“Patchwork” in Typhon: A Monster Anthology

 

A wtyphonhile back, I took part in a story contest at LitReactor, a literary website that I frequent. The contest required us to produce an original monster and use our hometown as a setting. While my hometown area has always been a source of inspiration for me, “Patchwork” is the first story that I wrote with the geography of Clearfield in my head. That changed a bit in the re-writes leading up to the story’s inclusion in All Manner of Dark Things and the setting changed to that magical Fairfax place that lives in my head. I’ve always been proud of my patchwork monster that steals its bodyparts from its victims. The story that I wrote one afternoon in the corner booth of a busy bar has continued to be one of my favorites.

Now, you can read “Patchwork” in an anthology full of great monsters, inspired by the father of all monsters Typhon, and brought to you by Pantheon Magazine. If you are unfamiliar with Pantheon, they put out a spectacular product, and Typhon is no exception. You can pick up a copy at Amazon or Createspace.

If you use Createspace, be sure to enter coupon code CFAK5JBZ for 15% off.

 

 

2015 Writing Wrap-Up

The writing life is about putting one foot in front of the other. I took a lot of steps in 2015.

Publishing-wise, this was my most successful year, yet. I’ve always built off previous years, but 2015 had a lot of great moments. “The Polka Man” came out in Faed from A Murder of Storytellers. “Mercury Beach” appeared in Yellow Mama, accompanied by an excellent illustration. “A Simple Device” was published in Rejected from ACA Books. “A Burial” was featured as part of the Page and Spine Fiction Showcase. “C Was for Cat” found a home with Body Parts Magazine. “Copy Rights” was printed in a beautiful edition of Sanitarium. “Voids” was posted by the Saturday Night Reader. I even sold another poem. “Crow, Why Do You Cry” appeared in Illumen. I published short stories every month at the Confabulator Cafe. To top it all off, my first solo collection All Manner of Dark Things came out in April and has been pretty well received.  Financially, I made far more writing than I ever had before. Trust me, that’s not saying much. I turned around and invested the money in my writing education, taking classes at LitReactor with some of my favorite writers, such as Benjamin Whitmer, Nicholas Kaufman, Helen Marshall, Jordan Hamessley, and Simon Strantzas.

I got the opportunity do A LOT of panels at ConQuest in Kansas City. Eight panels, plus a reading. I think I moderated five. I was running all weekend and exhausted by the end of it, but it was a great experience. I love talking about books, writing, and the horror genre in particular. I did more panels at the Longview Literary Festival at Metropolitan Community College. I spoke to the Young Writer’s Group at Sumner Academy in Kansas City. They were amazing, and I wish them great success. Who knows where the literary life will take them? I did a signing at the local Hastings and another at the Topeka Public Library’s Great Writers, Right Here author fair.  I even served as a juror for the 2015 Stoker Awards. There were other opportunities for events that I didn’t take advantage of, but I hope that this is just the beginning.

2015 is going to be hard to beat, but I am going to give it a shot. “Assholes with Guns” just came out in The Literary Hatchet. “Blood and Dust” will be out in Theater B from A Murder of Storytellers very soon, and “Patchwork” will be coming out in Typhon: A Monster Anthology from Pantheon Magazine. I am also hoping that both my novella Mama’s Little Boy and my second collection Whispers and Proclamations will be out some time this year. There will surely be other things. There always is. I am planning on being at ConQuest and Longview again. WorldCon will be in Kansas City this year, and I would love to be a part of it. I may even pick up a couple more cons here and there as they fit in to my schedule. There have been discussions about me conducting a couple of writer’s workshops, and my monthly contributions to The Confabulator Cafe will continue.

As I said at the beginning, this profession is about always moving forward. I’m proud of my 2015 steps, but I hope to take many more in 2016. It’s a long journey, but the only way to get where I’m going is to keep writing and see what opportunities present themselves. Thank you for following along in 2015, and I hope you will still be there with me a year from now.

Links to all of this year’s publications can be found by clicking “The Work” in my header menu.  You can pick up a signed copy of All Manner of Dark Things at “The Store” if you prefer to avoid Amazon.

“Assholes with Guns” in The Literary Hatchet #13

lithatchet13cover200My short story “Assholes with Guns” is out in The Literary Hatchet #13.

It’s a story about dangerous men, both young and old. I wrote it in a Noir class taught by Benjamin Whitmer (Cry, Father) that was hosted by LitReactor.com.

The magazine is available now in both a free online PDF and in print. You can pick up a copy here:  http://lizzieandrewborden.com/HatchetOnline/LiteraryHatchet/issues.htm

“A Gift of Flesh” at The Confabulator Cafe

My Christmas horror story “The Gift of Flesh” is now available at The Confabulator Cafe. It’s the story of a man who receives a strange cardboard box on his doorstep, and the madness that ensues. I hope you enjoy it. Have a great holiday season!

