Archive for the ‘short story’ Category

You know, I think every horror writer has a story that has a title that sounds a lot like this one. “The Woman in the Coffin”; “The Pit and the Pendulum”; “The Lady in the Water.” Okay, that last one isn’t a horror story, but it is pretty horrifying. And you get my point, right?

Anywho, in my last post I said I was going to take a break from Full Circle and work on a few short stories. This is the first of those: “The Woman in the Coffin,” a short story about two cousins living in the English countryside who find a coffin with, you guessed it, a woman inside. In a way, it’s similar to my previous short story “Buried Alive,” which also revolved around someone buried in a coffin, but the whole coffin thing is really where it ends. Especially when you consider what the woman in the coffin in this short story does.

Do you think I have a thing for coffins? I have always wanted one that I could convert into a bed. That would be cool.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this story. It only took me four days to get it down, which is a record for me (though considering this is my first short story written almost entirely with Dragon software, maybe this will be a new norm). I also had a lot of fun writing British characters. Normally my characters are in the States and talk like they’re from the States. I had to draw on all my years of reading British literature and watching British films and television to make it sound like they were actually British and not Americans in a British setting. I’ll probably have to work on that further when I get to the editing phase with this story.

It’s also shorter than most of my short stories, at about 6,550 words (for me, that is short. Most of my short stories average around 8,000 words). And I think there’s a lot of material I could cut out without sacrificing quality. If I can do that, I think it’ll be much more likely that a magazine or an anthology will want to publish it. And wouldn’t it be cool if that happened?

Anyway, it’s getting late, so I’m going to sign off. Next I’m going to edit my short story “The Playroom,” and then I’m going to write a quick short story that takes place in a location we’ve all heard about and hope never to visit. Hopefully I’ll be done with all that in the next two weeks.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m dividing my writing time between working on Full Circle* and working on short stories. And with my short stories, there’s been more of an emphasis lately to write them with the goal of getting them into magazines and/or anthologies. Why? Well, as many of you know, I’ve been trying the traditional publishing route again (though I will self-publish if I feel a story is better off getting published that way), and while getting published in magazines and anthologies isn’t absolutely necessary to getting an agent and/or publisher, they do help make you more appealing to them. Kind of like internships and volunteering on a resume during a job search, if you think about it a certain way.

That being said, getting your short stories in mags and anthologies is pretty difficult these days. Okay, the short story market has always been difficult (Stephen King said in his autobiography On Writing that he had railroad spikes full of rejection letters from mags/publishers/agents/etc. before he found success), but in an age where so much content is available for free, reading has to compete with movies, streaming, and video games, and even self-publishing is cutting into magazine’s readership,** magazines and anthologies are even choosier than they used to be. Especially the ones that pay. They only accept the best work out of all the submissions they receive.

So up against this market, how can an author increase their chances of getting their stories published? Well, keep writing, get other people to take a look at your work for feedback, and don’t take every rejection as the end of the world or as a reflection of your talents, of course. But is there anything beyond that to help one get editors’ attentions? Well, there are a few strategies, and I’d like to list them here:

