The Coffin Hop–The Final Day–and a Short Story

~Sigh~

The end of Coffin Hop 2012 has arrived. I will be putting names in a hat in the next day or two, and my children will choose two of them to win a copy of my collection, Southern Bones. Also, one individual that commented on the Day 6 Coffin Hop post will win a copy of Necrotic Tissue’s Best of Anthology, courtesy of me—oh, and I’m going to sign the book as well since one of my stories appears within its pages.

I hope you enjoyed The Coffin Hop this year—it was a great experience for me. I found some good writers who I will continue to follow.

I leave you all with a Halloween story titled, The Orange Wrapped Ones. It’s something I wrote several years ago, and one of the few Halloween pieces I have in my arsenal.

Thank you for visiting Type AJ Negative, and please do come back in the future. For now, I bid you farewell.

Until we meet again, my friends…

The Orange Wrapped Ones

“I wonder what type of candy we got this year.” Percy held his pillowcase trick-or-treat bag close to his face, peering in at the various goodies, but not seeing much more than shapes that looked like wrapped rocks and pebbles.

“Don’t know, Percy, but I hope I didn’t get none of those horrible chewy things that come in those orange wrappers. You know which ones I mean, right?” Carson didn’t so much as look up from his bag, which, to Percy looked to be twice as full as his own.

“You mean the ones that taste like peanut butter or the ones that taste like caramel?” Percy asked, scrunching his face in thought.

“Caramel?”

Percy set the old tattered pillowcase with the crude drawing of a skull and cross bones in black ink on the top step of the porch. He looked at Carson, and shook his head. “Yeah, you know, the ones with the caramel in the centers.”

“Those are Rolo’s,” Carson said and reached into his bag, pulling out a Snickers bar. “I like them, but I don’t care much for the orange wrapped ones. They stick to your teeth and I hate cleaning my teeth out. I heard that Mary Santeleone lost a fang one year chewing on one of those things. Yah want this?”

“Sure,” Percy said and stretched out one eerily white hand. He took the candy bar, then frowned. “Hey, one ‘em kids bite you or something?” He nodded at the perfect set of indentions on the backside of Carson’s hand—five little teeth marks in a half circle. There was a trace of blood and an ugly blue/black bruise had already formed.

Carson barely glanced at the wound, shrugging it off as if it didn’t matter. “Yeah, this kid didn’t wanna give up his bag, so he tried to take a chunk out of me. I kicked the crap out of ‘em. You should’ve seen the boy’s teeth come outta his mouth.”

Percy’s eyes grew huge in their sockets. “You know the rules—we ain’t supposed to hurt the rug rats—just scare ‘em and take their candy.”

“He wouldn’t give it up,” Carson argued, his brows were creased just above his nose.

“You better hope he doesn’t tell anyone.” An uneasy quiver formed in his stomach. Carson was still young—not like Percy, who took to haunting on Halloween years before.

“He won’t.”

“Did you warn him not to?”

“Something like that.”

“Something like that? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I left him out by the old creek down in Bryar Woods.” Carson had a chocolate bar opened and took a bite from it.

“You killed him?”

Carson shrugged, took another bit of his candy. “I didn’t want him tellin’ anybody I took his candy.”

Percy put his forehead in his hands and shook his head. “You idiot. Ma’s gonna kill you when she finds out.”

“She ain’t gonna find out.”

“Yeah she will. She always finds out.”

Carson glared at Percy, his cold gray eyes cutting through the darkness. “Not if you don’t say nothin’.”

Percy stood, grabbed his bag as he did so. The skull and cross bones shimmered, the black sockets seeming to come alive for a moment before settling back to hollow voids.

“I ain’t gotta say nothin’. She’ll know. She always knows. Just ask Jerry. He’ll tell yah.”

“Jerry?” Carson laughed, tossed the candy wrapper on the ground. “Jerry can’t even talk.”

“Yeah, he can—you just gotta listen to him.” Percy was halfway up the steps. That jittery feeling had been replaced by the heavy weight of dread. He no longer cared about the candy and the Halloween fun they normally had after midnight. No, the only thing Percy wanted was to be as far away from Carson when Ma found out what he had done.

“Really—Jerry can still talk. Even after what Ma did to him?”

“Well, yeah. All of Ma’s children can still speak. Even the ones like Jerry, who ain’t nothin’ more than a sack cloth with a face on it.”