The Gift of Flesh

NaNoWriMo Week 2 at The Confabulator Cafe

I’ve been sick for a week, and it has significantly impacted my NaNoWriMo progress. You can read all about it in this weeks NaNoWriMo update at The Confabulator Cafe.

 

NaNoWriMo Week 1 and Illumen Magazine

illumen23National Novel Writing Month is in full swing, and I am working on a new horror novel titled The Dream Catcher. How am I doing? Well, if you head over to The Confabulator Cafe, you can find out for yourself.

A few days ago, I received a copy of the Autumn issue of Illumen, a speculative poetry journal from Alban Lake Publishing that contains my poem “Crow, Why Do You Cry?” You can pick up a copy at Alban Lake’s online store. I don’t write a ton of poetry, but I’ve had success with it, and I’m very proud of the poem.

I had a good time at the Longview Literary Festival a couple of weeks ago. I met some cool people and sold a few books. I hope that everyone enjoys All Manner of Dark Things. Next up will be the Topeka Public Library’s “Great Writers, Right Here,” a book fair full of great local authors on December 12th. I’ll be selling and signing books from 1pm to 4pm in Marvin Auditorium. If you have never been to the event, it is a fantastic opportunity to interact with some great local writers and pick up some fantastic books. Be sure to stop by if you are in the area.

First, I need to kick NaNoWriMo’s ass. I hope to see you all on the other side.

Longview Literary Festival

This Friday, I will be attending the Longview Literary Festival at Metropolitan Community College in Lee’s Summit, MO. It’s a one-day event, and I’ll be speaking on a couple of panels for “Combining History and Fiction” and “Writing in Multiple Genres.” There will also be panels and workshops on self-publishing, character creation, working with small presses, working with an editor, and many more.  All and all, it’s a pretty jam-packed day. The keynote speakers this year are science fiction writer Bryan Thomas Schmidt and romance author Claire Ashgrove. I will have copies of All Manner of Dark Things for sale, as well as the anthologies Faed and Rejected.

It all starts at 10 am on October 23rd at the Cultural Arts Center on the Metropolitan Community College-Longview campus, 500 S.W. Longview Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO.

I really enjoyed the festival last year. Many of the attendees are students at the college. They have a great outlook on the business and art of writing. It’s also free, so the price is right.

Speaking of students, I received a bunch of thank you cards from the writer’s group at Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas. I spoke to their class and had a fantastic time talking to the kids. Their enthusiasm was inspiring, and I would love to go back to do more of a technical workshop and write something with the group. Talking to people about writing always energizes me. Things like Longview and the Young Writers of KC always raise my desire to keep writing to another level.

There are a lot of writers that I only see at things like this. I look forward to seeing a bunch of people that I haven’t seen since ConQuest. I hope to see the rest of you there, as well.

A Return from Vacation and October’s Publishing Schedule

Almost two years ago, Sara and I decided to go on to a writer’s retreat in a haunted mansion in California. Sounds cool, right? We thought so, too. Then the location shut it down out of fear of being known as a haunted house. We were pretty devastated. We’d already sank quite a bit of money in to the trip. We’d already paid for flights and had decided to extend our vacation with a visit to Napa. I had booked the bed and breakfast in Napa months prior to the mansion forcing the cancellation of the writer’s retreat. Rather than mope about it, I found a hotel in Pacifica, CA, and we decided to have a writer’s retreat for two and call it our honeymoon. (We are getting married this weekend.)

Pacifica was gorgeous. The hotel sits on the edge of the Pacific ocean, surrounded by large hills that I consider to be more like small mountains. Hiking trails lead to the peaks, which look out upon the waves crashing upon rocks that look like something One-Eyed Willie would use as clues for the Goonies. Orca whales patrol in the distance while surfers in full wetsuits ride cold ocean waves in to the beach. It was cool the entire time that we were there, and every morning fog rolled in off the ocean, hovering over the town itself. We were in Pacifica for about three days, and it was fantastic. Writing-wise, I made it about ten thousand words in to the revision of my novella Mama’s Little Boy. We also got to visit the Pacific Coast Fog Fest and relax.

Napa was strange. It was the primary draw of the extended part of the trip, but I think we would both say that we enjoyed the isolation of Pacifica a bit more. Napa looks a lot like Kansas. Sure, the crops are different, and there is the occasional palm tree, but it is an agricultural area, full of farmhouses, barns, and cows. Really nice farmhouses and barns. The cows are probably okay, too. I didn’t get that close to any. The interior of Napa was reminiscent of downtown Lawrence, but with more wine. Overall, I think we were both shocked at how familiar it seemed. I wrote a little bit in Napa, taking care of my Halloween-themed Confabulator Cafe story, as well as some edits for an anthology. It might seem odd to be working on a honeymoon, but we are writers. Stephen King always claimed to work every day other than Christmas and his birthday.

Speaking of publications, October is generally a big deal for me, as various magazines release Halloween-themed issues. This year is no exception, as I have several things scheduled for release.

My short story “Voids,” which was written in a Noir class taught by Benjamin Whitmer, is now available at Saturday Night Reader. You will have to have a subscription to read it. $4.00 will get you a month-long subscription.

