Along the Splintered Path and A Couple Other Notes

Good morning, afternoon, evening, Friday to you all where ever you may be. Today is December 30th of the year 2011. Just two days left before we ring in 2012. Hopefully the New Year will bring joy and happiness and peace to us all.

Okay, I’m done with the sappiness…

I have good news and hopefully you all will like it.

Two things happen at the beginning of this year. First, my story, In the Shadows They Hide will appear in the anthology Night Terrors II, put out by Blood Bound Books.

The second one—and this is the one I’ve been chomping at the bits for: Dark Continents Publishing will release a three story collection of mine titled Along the Splintered Path on Monday, January 2nd. It is part of an e-book launch titled Tales of Darkness and Dismay. There are ten books in this launch and I’m glad that one of them is mine.

My little collection includes the reworked version of The Woodshed (which originally came out in 2008 in the anthology Dark Distortions put out by the now defunct Scotopia Press). This version is better, reworked half a dozen times since then. If you’ve never read The Woodshed, well, you’re in for a treat.

’Round These Bones, another older tale that was originally quite flat in it’s story telling and around 2300 words has been reworked and tops out at near 10K words now, is also in this collection.

Finally, but certainly not the least of these three stories, is Phillip’s Story, about a homeless man who comes into some money that, literally, falls from the sky. Ahh… but there is more to Phillip’s Story than that. It is two stories intertwined, two destinies colliding in time. Of the three stories, this is my favorite.

At the end of this is the cover, but before I post it, I wanted to say a little thanks to some folks who helped get this collection ready for submission:

Neil Buchanan
Kevin Wallis
Gay Degani
Lucas Pederson

And a very special thanks to my friend, Paula Ray, who helped me with my bio and the collection’s title.

Also, I’d like to thank Dark Continents Publishing for the opportunity to put this out. Several times in 2011 I had collections fall through and I got really frustrated… even thought about not writing for a while. My wife talked me out of that. Thank you, Cate. (Most of you know my wife as Catherine, but she prefers Cate…)

Now, here’s one thing I need to say for certain: I’m not an avid fan of reading those ‘self help’ books, the ones that tell you the rules and tell you things that really don’t make sense. However, if you are a writer (or a reader) I strongly encourage you to read Stephen King’s On Writing. This is the only book I will ever suggest to any writer to read. It taught me more in the two weeks it took me to read it (I’m a notoriously slow reader) than anything else about telling stories.

Everything I have written since reading this book, including a novel titled, Cory’s Way, is so much better because I read On Writing. You see, King doesn’t give you a bunch of rules and crap. He just tells you the truth about writing and that truth is, well, to tell the truth in your fiction and make the reader fall into the story, make them believe that what you have written is happening.

I’ve often said that in today’s world of writing and publishing, there is not enough ‘alive’ story telling. What I mean is that so many writers these days just tell cut and dry, action oriented stories that have no real life to them. They don’t let their stories breathe. King lets his stories breathe more so than anyone I have ever read (sometimes with a bit too much breathing that borders on hyperventilating). The point is, don’t restrict yourself because you don’t think someone will pick up what you have written. Good stories find a way to get published.

Cory’s Way was originally supposed to be a novel, but I found the task of writing it extremely daunting and decided to turn it into a short story. The story didn’t want to be so short and it grew and grew and grew (and I let it) until it turned into a novel that I am proud of. Hopefully, in the coming year, I can find a home for it, as well…

I’m going to go now, but before I do, here is the cover of Along the Splintered Path. I think it embodies the stories in the collection. I’ll post links to the collection when it comes out. If you purchase it, I appreciate it—more than you will ever know. If not, times are tough, and I understand. I thank you for considering it anyway.

Until next time, I’m A.J. and I’m out…

Along The Splintered Path, Book Cover

[Herbie’s Note: No paths were splintered in the writing of this blog.]

A Note About 2011

A couple weeks ago, I lamented on how 2011 has not been the banner year for me, as far as writing goes. 2010 had been a boon and I thought things were looking up. Then came 2011 and, well, I came back down to earth (in a meteor crashing from outer space kind of way).

In that blog I also mentioned something about things may be changing. I’m here to tell you now that something good is on the way.

We’ll start with a few publications that accepted stories that have either recently came out or will be coming out very soon.

I know… I know… some of these I probably should have mentioned before, but, like I said, it’s felt like a down year so the enthusiasm hasn’t always been there to blog about it.

Shame on me.

Not again, though.

I’m almost positive I did throw a blurb up for this first publication, but just in case:

The Horror Zine picked up a story I co-wrote a couple years ago with Diane Smith (a very talented lady I may add) after entering it in a flash fiction contest that I had no business writing for. Interestingly enough our stories were as similar as they were dissimilar. The story, The Third Edge of Power was submitted by Diane and accepted by Jeani Rector for The Horror Zine. It came out in August and I’m quite proud of the story.