“Hey, do you know what this is?” Carson said. He raised both of his arms, and then folded them just below his chin, his hairy hands touching their opposite shoulders.

“Don’t know.”

“Jerry before he became a pillowcase.” Carson threw his head back, his mouth open and a donkey’s bray of laughter coming from it.

The skull on Percy’s treat bag shimmered again and its eyes flared, red replacing the black holes. One of the crudely drawn bones changed, the one dimension of it becoming two, then three-dimensional. It reached out, tearing free from the well-worn pillowcase. A bony hand extended from its stump, and snagged the front of Carson’s ridiculous vampire outfit—a black tuxedo, red cummerbund, slicked back hair and red bowtie. Surely, Dracula didn’t really dress like that. The hand pulled Carson toward the sack, its jaws opening and closing, snapping angrily. The skull pulled free from the bag, held on by mere threads that seemed to stretch beyond their capacity.

“Let go, Jerry,” Carson yelled and dropped his candy. He grabbed one of the tall flaking white and red painted pillars of the porch and held on tightly. His fingers grew white beneath the sparse hairs on top of them, his nails scraped across it as Jerry continued to pull, leaving deep grooves in the wood. “Get him off of me. Get him off of me.”

Jerry growled and pulled at the arm of Carson’s costume, his skeletal fingers slicing through the coat of the tuxedo. Carson pulled, his hands slipping, until the cloth tore free and he was suddenly pushed forward. He smacked his head on the column and lost his grip. Then he fell onto the porch and rolled into the dead azaleas that lined one side of the steps. Jerry howled as the pillowcase absorbed him, pulling him back to his abstract ink existence. The skull shimmered and then was still again.

“Has he lost his mind?” Carson snapped and scrambled to get himself free of the plants. He looked at the backside of his black pants and poked his finger into a hole. “Look what he went and did. He tore my new pants.”

“You shouldn’t pick at him, yah dimwit,” Percy said and rubbed Jerry’s skull, before starting for the door.

“Where are you going?” Carson asked and picked up his bag of candy.

“Inside—it’s almost midnight and Ma don’t like us out past the witching hour.”

Carson ran up the steps and grabbed Percy’s arm. “Why are you so afraid of Ma, anyway?”

“Because I’m not stupid.”

“Not stupid? Come on, Percy. If we joined together we could get rid of Ma, and then we would own All Hallows Eve. We could do whatever we wanted to. Those kids out there wouldn’t stand a chance against us then.”

“You haven’t been here that long, Carson. In case you’ve forgotten, you’re one of the new children, recreated only a couple years ago. Ma ain’t gonna be too happy with you as it is, and I don’t wanna be around when she finds out what you went and done. And missing curfew on top of it—you’re just asking for trouble.”

“Ma’s just a bag of bones that knows a bit of that black magic. That’s all she is. When yah figure that out, Percy, yah can stop being afraid of her and stand up to her.”

Percy laughed—a nervous sound that made that heavy weight of dread jiggle in his stomach. He glanced up at the half moon hanging in the sky. If he didn’t know better he would have sworn it was staring at them, one accusing eye focused on Carson while the other one hid from sight. Inside the old house Ma’s Grandfather clock chimed its mournful melody before tolling the midnight hour.

“We need to get inside,” Percy said, opened the door and stepped inside. As he stepped over the threshold, yellow and green sparks jitterbugged along the floor and the doorjamb and his hair stood on ends. He looked back at Carson, who stood on the edge of the porch, treat bag in hand and a defiant scowl upon his face.

The bell tolled on and Percy counted each one. Sweat beaded on his forehead despite the cool night air.

“Come on, Carson, get inside before the clock stops.”

“I ain’t doing nothing.” Carson snapped and crossed his arms. The heavy pillowcase, bumped against one hip, the candy wrappers rubbing together momentarily.

The clock tolled twelve, the echo ringing through the house. Percy held his breath, his mouth went dry. Several seconds passed and nothing happened. Carson glared upward and laughed loud into the night.

“Told yah nothing would happen.”

Percy shook his head again and looked past Carson. He could hear the faint sound of bones rattling together and dripping water, but could see nothing.

Carson turned and stared into the darkness.

“What’s that?” he asked and turned back to Percy.

“It’s Ma.”

“No it’s not,” Carson snapped. “Ma never leaves the house.”

Percy chuckled. If only Carson had known, “Ma ain’t never lived here.”