  1. Research and target. In this strategy, an author should create stories geared towards a particular magazine or group of magazines. For example, if you find a magazine that prefers urban fantasy stories, write an urban fantasy story that the magazine would probably like. Look at the magazine’s website and/or in recent issues to get an even better idea of what sort of stories they prefer (maybe they prefer female protagonists, or they hate romances between humans and supernatural creatures). Once you have a good idea of what they prefer in their stories, write one in that vein and then submit it to them. Chances are that if the story is the kind the magazine specializes in and likes, they’ll publish it.
    I’ve actually used this strategy successfully before. My first published short story, Summers with Grandmother Fumika, is about a fox-spirit that takes part in a Japanese tea ceremony. It was written after I discovered a magazine that specializes in articles and fiction relating to tea! Earned $100 for that story, which to a high schooler who averaged about $28-$35 dollars selling tickets for basketball games, was a pretty big deal. And I recently wrote a short story that I wrote for a specific sub-genre of horror, so there’s a good chance that it could be published in any of the publications that like those stories (though time will tell, of course).
  2. Rely on your networks. We live in an age of social media, and that means we come across all sorts of people we might never have even known existed thirty, twenty, or even just ten years ago. That means if you have a blog, belong to writer’s groups on Facebook, or belong to an online critique circle, you potentially have dozens or hundreds of people who can help you find homes for your stories. For example, I asked one of my writers’ groups on Facebook if they had any suggestions for places I could submit another short story in a particular sub-genre of horror. Within a few hours, I had a couple of responses that I could follow up with.
    Sometimes your friends don’t even have to give you suggestions. Occasionally, they run magazines or anthologies! In the past three years, three short stories were published in anthologies where a friend of mine was one of the editors (you know who you are). Just from this, you can see what an amazing resource friends can be!
  3. Check your publications. There are a buttload of books out there that are meant to help the average writer write and publish their work. Most of them have sections full of listings for magazines, agencies etc, and a lot of them are updated yearly. The best part is, a lot of libraries carry copies of these great tomes with them. I highly recommend The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market from Writer’s Digest. They have great articles and listings (though never enough in the horror department, sadly).
  4. Google. I know, sounds like something that goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how often this doesn’t occur to people. Google is a remarkable resource, and if you’re careful with your search terms and what links you click on, it can open doors. In the past couple months, Google has led me to several magazines and anthologies that specialized in stories I could send them. At the moment, I’ve been rejected by one, but there’s a chance I could be accepted by two more. And if those don’t work out, there are all sorts of places I can still try out. All thanks to Google

Now, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll get into a magazine or anthology, even with using these tips. That’s fine, many successful writers have rarely or even never been published in these sort of publications. But if you think it can help your career, or you prefer short to longer stories, these tips might just help you get into that collection of winter-themed romances or into that magazine that likes hopeful stories involving space exploration and interactions with alien species. And that is a joy that every writer relishes.

*Speaking of which, when I’m working on that, the general policy is “get a chapter done, then work on a short story or a blog post.” So if you see a post come out on this blog over the next couple of months, it’s either because something big happened worthy of blogging about, or I just got a chapter of FC done. Like I did right before I started writing this post (only 22 more to go!).

**Dammit self-publishing, why do you have to–wait, what am I saying?

first-day-first-paragraph-tag

I think this might be the last time I do this particular tag for a while. I mean, it’s a great tag. It’s a fun tag. I created it with that in mind. But I’m running through my list of author friends very fast and I don’t want to run out of friends too soon. Besides, I think I’ve started a few good chains here. Perhaps this tag will continue on without me.

So if you get this tag, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

March 1st? Done. Graphic used? Correct. Thanked and linked back to…myself? Not necessary. Explained the rules? Done! Post the first paragraph of something I’ve written/writing/planning to write someday? Well, I really like Car Chasers, the short story I wrote back in October, so I’ll go with that. Enjoy:

There are many tales that come out of Shan Woods, and nearly all of them have to do with Chasers’ Run. One of those stories is the tragic tale of Asher Greenwich and Donnie Griggs, which has been retold and changed around so much that even those who were there when it happened aren’t sure what’s true and what’s not. This is the actual version of events, or the one least convoluted by soap opera embellishment. And it all started on Saturday, July 6th, during one of the hottest summers on record.

Thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And finally, to tag someone. I pick…Dellani Oakes! Dellani, you’re up. Enjoy the tag, and have fun with it.

That’s all for now. It’s a new month, so I’m hoping to get plenty done. Fingers crossed. Until next time, my Followers of Fear.

first-day-first-paragraph-tag

Once more, I’m doing this tag. Why? Because it’s fun. And I still want to see if I can spread it around the Internet. Since I created this tag, I’ve tagged four people. Too soon to tell if #4 has done the tag, but I’ve gotten two of the previous three to do the tag, so the success rate isn’t too bad.

Anyway, here are the rules of the tag:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

Published on February 1st? Check. Used the graphic above? Check. Guy from Slovakia is actually a…Czech. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, not going to thank myself. That’d be weird. I have explained the rules though, so I’m doing a good job otherwise.

