was selected as Best Anthology in Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll 2016 — is now available in audio format; you can pick it up here: http://a.co/hP5G4l5
IF YOU ARE A REVIEWER, WE HAVE CODES AVAILABLE! Please reach out to me through my Contact Page.
With a Foreword by writer Rob Watts, Read the rest of this entry