NEW FICTION – “RED SILK” – HORROR TREE’S TREMBLING WITH FEAR

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READ “Red Silk” HERE!

My newest short story, “Red Silk,” is now available in this week’s edition of The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear series! I’m so grateful to Stuart Conover, Lauren McMenemy & the entire Horror Tree team for selecting my piece. I’m also privileged to share the space with three incredibly gifted authors and their “quick bites,” micro-fiction of exactly 100 words. Don’t forget to check those out while you’re there.

After reading weeks of Trembling With Fear entries, I had a spontaneous burst of inspiration and wrote “Red Silk” in one sitting. (More importantly edited it in like, eight, though.)

Spiders have long terrified me. Even looking at a picture of one can send me into state of panic, and I often see them in my nightmares, too. The internet says dreaming about spiders portends good fortune, but unless you call it lucky to hyperventilate in your sleep like a cracked out sloth, that’s probably bullshit.

But I recently saw a pair of Chilean fire tarantulas in real life. I found myself hypnotized. The legs. The segmented torso. The urticating bristles. It was all so mechanical, but somehow natural, an astonishing result of the universe’s infinite math.

Although the spiders in “Red Silk” aren’t tarantulas, the experience the main character feels is the same.

I’m surprised it took this long to write about them.

New Fiction – “Step on a Crack” – 34 Orchard Magazine

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EDIT 11/10/22: Issue is now live! You can read “Step on a Crack” HERE. Don’t forget to drop a donation if you can. 34 Orchard Magazine does wonderful work.

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I’m tremendously excited to announce my new short story “Step on a Crack” will be available in Issue #6 of 34 Orchard Magazine on November 10th, 2022 (Yeah, that’s less than a month from now!). I’ll update this post once the issue is live.

This one is particularly special to me because I’m a huge fan of 34 Orchard Magazine. Writer and editor Kristi Petersen Schoonover has such a talented eye for curating fiction; every issue is full of stories that are disturbing, evocative, and for a lack of a better word (and at risk of sounding like a stoner), deep. To have my work considered amongst the writers featured there is truly an honor.

Do yourself a favor and check out some back issues. You’ll find some authors you’re familiar with, and some you may not be, but they all have one thing in common: Their stories are damn good.

Issue #6 Promotional Flier:

I wrote the first draft of “Step on a Crack” back in 2019. It was titled “The Play Room,” and the story came from a vivid nightmare I had the night before, specifically the final scene. If you’ve read it, I regret to inform you that’s not the most horrific image I’ve seen in my dreams. Yes, I should seek therapy.

Anyway, it wasn’t very good, and I ultimately shelved it in my “spare parts” folder that I use for–you guessed it–spare parts in future stories.

At the time I was reading, and re-reading, a ton of Cormac McCarthy, and I believe it was All the Pretty Horses that sparked my obsession with Gnosticism as a literary and existential concept. The idea that our physical world is a false world, an appearance rather than actuality, was present from the very first line: “The candle flame and the image of the candle flame…” McCarthy wants you to know that those are two very different things.

So what is the real world? Where is it?

I don’t know, but when I rewrote “The Play Room” as “Step on a Crack” almost three years later, I realized it was a story about someone, traumatized by personal loss, who found that world by disappearing deep within themselves. And what they have to share from that place is true horror.

NEW FICTION – “Untitled” – Writer’s Digest

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READ “UNTITLED” HERE

I first scooped up a copy of Writer’s Digest at the recommendation of Stephen King’s “On Writing” years ago, still a new writer and looking for any resource that could help. That, and I’m a method actor: Playing the part of a writer meant doing shit like reading King and picking up writing magazines.

That’s where I encountered the “Your Story” contest. Flash fiction under 650 words based on a preselected photo prompt. The winner that month wrote a story that resonated with me, and I told myself I’d win one of those things some day.

I’m lying. What I actually told myself was “Your writing is absolute trash compared to this.”

But the origins don’t matter. It doesn’t change this:

Today is the day I won one of those things.

The competition was pretty stiff, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have won. For what it’s worth, I didn’t know I had to provide a story title, either, but I’m not sure what I would have named it even if I did.

I’m mostly just surprised Writer’s Digest selected my super weird (and kind of gory?) story. Really didn’t expect them to go for a piece that features some pretty visceral head trauma.

Anyway, READ “UNTITLED” HERE!

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EDIT (03/10/22):

Story is now officially in print! I still can’t believe I walked into Barnes & Noble and purchased something I wrote. Did I die? Is this Heaven? I don’t know, but if I did, please don’t Photoshop my face into some clouds and put it on Facebook. That’s my literal nightmare.

NEW FICTION – “Clearest Waters”

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Here’s a reason to celebrate: My very first paid publication is now live online. I’m fresh off a 50+ hour work week and half hallucinating, so I’m questioning whether this is real or not, but if my eyes don’t deceive me, you can read my short story “Clearest Waters” HERE.

The submission call asked for a 100 word (exact) short story fitting the theme “Underwater.” As a general hater of arthropods (nothing personal, y’all are just nasty & trifling), I knew what I had to write about.

I’m eternally grateful to Black Hare Press for giving me my first real publication. Their online “Dark Moments” collection is tremendously addicting, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. My story, along with the other monthly tales, will be collected in print in their YEAR THREE anthology, available Jan. 29, 2022.

YEAR THREE: Dark Moments and Patreon by [Black Hare Press, D. Kershaw, Ben Thomas]