Sunday…

A nice quiet morning in the Dungeon today, sipping coffee and updating the web site.

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I’ve reviewed and approved the edits for “Tumor”, which will be making its debut in Gathering Storm Magazine, Issue 9 soon, my guess being September, which is also when “Test Case” will appear in the Trembling With Fear column on The Horror Tree.

“Trappe’s Rest” will be appearing in EconoClash Review number 2 sometime very soon now, slated to drop in August.

I’ve decided that if “Spirit of the Dead”, my novella set in Carson’s Mill, is not accepted by the publisher in whose hands it currently sits, then I will self publish on Kindle in time for a Halloween release.

Spirit Cover New

I may put it up solo, or might add a couple short stories along to keep it company. Not sure yet, but I do have a little time between now and then to make a final decision and prep the files for upload.

The last couple weeks have been productive, adding three new short stories to the lineup, so things are progressing nicely. I have to discipline myself better to allocate time and get some work done on the novel. I’ve been lax in that regard, perhaps some time on the Rack might help improve my behavior?

We’ll have to see.

Sleep well…

Just a walk in the park…

Just finished a new story titled “The Man in the Park” in which our main character Tom is taking his daily walk through the city park and meets a stranger…

He was a husky fellow, a perfect model for the grandfather role in a Norman Rockwell painting. He wore a short sleeved white shirt, with his eyeglass case and a sharpened pencil pointing up in the pocket, presumably for the crossword puzzle.

They sit on the same bench, Tom needing a rest and the stranger reading his newspaper, and chat a bit, as people sometimes do.  Things turn a little strange soon enough, however…

“You seem to read people pretty well.”

“Something you learn to do over time, Tom.”

“I thought you looked familiar when I first saw you. I apologize though, I can’t recall where I know you from.”

“We’ve never met, no need to apologize.”

“How did you know my name then?”

“It’s my business to know people.”

I glanced at his newspaper then, and instead of the usual columns of stories and advertisements, it seemed to be comprised entirely of lists, some in foreign texts that I couldn’t read, unlike any paper I’d ever seen before.

“Who are you?” I asked, more intrigued than uneasy.

“I’ve gone by many names over the years. Call me Joe, if a name eases your mind.”

Tom is about to experience something that only occurs once in a lifetime, he just doesn’t know it yet…

This is another of my stories that would be a good fit for the old Twilight Zone…is that time machine ready for a test yet? Just drop me off in front of Rod Serling’s office, if you don’t mind.

man park

Sleep well…

With Thanks…

In today’s Trembling With Fear column on The Horror Tree, Steph Ellis made two comments that helped bring me out of a four day funk.

I’d been very hopeful about my submission to Cemetery Dance magazine, but received a rejection a couple days ago. That was a market I really wanted to break through in hopes one of my tales might actually be read by Stephen King.

That’s been a big goal since the first word landed on the first page, you see…

Steph also got rejected by them, and she is a very talented writer. She takes it in stride, which is how I generally deal with rejections when they come. Seeing her column helped me take the personal aspect out of it, and just consider it business as usual, like I do with all the others.

She also has some kind words about the site, as she is visiting a number of sites in preparation for building one for herself.

So, thank you Steph Ellis, for putting things in proper perspective and in so doing, dropping that ladder into the grave so I can climb back up and out!

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Sleep well…

Stuff…

A few items of interest over the last few days…on July 14, I’d posted this:

Saturday morning, the house quiet. I sit in the recliner with my laptop and the dog is curled up sleeping on the couch. A hot cup of coffee sits on the small end table to my right and the pleasure of a slow and easy waking is in progress.

Just sent off “Tumor” to Gathering Storm Magazine, encouraged by their aim to try and respond within 15 days. I wish all publishers would adhere to a shorter turnaround time in their responses. Yes, they’re busy people, yes they have lives and other obligations beyond reading, I get it.

Well, they were true to their word, and I had a response on July 27, letting me know I’d moved to Phase 3 for a final decision, and then on Sunday, July 29, another message telling me that “Tumor” had been accepted for Gathering Storm Magazine #9.

What a pleasure – not just the acceptance, which is always a rush, but also the speed with which the whole process took place.

Nice! Much appreciated, especially in contrast to the months of waiting that generally follow a submission! Thank you Gathering Storm!