“What?” His head whipped back toward Percy. “What do you mean, she ain’t never lived here?’

“She looks after the dead, Carson. Not the living. She lives in the cemeteries. Or wherever someone has died.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Where’d yah leave that little boy?”

“I done told yah—by the creek.”

“Yah hear that dripping water?”

“What about it?”

“That’s how she knows yah killed that boy.”

“I still don’t get it—how would she know?”

“I told you—she looks after the dead, Carson.”

“Are you saying Ma’s dead?”

“We all are—that’s why we stay in the house—it’s our graveyard, yah dimwit.. I told yah that before. Yah just didn’t listen. We’re only allowed out once a year—on Halloween. Halloween’s over and you’re not inside. Ma ain’t gonna be too happy with you.”

Carson looked back toward the darkness, his eyes wide. He turned and darted for the door but when he reached the opening he crashed into… into… nothing. There was a tinge of electricity and those green and blue sparks, but there was no crossing over. His face and body and hands struck an invisible barrier and bounced back, sending him to the floor. His bag dropped from his hand and the candy spilled onto the wooden porch. Carson stood and went for the entrance again, but was met with the same resistance.

Percy’s eyes caught the orange colored wrapper of one of the candies skittering across the floor, but his attention was quickly torn away by Carson trying to ram himself through the doorway.

“What’s going on?” Carson asked, his voice full with panic. “Why can’t I get in?”

“It’s after midnight, yah dimwit. I tried to tell yah.”

“Carson?” The female voice was ragged and it echoed in the night air.

Carson and Percy both looked toward the trees. Ma came from out of the darkness, her bony body almost transparent through the grayed skin. Her hair hung down in wet strands; dirt and grass clotted in several places along her ribs; skin hung off of her nude figure and Percy could see one nearly gone breast, despite the small dead boy she held in her arms. The child’s face was purple and black and red; one arm dangled down at an odd angle, a bone poking through the skin at the crook of the elbow. A chunk of flesh was missing from the boy’s neck and his mouth was frozen in a bloodied grimace that held no teeth. And his eyes held that faraway stare that only the dead have.

“Carson, what have you done?” Ma asked, her milky white eyes staring at him.

“I didn’t do anything, Ma. Honest, I didn’t.”

“You killed this boy.”

“I didn’t do that—honest I didn’t.”

Ma stepped into the gleaming light of the half moon and set the boy on the grass. She stood straight, and at that moment, Percy wished the dead child were still in her arms, hiding her hideously thin, decaying form. Without thinking a hand went to his mouth, covering the O it had formed.

“Carson, we do not kill children,” Ma said and approached him, her steps awkward as if she was teetering on the edge of collapsing. Droplets of water soaked into the dirt, leaving muddy footprints behind.

“Why do you think I killed him? Percy might’ve done it.”

Percy’s head jerked in Carson’s direction, his mouth hung open in shock. “I didn’t do–”

Ma raised a hand to Percy and he fell silent. His eyes dropped to the porch, toward the candy in the orange wrapper.

“The dead speak, Carson, and the boy told me you were the one.”

“He lied,” Carson yelled and tried to back away.

“You lied,” Ma said and raised one blackened-nailed hand toward Carson.

Then she spoke words into the air quickly, a spell that tore through the night like lightning and rumbled the earth like Thunder.

Carson dropped to the ground, his hands holding tight to his stomach. His body twisted, his legs pulling back, as did his head. A scream tore from him. It was unlike anything Percy had ever heard—even Jerry didn’t sound as pained. Carson’s vampire costume ripped apart, and was replaced by old jeans and a bloodied t-shirt. His thick skin split and his hair fell out in clumps; his skin grayed.

Carson rolled onto his stomach and tried to stand, but could only manage a feeble lunge toward Ma.

And the spirits came, their gray forms dashing about, leaving streaks of white in their wake. They grabbed at Carson’s decaying form, and pulled the limbs from his torso and bit out chunks of his flesh. They pulled and tugged at his skin, hair and organs until all that remained were a pair of arm bones and his skull, both eyes lulling in their sockets. One of the Spirits lifted the skull to its face. It inhaled sharply, sucking Carson’s soul into itself. Then it tossed the skull back to the ground.

