Greetings, traveler, from Ann Wycoff, who lives near Santa Cruz, California where feline eyes glitter in dark places between monstrous red trees, where occult apes lurk with unseen tread and unclean purpose, where sacrifices to forgotten devils lie drowned, profaned, forgotten in stygian waters.
Do you like me pine for steaming jungles within the island kingdom of the imagination, where
where beats the heart of savage drums, and there live philosophic yet murderous crustaceans, shattered robots, buried sacrifices to forgotten devils, and dark countries yet unfounded?
If so then hail and well met, fellow traveler!
Today’s story for our upcoming debut anthology, The Lost Librarian’s Grave, is “Ocular” by Nidheesh Samant, who spins a tale where the walls have eyes, but as it often turns out in both life and fiction, not everything is even remotely as it appears….
The intrepid Suraj Thakur finds himself in the middle of a mystery when his friend, Alan Humes, doesn’t come back from a trip to a rural village. At the behest of Mrs. Humes, Thakur traces his friend’s footsteps, which lead to the sinister Kamath Lodge. From there, our protagonist is thrown into an unlikely and increasingly grotesque adventure where it seems as if everyone knows far more than he is saying….
Nidheesh is a marketing professional, a writer, and a collector of trivia, who believes the best thing in life is a good bowl of soup. He lives in Mumbai, India with his family, and you can find him online at @darthnid on Instagram or via his website.
Harikalar Diyarında of Hatter Tea Party posted a fun post about the Martian canals, which served as inspiration for a lot of things, most near and dear to my heart–science fiction from the Golden Age and beyond!
Check out the original post: besides being interesting, it also has some pretty pictures!
Excerpted from Dancing on Ropes: Translators & the Balance of History by Anna Aslanyan:
In August of 1877, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli turned his telescope towards Mars. The director of the Brera Observatory in Milan had installed an eight-inch Merz refractor on the roof of the Brera Palace, initially to observe double stars. Pleased with its performance on that task, he wanted to see if it ‘possessed the necessary qualities to allow also for the studies of the surfaces of the planets’. With Mars due to be in opposition with Earth in early September, Schiaparelli decided to seize the opportunity.
The observations he made over the next two months transformed our image of the Red Planet. In addition to previously noted brighter and darker areas, referred to as terrae (lands) and maria (seas), he could now distinguish, at first ‘in a very vague and indeterminate manner’, dark lines…
Today’s writing prompt comes from a hike we recently did where I found a book stuck up in a tree, which I thought was a little unusual—especially since it sat there for three weeks. The talented painter, Dave Stone, gave me the idea for this writing prompt with a comment he made on my personal blog about the Book in a Tree. Thanks, Dave!
Produce a piece of writing or art that is inspired by this picture of a book in a tree.
For bonus points, choose any book, place it in a tree and mediate for a minute or two, clearing your mind. Then randomly pick 2D6 different words from the text and work those words into your story.*
If you come up with a piece of writing using this prompt, let me know about it in the comments: I’d like to read it. You can also use this prompt for visual arts, music, pretty much anything creative that you’d like.
* You don’t have to put the book on a tree. You can put it under a potted plant instead or if you aren’t a plant person then build a little stonehenge thingie out of spice bottles and place the book inside the spice circle!
Sonora Taylor is making Little Paranoias, her 2019 collection of short horror fiction available for free on Amazon until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 30th. I downloaded the e-book myself yesterday and have added it to my ever-growing reading list.
Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?
“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear — but after all, it’s those little paranoias that drive our day-to-day.
I run across these free offers quite often and I think they are a good way for readers to gain an introduction to an author they’ve never read before, and thus good for the author too.* I know that I am much more likely to buy an author’s offerings if I’ve enjoyed some of their work in the past. Plus, for those on a budget, deals like this are a nice way to grow an electronic library.
If you end up downloading and reading Little Paranoias, let me know how you liked it in the comments.
* I will post more of these free offers when I run across them.
Winner of the Ladies of Horror Fiction Award for Best Collection (2019).
The Lost Librarian’s Grave—coming October 1, 2021.
One thing that I am enjoying about editing our debut horror and weird fiction anthology is the chance it gives me to revisit some of the stories we accepted a couple of months ago.
This brings me to Amanda Cecelia Lang’s interesting and unique short story, “Snake and Sinew, Flame and Bone.” Although I’m only getting to “Snake” just now, this was the first story we accepted for the anthology back in May so it holds a special place in The Lost Librarian’s Grave.*
As befits a tale like this one, Lang begins with her protagonist, Lilias Proctor, waking up from being long dead—she’s roused by the sounds of her sisters digging her up. We learn of the varied and harrowing torments Lilias endured before she was killed, and apparently coming back to life is no picnic either.
There are a number of interesting themes and ideas explored in “Snake and Sinew, Flame and Bone,” including the cycle of life, death and rebirth and the idea of taking sins and evils into oneself as a scapegoat.** I also enjoyed how the author played with time in her story structure as well as the lyric quality of her prose—each time I re-read Lang’s tale I unearthed another nugget of poetry.
All of this is well and good and fun, but Lang succeeds in what I think is the most important element in a story: “Snake and Sinew, Flame and Bone” was a fun read.
Amanda Cecelia Lang’s horror stories have appeared on The Other Stories podcast, Thirteen podcast, Creepy podcast, and in the anthologies Night Terrors, Mix Tape: 1986 and The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror.
Besides writing horror fiction, Amanda also has the worthy aspiration to become a recluse.*** She lives with her life partner and two ancient cats in Denver, Colorado (USA). You can follow Lang’s literary efforts by visiting her website at amandacecelialang.com, and in October you can check out her story in The Lost Librarian’s Grave.