Today’s paragraph is coming from the titular story of my collection of short stories, The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones. That collection was the first work I published myself, and it’s my most reviewed as well. That’s either because it’s been around the longest or it’s also very short. Or both.

Anyway, enjoy:

It was a tranquil Saturday morning at St. Dunstan’s School for Girls as Traci opened her eyes and stretched. Slipping out of bed, Traci moved past her sleeping roommate and across the hall to the bathroom to shower. As she showered, she couldn’t help but feel like she was forgetting something. She wasn’t sure what, but she knew she had forgotten something and whatever it was, it was important. But what on Earth could she have forgotten? It was Saturday, which meant no required Mass. She had some homework, but she’d get that done after breakfast, and there was nothing to do in town today. What could it be?

Comments? Thoughts? Let’s discuss.

And now to tag someone to start a new chain. Let’s see…I choose my friend Adan Ranie! Adan, you’ve been tagged. I hope you decide to take this up and I hope you have fun while doing it.

That’s all for now. It’s February, so I’m hoping for good things this month. Don’t know what form those good things will take, but anything’s possible.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

Well, I’m writing this at a time I’m normally preparing for bed, but what can I say? When you’re on a roll and nearing the end, you just don’t stop writing.

Now, if you didn’t know, I’m taking a short break from working on Full Circle to work on some short stories. This particular short story, The Red Burst, is one I particularly had fun writing. The story is about a man and his husband who go to visit the former’s sister in a small town, only to find out that something that gives off bursts of red light (hence the title) is driving the residents insane. It’s definitely a dark story, and it’s special too for a number of reasons. One is that this story is very HP Lovecraft-influenced in many ways.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with HP Lovecraft, he’s a horror author who wrote during the first half of the twentieth century, and has become very influential since (see my posts on my forays into his work, Part 1 and Part 2). A lot of his themes include the idea that humanity are ants in the grand scheme of things, that there’s no real meaning to existence, and that there might be things in the universe that are bigger than us and might see us as a food source or playthings. This is called cosmic horror, and I tired to incorporate those themes into The Red Burst. I got so hooked on the Lovecraft aspect of the story, I actually started reading his work again, and I listened to Lovecraft-themed relaxation videos on YouTube while I wrote the story (yes, those are a thing. Look up Ephemeral Rift on YouTube if you’re interested).

Another thing I liked about this story was that I got to incorporate a gay couple into the story. Even better, a Jewish gay couple! I like having diverse characters in my stories, and I know a lot of LGBT Jewish couples, so it was interesting having that sort of couple in the story, portraying not just their relationship but also their faith and how the events of the story affect that faith. I have a feeling though some of those LGBT couples I know will be coming up to me asking if I based the characters on them. The answer to that, of course, is no, because they haven’t done anything horrible enough to warrant that treatment from me.

And a final thing that I enjoyed with writing the story was that I got to use a drone in it! I don’t know why, but including modern elements in horror stories is just a blast for me. It’s like, “look, there’s a powerful demon from Hell, and now there’s an augmented reality game!” Or, “there’s a ghost after me, but at the same time, superhero franchises!” It’s like they don’t go together, but at the same time you make them go together, and it’s an incredible result. Plus with some, like the drone, you feel like there aren’t that many stories with the same elements in them, so you’re kind of exploring new territory. It’s a real thrill.

So what’s next for this story? Well, I’ll give it some time and return to it at a later date to edit it. It’s around 7,500 words, but I’ve discovered quite a few Lovecraft-themed magazines that are open to longer stories, so I may find this one a home. And if it does get published, I think people will really enjoy it. Especially Lovecraft fans who like a story with his themes but without language that was prevalent in early 19th century.

In the meantime, I’ll return to Full Circle ASAP and get to work on finishing that. I still have quite a ways to go, but after working on some short stories involving werewolves, cars, and insanity-causing red lights, I think some gangster science fiction shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll let you guys know if there’s anything new going on when the time comes.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear! Pleasant nightmares!

tqg cover

Hello again, Followers of Fear. Enjoying your Christmas/Hanukkah/preparations for Kwanzaa/whatever else is going on right now?

