I Bow to No Calendar!

The last of my solstice-adjacent-festival offerings probably should have swapped places with the last one, since it concerns the feast of St. Nicholas. However, since I’m living in North America and not a Christian, it pleases me best to put this most overtly Yuletidy of the three stories past their exclusivity period within sight of the big day itself.

So, gather close to the fire and read about the festive fun that is the dance of the Wilden Klausen.

I once again wonder if I’m wandering close to folk horror without actually entering it. Tricky business.

I will once again plug the story’s original home, Mistletoes and Mayhem, which is available here. Last year I mentioned that the cover was not entirely indicative of the nature of the contents (thus the old saying about judging books), and now I mention it again.

Another Festive Freebie!

Just slightly too late for Sinterklaasje, I’m offering another reprint for your winter’s evening amusement.

Unlike “The Moon Forest”, Without Fear, Favor or Affection is set in the past and requires its characters to labour under seasonal weather.

…it was only just the start of December, and winter had gone on as long as he could remember.

I find myself wondering if this story counts as folk horror– it has many of the elements (even police sergeants!) but I’m not sure if the setting and the lack of jolly small-town pagan ritual exclude it.

Entirely like “The Moon Forest”, the original home of this story, Creatures in Canada: A Darkling Around the World Anthology, is still available for purchase, although only as an e-book.

A final note– if you prefer true crime to fictional horror, having a look at the sort of stuff that went on at Government House in Battleford will fulfill your desires, as long as you accept that a government can commit crimes against people under its rule.

Loose Upon The World

I came to a realization this week– I have some published stories which are out of their exclusivity period. And that means I should share them!

The first of these is from Monsters in Spaaaace, an anthology which I was very pleased to have been included in.

Remember this guy?

The actual book itself is still available here, as well as the all-data version, and while I’m happy to let you read my contribution to it here and for free, I encourage you to seriously think about buying a copy (or two! Christmas looms!). As I mentioned back when it first came out, I get no monetary benefit from any sales, no royalties what ever… except for the notional future opportunity of sending a story to a publisher who was encouraged to remain in business by persistant income.

Enough of my blather– strap in for a trip to The Moon Forest!

Hallowe’en Grapples!

I have been quiet, have I not? The dread scourge of writer’s block entered into alliance with depression (built in) and stress (external, mainly the pandemic) and rendered me somewhat unproductive.

Happily, the most magical time of the year has come to my rescue– it’s Hallowe’en! Spooky scary skeletons, unconcerned with current events! Unspeakable creatures that didn’t seek elected office! So much joy! It has struck (or at least loosened) the shackles from my creative organs, and the first thing I’m doing is giving back with a fresh free story.

I’m going to give some background on the genesis of “The Centennial Legacy” but there’s something of a spoiler involved. So, I’m going to post a large picture of a cat hanging out with some esoteric stuff to act as a spacer. Don’t want the spoiler? Just click that title and get reading.

…although it occurs to me that I should mention that this is something of a fan fiction, taking inspiration and setting from a story by the guy that keeps the fire on under the “Artist is not the Art” pot, H. P. Lovecraft. After the idea came up, I found that the events in his story were set one hundred years ago almost to the week, so it had to be written.

All right. Here we go. CAT!

No description available.

If you’re still with me, I will now reveal that the inspiring story is “The Lurking Fear” and yes, it sort of leans on eugenics for its horror and thus is an excellent example of why sensible fans of Ol’ Providence are a little hesitant to own their fan-ness.

But it’s also a good yarn about really awful monsters which are entirely natural. While H.P. fell back on his usual “indescribable, shapeless, unnameable” and some curtain-dropping faints, these monsters are living creatures of an earthly origin… if you consider the Netherlands part of Earth.

What prompted the story was listening to a weather report about a month ago promising yet more smoke from yet another forest fire. The undisciplined mind wandered a bit, and after touching on “glad I don’t live in a forest” some hidden relays closed and I was presented with a mental picture of the horrors in “The Lurking Fear” suddenly being made to join Bambi and Susanna Moodie in headlong flight from a forest fire.

And then I thought hard about the conclusion of “The Lurking Fear”. The narrator declares that he’s wiped out the thousands of creepy descendants of inbred Dutchmen… but did he really check that hard? What if… let’s say 25 of them avoided the extermination. Taking that, a narrow assumption about what age they start and stop bearing children and a pretty pessimistic view of infant mortality among the Martenses, and plugged them into a handy online calculator.

In a hundred years, you’d have more than seven thousand of the buggers. Yike. That’s plenty of scary.

Before I stop flapping my fingers, I’ll mention that I tried the numbers running from the last date of contact in Lovecraft’s story to the year it was set (1810 to 1921, if you’re wondering) and it turns out that there could have been 10,000 to 15,000 of the damn things down there. Turns out he wasn’t exaggerating the numbers he has his narrator offering.

Am I Shallow?

The answer is “probably,” with a well-rolled R.

Why do I say this? Because I’m about to engage in a small spot of self-promotion:

Why, yes… that is my name on the cover

This delightful compendium has just been put where the public can get at it, over at Cloud Lake Literary’s site, where you can buy it as a single item or subscribe to the journal.

…and if you’re wondering how a genre goofus like me managed to sneak into the walled garden of a literary journal, I will prove my egoism by putting my thumbs in my suspenders and say, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this.”

I will then wait to see if you laugh right in my face or give me a gentle sigh of annoyance. Either is appropriate.