The spirits turned to the dead Ma had found, encircling him. The one that had picked up Carson’s soul hovered of the boy’s body, its mouth to the boy’s mouth. The blooms of red, black and blue that had been put there by Carson faded. The broken arm was mended, the torn flesh stitched back together. After they were finished, the Spirits disappeared into the night, their wails like the wind rustling through the trees.

The child stirred, blinked several times before opening his eyes. Percy thought he might be scared—Heaven knows he was when he woke up from death. The world looked different, the black of night not so dark or scary. There was no pain. There was plenty of fear, but not because of waking up. No, it was because the memories remained, the way he had been beaten and stabbed and stowed beneath a house with the bodies of several other little boys. Percy shivered as a cold finger traced itself along his spine. It had been so long ago, but still felt like just minutes had passed.

The boy stood, his body slightly deformed. The wounds Carson had inflicted on him were scars that would be there forever—or at least until the boy did something stupid the way Carson had. He was taller and his body was bigger; there was hair on his face and his clothes were rags that fell off as he stood. The boy looked to Ma and took several steps backward.

“Good morning, Child,” Ma said. “Your name is Robbie, and that is your older brother.” She pointed at Percy. “Run along inside, now, and Percy will tell you how we do things around here.”

The boy turned to Percy and started up the stairs without question.

Ma turned and went back the way she came, her feet dragging, leaving wet footprints behind. “Yah take good care of my baby, Percy,” she called out.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Can I come in?” Robbie asked when he reached the door.

Percy nodded. “Sure, but can yah do something for me, first?”

“Yeah.”

“Yah see that piece of candy on the floor there? The one in the orange wrapper?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Can yah get it for me?”

Robbie bent down and picked up the candy. He stepped through the door—there were no sparks of any color this time—and put it in Percy’s hand. Percy looked at it for a moment. It said Mary Jane on the wrapper. He opened it, and stared at the light brown piece of sweet.

“Man, I hate these things,” he said and tossed it back outside.

“What is it?” Robbie asked.

“The nastiest piece of candy ever,” Percy said and reached into his bag. He pulled out a Milky Way bar and handed it to his new little brother. “This is good eatin’ here.”

As they walked away, the door closed slowly behind them.

The Coffin Hop Day Six

I apologize to the handful of folks who have been following Type AJ Negative during The Coffin Hop. Today was a busy, busy day and I haven’t had the time to get a post together. So, now I sit and I write and I try to make this up to you all.

I thought about posting the three part series that I posted last Halloween, based on the true story of a friend’s death seventeen years ago. Then I thought, ‘Hey, A.J., some people have already read this story, so they may not want to read it again.’ So, I needed something else.

And that something else is:

Horror.

Why not? It’s The Coffin Hop and we are celebrating the horror genre with our posts. But wait, this is not just about horror, but something else, something I have discussed here on this blog before.

What constitutes horror?

Let me state for the record: my writing is called horror, but not necessarily because there are monsters and demons in everything I write. In all honesty, there are not a ton of them. Sure, there are my zombies in my series Dredging Up Memories (which I shamelessly plug and encourage you to read by following the link). There may be a ghost or two or a demon here or there in my stories, but for the most part, the stories are less supernatural and more, well, natural.

For me, horror is less about the scare and more about the situation. Think about it for a moment or ten: What makes you cringe more? A story about demons and ghosts and zombies and sparkly vampires or a story about a person trapped in a car after an accident and in need of escaping as gas leaks perilously closer to the flame at the front of the vehicle? Okay, maybe that’s not fair. We all know sparkly vampires make us cringe. Answer me this then: which is more horrific? Zombies? Nah. Demons? Nah. Ghosts? Nope. Sparkly vampires? Nuh-uh. A man trapped in a car that is about to go up in flames? Yup.

The events surrounding a car accident can be as simple as a flat tire while driving down the road, the accelerator getting stuck, someone whipping in front of you, a deer running across the street (because clearly that deer didn’t know where the freaking deer crossing signs were). But it’s what happens when those simple things occur. Does the car flip? Does it go so fast that it crashes into the pillar of a bridge? Does the other car slam on its brakes and the vehicle slams into the back of it? Does the deer’s head go through the windshield and the driver gets killed by an antler to the eye?

