For a few months there was a regular flow of rejections – form, personal, what have you. Then I received my first acceptance from Phobos Magazine, for a short story titled The Landlord. In it an eight year old boy runs into his parents' landlord, and then things get a little weird. It begins like this:
Bobby followed the chewing sounds into the kitchen. The fridge stood open and half empty. The chewing man behind the table had a long, white beard, speckled with drops of sauce and bits of meat. When he noticed the boy, he said, “You, you the kid of the house?” His voice was deep and trembling, each word a struggle. Bobby nodded. He looked at the man's red coat.
It was very encouraging to see my first published story in a print magazine, let alone know that someone had liked it enough to pay me for it.
Phobos Magazine, Issue 2: Emergence is available in ebook and print formats. It features the work by Amanda C. Davis, Sean Tanner, Jay Werkheiser, Craig S. Shoemake, Michael J. DeLuca, Shannon Fay, Grandpa Saint, William R.D. Wood, Terr Light, DK Wayrd, Rhonda Eikamp, Rebecca M. Latimer, and Lee Forsythe.
It was published by Bad Dream Entertainment, whose website features short dark fiction by a variety of authors, including Santiago Eximeno, Christopher Nadeau, Natasha Alston, Jay Seate, Anna Yeatts, Mark Patrick Lynch, and Birney Reed (whose debut collection of dark fiction, The Tales of Victor Coachman, was published by BDE in October).
Deep in the savanna, a long time ago, there used to be a place called the Valley of Long Grass. The air in the valley was hot, the soil hard, and the animals lean and tenacious, and ever hungry. In the day the sky was a gold cloth, in the night, a floating pool of blood. Gold and blood, those were the lives of the predators who lived among the stems – they would work, and trade, and hunt the small creatures that roamed there, and they would kill each other, often and with brutality.
It was published in Goldfish Grimm, Issue 22: Rainbows in the Dark along with Alex Livingston's Value and Saturation.
Bill and I went hunting today. It was quiet around us, except for the sound of grass rising up in our footsteps and the rustling of leaves. I thought Bill and I must hear quiet differently, and that thought made me sad. Then we saw the deer. It was thin and brown, the eyes shiny black. It stood there a moment, frozen in that bubble of quiet with Bill and me, and then everything quaked – the animal lost its balance and dropped to the ground. Bill smiled and slapped me on the back. I was happy for him.
I went even shorter, stepping into the realm of microfiction, with Dog Killing, a piece published by LitroNY. It's too short to post any type of excerpt here, so I'll just say that it features a dog and a man spiraling into madness.
Next there was Night Swim, a short story published in Firewords Quarterly, Issue 3 – an issue so beautifully designed and illustrated that it earned its own lengthy blog post. To summarize, it was a great honor to have the story illustrated by the masterful Jordan Harrison and published alongside works by writers such as Die Booth, Tom Ryan, Charlie Galbraith, Barry Charman and others.
You can order Issue 3 here.
Finally, I had another microfiction piece, Anglerfish – this time even shorter than Dog Killing – published in The Molotov Cocktail, Issue 5.17. It's some kind of horror, and can be read in under two minutes.
I'm in truly exceptional company in this issue, which features flash fiction by Cull Strider and Laura Citino.
Overall, I'm happy with my accomplishments this past year in the short story arena. As far as novel writing goes, I still haven't finished the novel I'd been planning to finish last August. That's inexcusable, but I suppose I have nothing left to do but put the hard feelings I'm harboring toward myself aside, and finish the damn thing. Hopefully, in the first half of 2015.