Friday, October 31, 2014

SpooOOky Stories to Read

You might be too old to run a muck in a costume, and are likely serving the next generation of ghoulies their sugar feast, so why not serve yourself a little something? Here are some recommendations that may cause the possible side effects: excessive squirming and cringing, covering of the eyes, heighten sense of paranoia, and enjoyment. Thank your sanity, for these stories have none.

Brimstone and Marmalade by Aaron Corwin - Every young girl wishes she could have a pony, and Mathilde is no different. But in order to prove she can take care of a pony, she must first take care of a little demon pet. A cute, heart-warmingly bizarre tale, one of my very favorites.
  
The Oregon Trail Diary of Willa Porter by Andy Marino - If the Oregon Trail had been mixed with a very heavy dose of acid, this would be the result. Good build-up, creepy imagery, though the ending doesn't quite live up to the potential. Still, a decent read just for the uniqueness in setting.

The Mothers of Voorhisville by Mary Rickert - I did a story analysis of this one, but still worth recommending again. The many perspectives and the slow dissolve of all sense and reason among the mothers, will have you watching out for any strangers driving around in a hearse.

Headache by Julio Cort├ízar - Our narrator(s?) complain of a headache and other side effects while caring for the mancuspias. Things soon go haywire. What or who is going on? Does anyone know?! Psychedelic horror open to many interpretations.    

Imaginary Friendships Aren’t the Easiest to Break by Milo James Fowler - Because the imagination can be a scary thing, but even scarier when it's giving you a neck message.

Another Mouth by Lisa L. Hannett - Maura's husband is in a deep depression after the death of their adopted son, and without his fishing hauls, they have little food for themselves, let alone the strangers that come scratching at their door. A good solid character-driven piece with excellent language, and one of the better horror-endings I've read.

The Black Veil by M. Bennardo - Constant Sterry, a judge who once sentenced women to hang for witchcraft, rides to his final destination. Ill and conflicted, he hopes to find answers--will the Black Veil provide them? Another excellent tale of dread with a, shall I say, veiled ending.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Flash Fiction: A Wizard's Day Journal



Some fun for your Friday (in case it wasn't fun enough already), I have for you "A Wizard's Day Journal" over at Grievous Angel. Free online, so you can check it out whenever.

Every story has a story, or at least a trail of rejections in its wake. Normally I don't post about rejections, but I think this is a special case, because I find it a personal victory that this story got published (with pro-pay, I might add) despite some ass-hat accusing me of ripping off "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from Disney's Fantasia. I would hope anyone with eyes could see it's not a rip-off, but a running joke. Wizards/sorcerers just seem to have a bad handle on brooms.

So here's the comment in its entirety from a slush reader over at Every D@y Fiction. The rejection itself is nearly a year old, and obviously there have been changes made to the story. Emphasis mine because the guy wrote too damn much.

I got some good chuckles out of this (my first time reading). There are a few good threads in this, though none of them really make it all the way through (as we would like to see in a plot for EDF) except the broom. And the problem with the brooms was that I saw it as a direct rip off of "Sorceror's Apprentice", the "Fantasia" broom scene where as brooms are destroyed, they come back in multitudes from the shattered parts. My other main problem here is, I'm afraid, the overall premise: this isn't a Day Planner, it's a journal. The Wizard is writing things down as they happen, not as pre-made appointments (I have never kept a day planner to jot down everything I had already done). Perhaps making this have a he-said she-said vibe where the Wizard tells us the plans for the day in the first half and then writes in his journal that night would work better? In that way, we could see the "before and after", lending even more humor to the "after" segment as things go wrong. Writing in a journal might also work better with this ending, the poor MC sittign in a motel doubting his whole occupation. Technical issue: I wasn't sure what this meant: "...must cash it in later in case it bounces." Wouldn't you want to cash a potentially-bouncing check ASAP so as to go back to the debtor and get your money? How would ashing it later make more certain it doesn't bounce?
-- Joseph Kaufman  

Now this was a rejection to a rewrite request, but EDF has a very odd policy of having completely different people view the rewrite, which I dislike. You have one person offering you suggestions on the first draft, then another person disregards those suggestions made on the second draft, telling you you should've done something else. Frustrating? Yes! See my post about rewrite requests for more on the topic.