When I write I don’t do so with a plot in mind. I do so with a ‘hmmm… this is interesting. I wonder what would happen if…

a little girl fell in love with some horses in an open field?
a little girl’s skin was marred by freakish little stars?
a boy saw a ghost outside his window?
a woman berated her husband about his tool shed?
two kids were angered by a trashy addict looking for their caregiver?
a tornado tore through a town not known for having tornadoes?
a girl watched her sister die?
the world ran out of space for its criminals?
a boy was scared by a crazy man on the hill?
a boy seeks for the murderer of the girl he loves?
a man loses his son and begins to hear things?

All of these are the basis of stories in my collection, Southern Bones.

But, really, what constitutes horror?

Back in January of this year, a man committed suicide, but they didn’t find his body for several weeks. After he was found, there was speculation on how he died, if he killed himself or was murdered or if there was a police cover up. There was a story in those events—those horrific events. What about the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child sexual abuse case? I’ve read the transcipt of the indictment—it will turn your stomach? Maybe the various shooting rampages that have taken place with more frequency over the years? Aren’t the events horrific enough to be considered horror?

Like before, I am very interested in what you all think. Leave a comment and… I tell you what I’m going to do. I have an extra copy of The Best of Necrotic Tissue—the last issue of my favorite horror publication—and I’ll give it away to one random commenter on this blog. Make sure and leave an e-mail address so I can get in touch with you. If you don’t want to leave your e-mail address, you can always find me on Facebook (facebook.com/AJBrown36) and you can leave me the address there in a message. Photobucket

Thanks for dropping by on this sixth day of The Coffin Hop. It’s nearing an end and I hope you have enjoyed it thus far. Please, drop by the other blogs and check out some of the giveaways and stories by going here. You won’t be sorry.

I’m out for now.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Hey, R. Scott McCoy…

Soooooo…

I took a break tonight from banging my head against the keyboard. Yes, my head has ten fingers attached to it. It is how I type. My wife thinks I look obscene when I write because of this. Go ahead, you figure that statement out. During that break, I took out my copy of The Best of Necrotic Tissue.

When I first received this collection of stories published during the 14 issue life span of Necrotic Tissue, I bounced around from story to story, picking and choosing which ones to read from the table of contents. You know, just kind of read it willy nilly. This time I decided to start from the beginning.

I made it as far as the forward, written by R. Scott McCoy, the owner of Necrotic Tissue. The forward wasn’t bad. No, it wasn’t bad at all. The truth is, if you actually read the forward you would understand a truth—the truth—of how great a publication the horror genre has lost.

No, this isn’t about the actual publication. It isn’t even about the stories. It’s about… Sunshine. Sunshine is… wait. Do you want to know what Sunshine is? Pick up a copy of the book.

I know. I know. That’s all sorts of wrong, but McCoy and his Staph deserves for folks to buy this collection. Again, it has nothing to do with the stories. Not in this case.

This has everything to do with love.

No, not that mushy stuff between a girl and a boy when they first discover each other. No, not that love you have for a car or an object that brings you pleasure—some of you really need to behave and get your minds out the gutter. Sheesh. No, not the type of love you have for a television show or a comic book character or a video game. No, not the love of a sports team.

It is the love for community.

No, not your neighborhood.

Hear me out. The horror community is small. It may seem large, but it’s not. There are few quality markets out there. And when I say quality, I don’t mean just in the writing and artwork departments. I also mean in professionalism. Necrotic Tissue excelled in professionalism.

In the time period that NT was around, I submitted seven stories to them. They accepted two of them, including my first professional sale. They rejected four of them and two others were shortlisted, one eventually rejected, and the other, well, the other one had been shortlisted before they closed their e-mail account forever.

They were every bit as professional as any publication could be.

Professionalism. Something that is missing in a lot of markets these days. Let’s see, they:

* Had quick turn around times with their submissions (both acceptances and rejections).
* Provided feedback on the stories that were rejected. And with that feedback, there was never, ever an insulting tone to their comments.
* Made payments when they said they would.
* Delivered a quality publication.
* Worked with the writers to make sure their stories were clean of errors, and helped make good stories better.

A few numbers for you:

In fourteen issues, Necrotic Tissue:

* Received 2975 submissions .
* Published 298 of those submissions.
* Sent 2677 personalized rejections!
* They received 266 of these __________ . What were they?

Let’s go back a step.

They sent 2677 personalized rejections. Personalized. Not a form letter, folks. Personal rejections. Do you know how long it takes to write a personalized rejection that offers feedback to just one story? It takes a while, because in order to write that personal e-mail, the editors would have had to read each story in its entirety. No, not skimmed over them. No, not read the first few pages. They had to read all of the stories from beginning to end. Eyes must have bled during this process.