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Also over the weekend, I decided to get a solid handle on formatting a manuscript for print publication, and that worked out very well. A good learning experience, and a good looking final as well. I liked it so much, I dragged it into Scrivener, and compiled it as a Kindle book.

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As the title implies, “Thirteen” consists of 13 stories, mostly newer works, including “The Man in the Cloud”, written this past weekend after our vacation. I think the ones I chose work well together.

Lastly, I also formatted “Spirit of the Dead”, my novella, and updated the cover design. That’s been out for submission since April, and if it’s not chosen by the publisher, I’m going to self publish and learn that process next. I’d like to see that on the shelf in time for Halloween.

Speaking of horror, it’s time to get ready to go to work.

Sleep well…

Back at it…

A week off, wandering through northern New Hampshire and a side trip to Montreal, was absolutely relaxing and invigorating… and now, back to it!

I took a quick grab shot with the phone camera through our room window at the clouds dropping down onto the mountains:

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We got to experience this phenomenon as we drove through the national forest, rising to an elevation of nearly two thousand feet, literally driving into and through a low cloud on the mountain.

I coupled that idea with our experience waiting to check out at a local grocery behind a horribly conceited woman, added a mysterious hermit, and am currently working on a new story, tentatively titled “A Man in the Cloud”, a tale where Karma plays an important part.

When we returned home yesterday, I found a delightful message waiting for me in email too…

Thank you again for sending us “Tumor”. To make sure that every author and artist remains “in the loop” and not wondering if their submission got lost, we strive to keep you constantly updated when your piece makes movement with our staff, either forward in the publication process or if we decided to pass on it at any time. We are authors too, so we understand what its like to not hear from a publication. 

Your submission has PASSED our SECOND ROUND of reading and is moving to Phase 3. 

The third review (Phase 3) is conducted under a microscope. We are looking for the best of the best out of all the submissions related to the particular theme. We are also sitting around a table discussing, begging, debating, arguing, bribing, and downright fighting for our favorite pieces. Due to budgetary restraints, some submissions in Phase 3 will still get the axe but are held very closely to our hearts. 

Lastly, if you’ve made it past Phase 3, you will get a personal notification from one of our Editors-in-Chief, declaring a National Holiday in your favor because you made it to publication. The only thing preventing this success from happening is if you had it published elsewhere in the time it took us to make a decision, if you failed to sign the contract, if we don’t mutually agree on the edits/revisions, or if you simply don’t respond to our emails. 

So, after hundreds of submissions, you are moving forward, just bear with us. We do post a lot of hints on our social media of what to expect in upcoming issues. Make sure you follow/like us on Facebook to keep up, because more than likely, we will be mentioning your submission at some point. 

Stay tuned! 

Michael & Cinda, Editors-in-Chief

“Tumor” is a rather nasty tale about an ambulance rushing a patient to a hospital, unwittingly opening a portal to Hell.

Good stuff indeed!

So, website update will occur this weekend, along with work on the new story to continue, and August just around the corner, bringing with it the release of EconoClash Review #2, which will include my tale, “Trappe’s Rest”.

Back at it!

Sleep well…

The Bookmobile From Hell…

It seems the Muse was sleeping today… or, maybe spending a day at the beach? In any case, I decided to try something new today instead of sitting in front of the TV, letting my brain dissolve into a fetid pool of sludge.

I created a new app comprised of all 43 short stories I’ve done so far.

Yeah, 43.

Needless to say, all that content adds up to over 51 megs, but…it is cool having my entire collection literally in my pocket! I went with an antique card catalog motif for the design, and I like it!

Bookmobile

The composite photo is actually 5 screen captures from my phone, lined up together in Photoshop. Each story resides in its own “drawer”, and there is a menu that pops out from the side for those who want short cuts. Me, I like scrolling the drawers!

and then phone

Here’s a detail of one of the drawers for the stories. I went with the font that looks like a typewriter with a ribbon on the way out to add to the vintage vibe.

Sorry, but this won’t be a public release, as I do hope to sell some of these stories to publishers! I want to have it on my phone for convenience, and possibly a sample for someone to read on the fly, and it was a fun exercise to put it together.

Tell you what… I have 10 or 11 stories out as we speak, at publishers like Gehenna & Hinnom, Cemetery Dance, and Amazing Stories, among others.

