Metapost: Audio Readings

Can I confess something? I google myself.

It happens. I’m not proud of it. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have found these readings of some of my older stories.

Youtube users MrCreepyPasta and ZoomingDakota have posted audio versions of two of my older stories, Fog and Chiasma. And they’re both pretty damned awesome.

Videos after the break…

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Metapost: On Genre and Storytelling

I warned you I’d start doing this more. Proceed at your own risk.

Over on my twitter feed, I got a little excited about the Lev Grossman article in response to Arthur Krystal’s article in the New Yorker (unlinked, as you have to pay to read) about genre fiction and traditional literary fiction. I debated putting those terms in quotations.

Before I even finished the article, I had to google one of the books in the lead image that I hadn’t heard of, Zone One, by Colson Whitehead, which led me to this review by Glen Duncan.

It begins:

A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star. It invites forgivable prurience: What is that relationshiplike? Granted the intellectual’s hit hanky-panky pay dirt, but what’s in it for the porn star? Conversation? Ideas? Deconstruction?

So, genre fiction: pornography, literary fiction: intellectualism. Got it. Then I read this part:

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First Souls

This story first appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE Summer 2016 issue, and I discussed its genesis on the Other Stories podcast.

 

The waitress brings us our coffee, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes me with that stare that locked us together only an hour ago. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed outside my office building.

“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own, but with an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city, perhaps another country. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”

I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.

“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”

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Metapost: On Pseudonymity, Publishing Updates, & More Metaposts

Hello all,

I had a good weekend for writing, finding the time to work out a new short piece, First Souls, (that I will be posting within the next day), and getting some good solid editing on some other work. Runner B stopped mid stride in the last couple weeks, as I’ve found little time to work on it from home. I’m currently on paternity leave, so my time to write is dictated by the nap schedule of a capricious id that cares little for quiet, uninterrupted working time.

First Souls was something that bubbled up between running and a bout of what I hope was food poisoning last week, and it needed to get on the page. If I didn’t give it a shot at life, it would have eaten away at me while I tried to work on Runner B. I will return to Runner B, but for some reason it’s proving more challenging than I’d thought.

I’m trying to take writing much more seriously now, scheduling out the tasks I need to address, including research of markets, agents, and publishers. Finishing Runner B is next on my task list, followed by final drafts and submissions of two other pieces. No more rejections or acceptance letters have come back in, and I’m about to send queries to some of the more tardy markets to see if I can goose them into a response, if only to free up the pieces for other submissions.

Two other things of note on the publishing front:

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Summer Night

This isn’t a new story, per se, but instead something I wrote up recently for a subreddit while I was waiting for some code to compile. This is, for most intents and purposes, a “true story”. Or rather, that’s what I said when I posted it there. There is one slight fabrication here, a keystone to hold this together as a narrative, as opposed to just a simple scene. But other than that, the rest is as I remember it, with all the unreliability that that implies. Enjoy.

I love horror, and I write scary stories, but I’m a skeptic, a strict rationalist through and through. I am not a believer. There have been, however, a couple of events in my life that I can’t properly explain.

When I was in college, a group of six friends and myself were on college campus, fresh from the disappointment of a failed attempt to score some hash. The college has a large arboretum, that edges a wide slow moving creek. It was a perfect California summer night, hot and muggy punctuated by gentle breaths of cool breeze.

We were walking along a long stretch of path, a wide paved trail with a steep drop into the water on the left, and a steep incline up a hill to the right. We’re talking too steep to go up without using your hands. On the incline to the right, a row of oak trees stood side by side with tall thin streetlights, casting the only light around, as it was a new moon. Ahead, we could see two hundred meters of trail, wide pools of orange light broken up by the deep black shadows under the limbs of the oak trees. But the path was flat and straight, so although the areas beneath the trees were inky dark, you could see there was no one else ahead of us on the path. The only sound was the gentle breeze and the frogs and insects in the creek.

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Metapost: The Case of the Disappearing Drafts

As I submit polished stories for publishing, I’ll be removing the corresponding scraps of the rough drafts that were posted here. Many markets consider any online postings as prior publications, and although the final drafts I am submitting are usually quite changed from the rough drafts you’ve read here, I want to make sure there is no room for confusion.

If the pieces are rejected from enough venues, I will likely update the pages to share the final drafts with you. What this means is that some stories will be unavailable while their polished counterparts are in submission, and potentially forever if they are accepted, in which case, you will not be able to get me to shut up about it.

If you’d like to read a draft that is no longer available, please email me and I will be happy to discuss.