On top of that, you got a slush reader who has no concept of etiquette. There's a lot, and I mean A LOT, better ways to convey the idea that the story is too similar to something without accusing the person of ripping off anything. For example, when I was on a forum critiquing another writer's story, I noticed the story had many of he same elements as X-Men: there was violent conflict between humans and mutants, and the main character had diamond-hard skin, like Emma Frost. So I asked the writer if she were a fan of comics, because the story reminded me of X-Men (and to some extent, Spider-Man). Writer said she didn't read comics or watch the films. So despite similarities, it was more coincidence than rip-off.

I did contact the editor at EDF about the rejection, but I didn't specifically point out the rude slush reader, which in hindsight, maybe should have. I just thought the editor, who made the rewrite request in the first place, should see it. Well, she wound up agreeing with the slush readers. She did make an offer that I could, after making major changes, query and resubmit. But if I was going to put that kind of effort into a story (again), I expected more than three measly bucks.

Interestingly enough, I haven't submitted to EDF since then. Probably because my flash stories sell to better paying markets.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back! --and with new story

Yes, another hiatus from me. Was in Ireland for the latter half of September, and finally got the pictures off the phone, so I'll be posting about that soonish. Didn't catch a leprechaun, but did catch a cold on the returning flight, so had been out of it. Better now (yay!)

First off--new story, "Neither Heaven Nor Hell" from Bards and Sages Quarterly. Can grab the October issue here from Smashwords (because they're so much better than Amazon). If you're subscribed to Bards and Sages newsletter, you actually receive the issue for free.

A wee excerpt of the story:

She smirked. The skin around her mouth crinkled, as though it was a mask that didn’t quite fit right. She held out her hand; all she cared about was the coin.

I nodded and handed it over--thick and heavy, one of the old coins. She took the coin, held it up to her eye and... Where did it go? Just vanished! She didn't put it behind her eye, did she?


“Okay,” she said, “you’ve got half an hour. Then we’re back here.”


“Wait--the coin--”
She jerked me off the stool, and the bar whited out.

If you're familiar with Bard and Sages, then you might be thinking: "What? This is 1st-person! B&S doesn't publish 1st-person!" And you'd be correct. Originally the story was written in 3rd-person limited, but that was apparently confusing (I don't believe so, but eh), so the story was switched to 1st-person. If you wanna know what it was like originally, just replace all the "I's" with "he". That's all I did, lol.

Also, first time I get to share TOC space with fellow W1S1er, Milo James Fowler. Yay!

Other news ... "Blade Between Oni and Hare" was accepted by Third Flatiron, second story they've bought from me; first time was in Universe Horribilis anthology. First time Kazuko, my chest-eyed rogue samurai character, will be in the spotlight, and first time I get to be the lead story with cover artwork. How cool is that? The cover is pretty epic as well.


TOC for the Abbreviated Epics anthology (and once again, sharing space with another W1S1er)

Blade Between Oni and Hare by Siobhan Gallagher
HMS Invisible and the Halifax Slaver by Iain Ishbel
Beyond the Turning Orrery by Deborah Walker
Heart-Shaped by Manuel Royal
A Wolf Is Made by Jordan Ashley Moore
Through an Ocular Darkly by Martin Clark
Damfino Plays for Table Stakes by Ben Solomon
The Committee by Margarita Tenser
Rain over Lesser Boso by Gustavo Bondoni
The Perfection of the Steam-Powered Armour by Adria Laycraft
Assault on the Summit by Daniel Coble
Fortunate Son by Steve Coate
Odin on the Tree by Jo Walton
Refusing the Call by Elliotte Rusty Harold
The Blue Cup by Marissa James
Toward the Back by Jake Teeny
The Lost Children by Alison McBain
Great Light's Daughters by Patricia S. Bowne
Qinggong Ji by Stephen D. Rogers
On a Train with a Coyote Ghost by Robin Wyatt Dunn