Let’s see how many acceptances I get, and then we’ll discuss releasing some of these stories, OK? Watch here and on the site for updates, and as always…

Sleep well…

Ah, the weekend has arrived…

Saturday morning, the house quiet. I sit in the recliner with my laptop and the dog is curled up sleeping on the couch. A hot cup of coffee sits on the small end table to my right and the pleasure of a slow and easy waking is in progress.

Just sent off “Tumor” to Gathering Storm Magazine, encouraged by their aim to try and respond within 15 days. I wish all publishers would adhere to a shorter turnaround time in their responses. Yes, they’re busy people, yes they have lives and other obligations beyond reading, I get it.

But…so do we.

We have our own lives, filled with obligations both professional and personal, and yet we eke out time to write, edit, revise, reedit and meet the criteria for the publication to whom we’re submitting. We track these submissions, insuring we follow the guidelines carefully. If simultaneous submissions are not accepted, we cannot send the story elsewhere until we’ve received a verdict, which sometimes takes many months.

Frustrating as hell.

Maybe a submission should have an expiration date, mush like the food we purchase at a grocery. Instead of “Use By” or “Best By”, we could state “This submission expires on xx/xx/xxxx, at which time it is withdrawn and will be offered elsewhere.”

I like that idea. I like it a lot.

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Sleep well…

 

Ink’s almost dry…

Just finished a third? edit on a new story, and I really like the way it’s developed along the way.

We meet Shari, a waitress who’s had her share of hard knocks, and is dreading the drive home because she’s working nights at the diner…

Nights.

Shari hated working nights.

Sure, the tips were better, and the crowd wasn’t usually a problem at all, mostly couples and families, but she hated the drive back home.

In the dark. On that road.

Shari liked to tell customers that her ‘twig in the sticks’ was exactly 71.5 miles away from the diner, but 40 of those miles were along what locals called the “Suicide Stretch” of state road 237.

Those 40 miles consisted of two narrow, winding lanes that were carved through the foothills, leaving drivers little room to maneuver if something went wrong, which occurred too often for comfort. That stretch always caused her to tense up, typically leaving her with a stiff neck and headache by the time she got home.

That there were no lights through that stretch made it even worse, at least for her, and cell coverage was sporadic at best, with the high foothills on either side.

Yeah, Shari was not fond of the Suicide Stretch at all, but we do what we need to do in order to keep a roof over our heads, and Shari is no exception.

This night, however, things are different… and it all begins when her cell phone rings on her way back home.

“And Then The Phone Rang”… another tale with a very strong Twilight Zone vibe, added to the collection.

Oh, and yes… for the sharp eyes readers our there, choosing to name the road on which the Suicide Stretch resides “S.R. 237” was indeed a tip of the hat to the man that selected that particular room number in a hotel where a family served as winter caretakers to be where a young boy saw things no child should ever see.

Sleep well…

In the mailbox…

It was a very pleasant surprise to open the mailbox today and find a contributor’s copy of Strange Stories Vol 1, Number 1 waiting for me!

What self respecting fan of EC Comics would pass up a chance to appear in a magazine that looks like this?

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with an accepted story like this?

SStale

I wasn’t born early enough to have had a chance to be in the originals from William Gaines and company, but this feels right to me!

My thanks to David Wilson at Deadlights for the opportunity to appear in his premiere issue!

Back to work… there’s a brand new story to be edited on this laptop…

Sleep well…

Open House

After last week’s coding marathon, the new site is up and running smoothly… I believe I’ve corrected all the typos and fixed all the broken links, at least as far as I know, so I posted the address in my author page at Facebook and also on Twitter to invite people to stop in and take it for a test drive.

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I’ll spend some time today cleaning and tightening the code and do another review for any errors I may have missed, then wait to see what people say.

I did get one very encouraging comment from Carl R. Jennings, a talented author I’ve had the privilege to appear with in a publication:

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Thursday night, after my wife went to bed, I was looking at my phone when a conversation between a bartender and his sole customer popped into my head. I opened a writing app on the phone and wrote as much as I had so far, then saved it and hit the rack. Friday was a slow day at work, so I was able to flesh it out between my customer calls, and then after work, I was able to let the story take me where it wanted to go.

“A Quiet Evening” is the result, and has been added to the roster.

I have to say, it is sooo nice to be writing stories again after the code marathon last weekend!

Hmm, the level of coffee in my mug is dangerously low… must fix that!

Sleep well…