Earlier I mentioned that I got two new reviews on separate books, each from the same person (see my last post for the one on Video Rage). And yesterday, when I wasn’t looking, the same shopper, going by the title…Shopper, also left a review of The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, a collection of original short stories I wrote, and my first published book. It’s my most juvenile of works, but it’s also my most reviewed and definitely one of my most beloved stories, with a rating of 4.1 out of 5.

I think part of the draw is that it’s short, only five stories.

Shopper gave their review the title Samson Weiss was my favorite, in reference to the title of one of my short stories, and rated the book a 4 out of 5. Here’s what they had to say:

This collection had great reviews, I don’t disagree. I kept reading about Addict. I found that story disconcerting. The author chose the very unorthodox second person point of view, which was unsettling, and therefore pretty effective. The story that grabbed my attention was the tormented senator Samson Weiss.

Samson Weiss and the senator were two different characters, but I’m glad they enjoyed the collection, and that they agree with the other reviews:

5 wonderfully crafted tales! I purchased this as an eBook originally and put off reading it for quite a while, I really wish I hadn’t waited. Sometimes when one purchases a collection of short stories you expect some of them to be less entertaining or of lower quality than the others, but none of these disappoint. Well worth the money, especially considering after you read each story the author gives you creative insight into what inspired him to write each tale, which is really wonderful.

Jeff D.

This is the first time I’ve read any of Rami’s stories. I was very impressed with the wide variety of stories and the way he wove the paranormal into each piece. Paranormal is not something I usually read and I enjoyed this collection very much. The collection reminded me of the Twlight Zone. The descriptions were especially well developed. Keep on writing Rami!

Arthur Siegal

All of the stories were really diverse and fun to read. I also enjoyed the authors blurbs about each stories origination and development. Keep up the good work!

Kim B.

And if I’m lucky, The Quiet Game will continue to get good reviews in the years to come. I know one of my coworkers bought a copy (I left her a very nice message when I signed it for her), so hopefully she’ll leave me a good review after she reads it.

Speaking of which, if you’d like to check out The Quiet Game, I’ll post the links below. And if you do decide to check out the collection, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback (though if the past two weeks are any indication, I especially love positive feedback), and it makes me strive harder to be a better writer. And I would love to hear yours.

That’s all for now. Happy Holidays, my Followers of Fear.

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Hey, Followers of Fear! Long time no see! I’ve been busy trying to get a short story done before November 1st. And tonight, I managed to do it. Car Chasers is a short story that centers around a Fast & Furious-esque race held in a forest where ghosts chase the racers. Yeah, it’s a pretty out there concept, isn’t it? And I think it might make a great movie, even without Vin Diesel in a starring role.

I liked writing this story for a number of reasons. Along with a fun concept, it focused on a particular incident with these races, told through the point of view of an unreliable narrator. Normally, the unreliable narrators I encounter in fiction are jackasses (the main characters of Gone Girl and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, for example), but the narrator in this story is actually telling it trying to put a good spin on a friend of his, which is different from my normal experience. I also put a few people I know in the story in varying capacities (you’re welcome, Pat Bertram and Melissa Mendel), and named the bad guy of this story after a certain public figure I dislike a lot right now. Yeah, I’m sadistic that way. It’s fun.

So when can you read this story? Well, it’s a first draft, and it’s going to need a lot of work. For one thing, there are some places in the story that could be fixed or trimmed down. As the story is a bit over ten-thousand words, and therefore technically a novelette, I might want to really trim it down if I want to get it into a magazine. If that doesn’t happen, I can see this in my upcoming collection of short stories, Teenage Wasteland. The characters are at the right age, so it’s a good choice for the collection.

In the meantime though, November is just around the corner. And for novelists, that means one thing: National Novel Writing Month. I’ve got the final Reborn City novel to write, and after that, I’m devoting all my time to getting that novel and Teenage Wasteland out as soon as possible.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll see you guys with a couple of posts on November 1st, when I’ll be doing another “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag, and talking about Reborn City and the final novel, Full Circle. Have a happy Halloween, guys. See you soon!