“Patchwork,” which originally written as part of a contest at LitReactor, will be appearing in Typhon: A Monster Anthology from Pantheon Magazine.

My poem “Crow, Why Do You Cry?” will be in the next issue of Illumen Magazine from Alban Lake Publishing.

“Blood and Dust” will be in Theater B from A Murder of Storytellers.

Wrapping up the end of the month, my haunted house short story “Party at Pinehurst” will be up at The Confabulator Cafe on October 29th.

It should be a fun month. I will post links to all of the publications as they are released. We had a good trip, drank some good wine, hopefully wrote some good words. Now, it is back to the grind. But first, the wedding.

All Manner of Dark Things, 99 Cents on Kindle, This Week

allmannercoverfinalRay Bradbury’s birthday is today. My writing process is essentially borrowed whole from Bradbury. His book Zen in the Art of Writing inspires me every time that I read it.

My son’s birthday is tomorrow. Eight years ago, his birth changed my life, and he continues to inspire me every day.

In honor of them, my book All Manner of Dark Things is on sale as a Kindle Countdown for the next week. Drop by Amazon and pick up your digital copy for 99 cents.

Thanks for reading!

Stay Classy, plus Sanitarium Magazine

No, this isn’t a post full of advice for navigating the stormy waters of social media, although my personal motto has always been “Try not to say stupid shit.” This isn’t a post on the author-reader relationship. See my previous motto for advice on that one. Today, I am going to talk about taking classes.

I love school. I love classes. I get excited about the possibilities provided by a good essay test. They give me a rush. It’s weird, and I can’t explain it, but there it is. Unfortunately, we all have to leave school at some point, whether we are on the four-year, five-year, or fifteen-year plan. If you didn’t go to college, it is the same thing. High school ends, and suddenly there are no classes. They take away the number 2 pencils and bubble sheets that have been our constant companion and say “no more.” There is no one left to fight, Caesar.

It’s a damn shame, and you shouldn’t stand for it.

I’m always looking for something to get me to the next level in my writing. I read all the books, even the ones that I don’t agree with. I peruse the websites. I receive every issue of The Writer and scan them for advice. Recently, I decided to enroll in a couple of classes.

I’ve been a member of the LitReactor website for a few years, now. I’ve participated in the writer’s workshop for much of that time. I highly recommend it, if you write any type of transgressive literature and want like-minded people to read it. Most people find the website through Chuck Palahniuk. It sprung up from the writer’s workshop that was hosted on Palahniuk’s website.  As a result, there area  lot of great essays there from writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Craig Clevenger, Jack Ketchum, and many more.

In addition, they also offer classes. I finally gave in and took two classes. In June, I took a horror class benefiting the Shirley Jackson Awards taught by Helen Marshall, Jordan Hamessley, Nicolas Kaufmann, and Simon Stantzas. In July, I took a class on Noir with Benjamin Whitmer, author of the excellent Cry Father.

Every week had a lecture and an assignment. Students then critiqued each other’s assignments. I could go in to what I learned, but it really comes down to breaking out of your comfort zone.

Everyone has a different process. They use different exercises. They harvest ideas in different ways. Sometimes, you can get in to a rut with your writing, especially when you are still developing your skillset. You need to try new things, and that is a lot easier when you have people telling you what new things to try. There were things I will probably never use again. There were other things that I will add to my toolbox. Most importantly, I shook my process up a bit and ended up with ten short stories in a two month span that are no doubt a bit different than the ones that I would have otherwise produced.

There is another benefit, as well. The writer ego is fragile. This is a rough business. I’ve had a fair number of short stories published, but I’ve made well over 100 submissions in order to accomplish them. My acceptance ratio of right around twenty percent is higher than average, according to Duotrope. So, I get a “no thanks” on eight out of ten submissions. That can grate on a person, especially if you are going to spend months working on a book.

The instructors of these classes are solid, accomplished writers. Their support and praise meant the world to me. Having writers that you admire tell you that you are a great writer–money can’t buy that. Their critiques gave me things that will hopefully turn a few of those no’s in to yes’s. I got reading recommendations, suggestions on things to work on, and just general reaffirmation that I am doing some good stuff.

I came out of the classes feeling good about my writing and feeling justified for the sacrifices that I have made in order to chase that illusive dream. I had a lot of fun in the last couple of months, and I am sure I will find myself in another class at some point.

If  you are feeling stuck in an artistic rut, or you just seem to be trudging through the publishing landscape with no sense of progress, remember that you aren’t the only one trying to find your way through the swamp. Take a class. Find a workshop, Shake things up. At best, you will try things you never would have considered. At worst, you will come out of it with a bunch of stories to send off to those publishers.

On a last note, my short story “Copy Rights” is in the latest issue of Sanitarium Magazine. In the story, a genius slacker invents human cloning technology to get out of his shift at the health insurance call center. You can get a copy from a number of different sellers. Just follow this link.