Metapost: New Site Feedback

This is a temporary post to solicit feedback on the new site before I switch over entirely and to test the Facebook and Twitter linking. It’s very similar to the old layout, albeit with a sexier URL, but I please let me know if there is anything you’d like to see or have changed before the switch. Just comment here to let me know, and thank you in advance.

I’d also love to crosslink to your personal site if appropriately themed, just send me your address and let me know. I’m trying to find ways to promote and evangelize this new address, and I’m afraid I really don’t know how to do that…

Thank you for following me here.

Metapost: A Gentle Entreaty

For those of you that have been around a while: I’ve been away. It’s easy to stop working hard on a thing you love when you let it be a lesser priority. It’s my fault, and I lost a year for it. My sincere thanks to people who emailed, poked, and prodded during the absence. Without you, I’d probably have stayed gone.

So now that I’m back, and you’re still here, let me ask one more favor of you: Be brutal. I want to hear what you think, I want to discuss these stories. But I want you be savage, and honest, and hold nothing back. Knives out. Teeth bared.

Today, my wife read and did a cursory editing pass on Dogs in the Drywall. When I asked her what she thought, she replied: “Not your best,” and when I pressed, she admitted she hated it, and she told me why, quite eloquently. And for the most part, she was right.

I need that critical eye. I’m posting these pieces in their rough forms almost as soon as I finish them, not because I want to hear you tell me you like it, but because I want to know what’s wrong with it. What’s almost there, and what will never get there and what needs to be trimmed away. I want you to ask me what the fuck I was thinking, because If I can’t just justify it, then its not worth saving. I’m thick skinned, I promise. I’m starting to think I might be a good writer, but I want to get better.

Okay, I lied. Of course I want to hear if you liked it. I especially want to hear if it scared you, got under your skin, or provoked some other emotional response. That’s useful too. But only if it’s the truth. I trust you. You’ve got good taste.

Metapost: Ultrashorts

Hello, all. I’m trying to work on being more economical with my words, so I’ve given myself a homework assignment. I’m writing a series of ultrashorts, 140 characters or less, on Twitter, of course. They’re not likely to be good, but the challenge is rewarding.

Try it with me, I’d love to see your short stories, and I’ll post some here.

“When it returned the 3rd night, it no longer seemed content to shriek and stare through empty sockets. It wanted something. Something alive.”

“When the sun failed to come up one autumn morning, we burned coal, wood, and our money. By winter, we were burning each other.”

“When the fire died down, and the wreckage of the crash could be sifted through, nothing made sense, least of all the dozen extra skulls.”

“We shared our last breath, back and forth, until it burned our lungs. The rising pressure of the black water played a steady funeral rhythm.”

“A silhouette projected on the blinds by streetlight frosts my heart. It is only the outline of a man. Yet this is my third floor window.”


“She looked at me with those eyes, those bloodshot eyes, and I knew this was no longer the woman I loved. She was dead to me.” – Chris Vaughn, of Terror Tortellini

“The breathing was all we heard. But when it ceased there was nothing I wanted to hear more. Until it was right behind me.” – Cameron Bell, @XxCanNibalCamxX

“I never went into her bedroom again, but made a ritual in the hall of laying down newspapers wherever she had trickled out under the door.” – Andrew

(if you object to me posting your shorts here, drop me an email, and I’ll remove them) 

All work is wholly owned by the listed creators.

East

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Storm.

It’s always been there, behind us, whispering through the shuddering ground. A background roar behind the wind. We’d been ahead for so long, moving slightly faster than its clockwork crawl. Until the mountains. Then, as we ground ourselves upward against these slopes, we heard it rumbling closer, a rising quake in the earth. But it’s been a while since I turned around and actually saw it. Sitting here on the side of the mountain, in the frigid morning, it fills my vision and stings my eyes with the monstrous unreality of it.

It rises like an unbroken wall into the sky, obscured only by the limits of my sight, fading into the clear blue, and stretching away north and south, curving away with the earth. The sunlight doesn’t seem to touch it. Nothing does. At the ground, where the churning wall of sickly blue lightning and black clouds grinds across the earth, I can see the Unmaking. The lower peaks, already shaking apart, burst and ablate away at the event horizon of the Storm. The land dips before the onslaught, as if shying away from the kiss of the boiling wall. I can feel the violence beneath my feet as millions of tons of ancient mountain falls away into its infinite maw.

It’s going to be on me in a few hours. I wonder if I’ll die when the peak caves away, crushed in a free-fall of slate and stone, or whether I’ll be alive when the Storm touches me, shredded and atomized, erased and Unmade. I wonder, again, what it might feel like.

Continue reading “East”