[Side Note: I must add that Diane did most of the work on this after it was written, so I really can’t take much credit for the story finding a home. This was all Diane’s doing and I thank her for pushing on with this one. End Side Note]

Back in October of 2010, Necrotic Tissue picked up my story, Picket Fences for Issue #12. It was the editor’s choice, chosen, I believe, by Daniel Russell. It was my first pro paying story and another reason to believe I was finally on the way up (if only by one rung of the ladder).

Sadly, Necrotic Tissue shut down after Issue #14 (which came out in April, 2011). When I say sadly, I really mean it. NT was my favorite horror publication and I have several of their issues. I wish I had all 14 of them.

There is a good note to this. R. Scott McCoy, the owner of Necrotic Tissue, decided to put out a best of NT earlier this year. It came out in October. My previously mentioned story, Picket Fences is in there, along with some very good writers (Nate Lambert, Cate Gardner, Robert Eccles, Daniel Russell, Greg Hall, Brian Hardin, to name a few).

You can find this collection at Amazon, but I’ll make it easy for you. Just follow the link:

Best of Necrotic Tissue

[Side Note #2: In 2012 I plan to rewrite Picket Fences, detailing more of what the story is about. The original version was an experimental story trying to use what I considered ‘future tense.’ Though I love the story in it’s current state, I want to go down that road again and write it in a more traditional style. It may even end up being a novella or… something longer. End Side Note #2]

In November, A Hacked-up Holiday Massacre came out. This is a Pill Hill Press publication, edited by Shane McKenzie, who has recently left PHP to start his own publishing company: Sinister Grin Press.

As the title suggest, all the stories are based on Holidays. Mine was Mother’s Day and it’s a story titled Remember What I Said About Living Out In the Country?. Yeah, long name, I know. Better than my story appearing in this anthology is that it appears in there with the likes of Jack Ketcham, Joe Lansdale, Bentley Little, Wrath James White, Nate Southard, Kevin Wallis, Steve Lowe, Lee Thompson and others. I was thoroughly honored to get into this publication.

Again, I’m going to make this easy for you. If you want to check it out, you can follow either the above referenced link to Pill Hill Press and check out their bookshop or you can follow the following link to the Amazon page where it can be purchased as well:

A Hacked-up Holiday Massacre

Just recently, my short story, Skipping Stones was published by Dark Moon Books in an anthology titled Frightmares, A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror and edited by Stan Swanson. All the stories (and there’s a LOT of them totaling a whopping 129) are less than 500 words in length.

Skipping Stones is a reworked story after having let it sit and stew for a couple years. In it’s original form, it was less than 200 words.

You can check out Dark Moon Books from the link above and you can check out the Amazon page by following this link: Frightmares, A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror

[Side Note #3: This not so banner year looks like it hasn’t turned out so bad after all. End Side Note #3]

Coming soon from Blood Bound Books, my story, In the Shadows They Hide will appear in the anthology Night Terrors II, edited by Marc Ciccarone.

In the Shadows They Hide is one of my favorite stories that I have written. I think the title tells a lot about the story. And you readers, I really think you’ll dig this one. I’ll keep you updated on it when it comes out.

If I haven’t bored you to tears yet, let me throw in a couple of other stories that have come out during the year that I know I’ve plugged, but while I’m at it, I may as well do so again.

Flowers In Her Hair came out in the spring, published by Liquid Imagination, which is edited by Kevin Wallis. The story also has an audio version, read by Bob Eccles, another talented individual with a great radio voice.

You can read or listen to the story here: Flowers In Her Hair

After a couple years and over a dozen tries at finding a home for Summer Jumpers it was finally picked up by The Gloaming earlier this year. This story had been accepted twice previous, but both of the zines folded before the publication dates. It was short-listed half a dozen more times, so it was good to finally give the story a place to be read. Sadly, I can’t seem to link to it because it no longer appears to be on the website.

[Side Note #4: If you would like to read Summer Jumpers as it appeared in The Gloaming, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do for you. End Side Note #4]

One of my favorite stories to write over the last couple years has been a series titled Dredging Up Memories. This series has been so generously put out by the good folks over at Tales of the Zombie Wars. It’s (kind of obviously, given the site name) a zombie tale and follows the trials of a lone man dealing with the world gone to Hell in a hand basket, the loss of family and friends and what he discovers about the zombies… or, rather the people who have turned into them. You can find the first six parts of the ongoing series here: Dredging Up Memories

I’m going to end this blog tonight with a simple thank you to those who have read my work this year or in the last five years or so that I have pursued this dream of being a writer. It’s an up and down roller coaster that would never go up without all of you. For the writer, having no readers is the worst thing that could happen. If I have touched just one person with any of my words of fiction, then I’ve succeeded at being a writer. If you’ve liked one of my stories (or even if you didn’t) thank you for reading.

As the New Year rings in, I have some good news, which I had originally intended to share here, but I seem to have gone on a different path with this blog. So, in order to avoid turning this into a 3000-word piece, check back here in the next day or so.

For now, I’m A.J. and I’m out…