Christmas Bonus!

I am not referring to the famous Roman general Crismus Bonus (northwest Gaul on the border of Goscinny and Uderzo, c. 50BC), but to my latest published work! As I said in the last entry, this appears to be the time of year for me.

The new appearance was actually put under contract about a year ago, and this is probably the truest experience of publishing I’ve yet had. I am, though, a student of patience (having waited so long to start a writing career, I can hardly complain about a space of months between contract and consumation). The wait was definitely worth it.

But enough of my waffling! Please head on over to NewMyths.com, where the freshly manifested issue 53 awaits your reading pleasure. In the Jamesian tradition, it’s a spooky story uttered close to Christmas, but not Christmas themed, called “Palmer’s Folly.” You’ll find it right smack in the middle of the fiction portion of the table of contents, lodged between some other stories to fill the long, cold solstice-proximate nights (northern hemisphere only, locations near and south of the equator may not find conditions as indicated).

For an extra chill, there’s an author profile with a recent picture– chilling. Not even a beard to hide his unspeakable deformity, it having fallen to the razor in deference to sealing a mask more effectively.

An Actual Thing

At the end of the previous post, I mentioned in passing that an anthology I had a story in was now published.

I got my author’s copy in the mail.

The dramatic movie poster-style blue/orange effect was got by taking a picture in my kitchen on an overcast winter day.

Not pictured is me grinning like several fools, me clapping my hands with pure delight, my wife gazing admiringly upon me, or my son’s wait what how can this be a thing?!? expression when I showed him his old dad’s name in an actual book.

Like this:

I’ll mention here that I very much approve of the type-face choices made by the editor. That’s a good looking page, that.

I’m making a big thing of this because it is, in my life, a big thing. I have never had an author’s copy of a print book before. It rates as a big milestone in my writing career, which by the measure of “correctly making an effort to present stories to paying markets” is not very old.

So, I blow my party horn and wave my achievement around for all to see. I also litter this post with links to where you can get the book for yourself. I get no more money out of it, just the warm glow of offering entertainment to others. It is (ignoring my own splendid gem of deathless prose) a bunch of jolly good stories.

…and I got an author’s copy! {dissolves in giggles}

Mouth is Writing Cheques…

October, glorious home of Hallowe’en, dread gateway to Winter’s icy bowels, is about to consume us all.

This is when I’m (almost) actually trying, too.

For some artists, it is also Inktober, a month of drawings. I’m not a graphic artist, as is clearly evident, so this need not affect me. Yep, I can just sit on the sidelines and not worry a bit about Inktober. I enjoy arting, but this is not the arting area I art best at.

But I am also a bit of an idiot.

I should be devoting my efforts to bashing out marketable fictions. I have, as I think I have mentioned once or twice, very little time to devote to my art (say, that does sound pretentious, doesn’t it?) and so I shouldn’t go burning it on silly things.

Except the unsilly life is hardly worth living, so I’m going to do Inktober in my own way. I’m going to write stories. Writing and ink have long association, even if in this particular format there’s not a drop spent.

What inspired me to do this was my favorite place locally for ink (as well as pens and blank journals)  offered a set of prompts, urging local artists to get to work on generating art. I’ve been having some fun on Twitter running up the teeniest flash fictions from one-word prompts, so why not do something similar with this prompt list?

[At this point, you must imagine a brief silence in which some sensible person, were one at hand, would start talking sense]

So, stand by! Either I’m posting a new story here every day– of remarkable brevity and edited hardly at all, but a story all the same– or you can derive some entertainment from watching me tripping over my own big red clown-shoes in failing to do so. I’ll be doing them as posts here, and when the month is done, I’ll digest them into permanent storage in The Back Files. If I don’t pull any serious muscles, perhaps this will become a yearly thing.

Here’s that list of prompts. Stay tuned for stories!

At last, finally.

I’m making a story public today that probably should have appeared when the latest sequel of Halloween was hyping people up. I certainly could have, as I wrote it well ahead of the movie’s release although I respect the original Carpenter film too much to coat-tail on it like that.

The genesis of the story is… murky, as is often the case when the cry comes of “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s probably the result of having thought about, without sufficient space between one and the other, Friday the 13th and Forbidden Planet. The connection between the id’s antics and ’80s slasher films’ featured villains is pretty clear, after all, and from there it’s only a few synapse closures to Last Flight of the Final Girl.

For those who were curious; Patreon patronage would indeed have put this story in front of you before all the rest of the world.

A Swift Kick in the…

This is sort of a story announcement, although at the moment the story remains  in a box which is full of but also entirely devoid of cat fur. It’s a story that will, eventually, become manifest, but in what form and when is a matter as yet uncertain.

It may, and this would be my preference, appear in a print anthology, along with fifteen other stories and (if you can stand the strain!) a poem. This anthology is being put together by Dragon’s Roost Press, and they are running a Kickstarter to underwrite the costs of production.

And this is why I’m posting this; the fate of sixteen stories and a poem rest upon people subscribing to the fund. There’s all sorts of goodies, too, as is common in a Kickstarter offer, so give it a look and see if you can find it in yourself to help collapse the observational wavefront of what promises to be a very entertaining collection of stories.

It’s not just an imformative image, it’s a link!

p.s. The reason I’m making all the fuss about the poem is that poetry is very hard and I think anyone that pursues it with skill is slightly intimidating.