There is a reason for this. You see, R. Scott McCoy is a writer. He has been on the other end of the submission process. He sweated bullets while he waited to hear from publications, sometimes three months later, sometimes six months later. Sometimes never hearing from a publication at all. A lot of times the rejections came in a form letter. All that waiting and nothing to show for it. Not even a ‘hey, this was crap, dude.’ Anything is better than nothing.

One of the things he set out to do when he started Necrotic Tissue was to give the writers a place to submit to, with quick turn around times and personalized comments. I guess that’s really three things, isn’t it? Oh, and he wasn’t rude about it.

McCoy did it the right way.

Why?

Because he loved—still does, if I’m correct—the horror community. He gave back to that community by putting out a quality publication that didn’t seek big names to fill the pages, but quality stories instead. He knew that in order for writers to get better, they have to know where they went wrong, what they made mistakes on, whether they were close to publication or as far away as another planet. If they know what they need work on, and they heed the words of the editors, then (most of the time) they get better. If they become better writers, that means more quality stories for other editors and readers.

McCoy got it—he understood what the community needed. He and his staph (yes, I know that is not the way the word is spelled, but anyone who has read NT knows the reference) gave of their skills and their time… and time is something you can’t get back. They put out fourteen glorious issues.

Necrotic Tissue was my favorite horror publication. I was saddened when I received the e-mail releasing my story from consideration because they were closing up shop. I miss it.

I’ve said all that to say this: Hey, R. Scott McCoy, in your forward you stated that you didn’t know if you helped any of the writers you sent rejections to, but if you helped one writer the way you were helped, then you would be content. Well, you can be content. You helped this writer. Not only with a rejection, but an acceptance (or two, for that matter) as well.

You see, McCoy, if you hadn’t rejected the first four stories I sent to NT, then I might not have been as inclined as I was to get better. Sure, other publications rejected stories, but the fact that you were willing to give feedback made me think about some of the things I did wrong. I tried harder—possibly the hardest for any publication—to make it into Necrotic Tissue. By doing so, my writing improved for other publications.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who you helped, but I feel this is long overdue.

Thank you for being willing to take the time to better the horror community. Thank you for your rejections. And, of course, thank you for your acceptances, as well.

R. Scott McCoy, thank you.

I hope this is a little Sunshine for you.

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…

Publications… October 2010

October is my favorite month, but more on that later.  For now, I thought I would just post my recent publications.

Clearly the one I am proudest of is the editor’s choice story for Necrotic Tissue Issue #12, Picket Fences.  It can be purchased here:

http://www.necrotictissue.com/magazines_O.html

The House of Horrors held a contest over a three or so month period titled The Duel.  Though I didn’t win, I did come in second place… albeit under a pseudonym, Dwight Patterson.

Those five stories are:

Peppermint and Smoke

To Bleed…

Lost and Found

Under the Sycamore Tree

The Truth In the Midst of the Battle

The entire contest has been made into an anthology. 

Also from House of Horrors is an anthology titled Pint of Bloody Fiction, a collection of short short stories.  My extremely short piece, Bellie’s Bucket appears within.

The Duel and A Pint of Bloody Fiction can be purchased here:

http://www.houseofhorror.org.uk/#/book-shop/4535143845

Afflicted, a story about a man who was all but crippled in a car accident, appears in the anthology Under A Harvest Moon, put out by Pagan Imagination.  The blurb on the back cover says it all:

“Open the pages, step inside, be sure you are safe, and not truly flesh bait. Rest assured you’ll be entertained, by hunger’s thirst, and demons play. Some are afflicted, with ruthless abandon, though presently, we search for gemstone magicks. Keep your eyes wide and free, glance not peripherally for we’ll keep you spellbound, under the influences of erotics found . We’ll be ever-grateful, for those who’ve survived, and read till the end of our harvest, this time.”

It can be found here:

https://www.createspace.com/3491966

Twisted Dreams Magazine picked up my short story, Borrowed Money on the Grave of a Loved One.

I’ll update this with a link to that one as soon as I can get it.

And finally, but certainly not least, 52 Stitches just published my flash piece, Imprisoned, my take on Vlad the Impaler’s time in one of his own dungeons. 

It can be found here:

http://52stitches.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the reads…