* This is the first story, but the first piece of writing we accepted was Rhonda Parrish’s poem, “The Grotesque.”
** In the ritualistic or religious sense, and in lexical sense of the term.
The Lost Librarian’s Grave—coming October 1, 2021.
Pauline Yates gives us a peek into the mind of a disturbed* individual, who has a pretty unique perspective on suicide prevention, with her fast-moving horror story, “The Jump.” I don’t want to give away too much, but I feel pretty safe in saying that Yates’ narrator is very much an “ends justify the means,” sort of person with an interesting set of useful skills. You know what they say—knowledge is power!
Yates enjoys exploring the complexities of human nature through horror and speculative fiction, and I found “The Jump” to be an interesting psychological piece where it is fun to consider the narrator’s thinking through the lens of what the author doesn’t tell us about her main character.** I also enjoyed the ending; she got me with that last line. When you read “The Jump,” don’t spoil it by skipping to the end!
Pauline is an Australian writer whose short stories have appeared in many venues, including Metaphorosis, Abyss & Apex, Aurealis, and in various publications through Black Hare Press.
Her short story, “The Best Medicine,” won best in category in the 2020 Australia Horror Writers Association Flash Fiction and Short Story Competition.
You can learn more about Pauline on her website, see what she is reading on Goodreads, and find some of her work through her Amazon Author Page. She can also be found on Twitter@midnightmuser1.
* By “disturbed” I mean insane.
** I enjoy monsters, supernatural terrors, etc. and there is a lot of that in The Lost Librarian’s Grave,” but I also very much dig stories where the dangers come from human beings with no special powers beyond what their intelligence, resources, skills, and circumstances can bring to bear.
We have finished acquiring stories for our first publication, The Lost Librarian’s Grave, and have begun the editing process. Our debut anthology of horror and weird fiction promises to be a somewhat weighty tome, so Don and I have a fair amount of work ahead of us.
I am also considering whether or not we should do a Patreon page and/or a Kickstarter for The Lost Librarian’s Grave. I’ve looked into those a little—most of my experience with those two platforms has been from the contributor end of things—but for now I’m going to stay focused on the editing process. Like I said, our first anthology is going to be a lot of book.
I’ll leave you with a section from a piece of black & white interior art we are considering using in the book. There is a lot more to this image than what you are seeing here. I clipped out the top right-hand bit with the two moons and the gargoyle-dragon-winged monstrosity-whatever-the-heck-it-is doing its thing.
This weekend we’ll be back again with another featured story about an odd person who has some disturbing ideas about suicide prevention. As it happens this is the very story we are currently working on editing.
Until then, keep reading.*
* I’m curious to know what was the last book you read and what is one of the books you are currently reading now. Let us know in the comments and we’ll start it off ourselves.
Today’s writing prompt comes courtesy of Rose Thompson, who blogs at Magpie at Midnight, where she is “a sometimes artist, film maker, and writer.” I like bananas quite a lot. Besides being packed with valuable nutrients, they are a staple of the classic comedy I grew up with. Can you think of an opening of a story involving slipping on a banana peel or just bananas in general, humorous or no. 🙂
When I was a kid I used to spend my weekend mornings watching the TV with my sister. On the UK terrestrial channels we used to get mornings of programming that included a range of different programmes and quiz shows, and these frequently included slapstick inspired cartoons like Tom and Jerry. We used to watch a lot of stuff, and much of it I cannot remember. But do remember moments from the cartoons, and it was not unusual for these cartoons to feature a banana skin and a crucial moment in the chase.
It’s been a long time now since I saw a chase scene in which a crucial moment depends on an unfortunate encounter with a banana skin. However I recently saw this actual banana skin on the road and felt compelled to take a photograph of it. I was very attracted to the bright warm yellow on the…
Today’s writing prompt comes from your own reading, because what you read can fuel your own writing, either deep within the opaque corners of one’s mind and-or self-consciously, welling up to the surface of things.
First, consider the cover of whatever book you are currently reading as general inspiration. See where the artwork takes you in the quest to create something new. You can also work in the text too if that proves useful.
Second, pick a book of any sort, go to a random page and pick one sentence, again at random. Work that sentence as an ingredient into the soup that is your new creation.
I picked a random book from my collection, closed my eyes, opened the volume and plunked my finger down on the page. I opened my eyes and read, “Behind these apocryphal tales is the visionary technique of rising in the Planes.”
You can simply work the sentence into your work in progress—with proper attribution of course—or unlike Mr. Nero the Cat, you can try and think out of the box.
Some ideas that quickly come to mind as I type this are:
Sprinkle all of the words in your sentence throughout your text. This is what I did for a bit of microfiction I wrote back in 2019 called “I Want My Blanket,” that appeared inSloth, published by the good folks at Black Hare Press.
Write down each word on a separate scrap of paper. You can then manipulate the words in various ways for your project. For example, you can pick one piece at random, use the word in your project, pick another word, and so on. Another possibility is to allow the scraps to fall and only use the ones that are face up or are face down, etc. William S. Burroughs liked to perform various manipulations with words using methods like these as well as many others.
Instead of using the words from the sentence you picked, try and find synonyms, antonyms, or (if possible) homonyms for some of the words.
If you came up with something using prompt, please let me know in the comments. I’d like to read your masterpiece!
The Lost Librarian’s Grave—coming October 1, 2021.
Angeliki Radou graces our anthology with her satisfying, short horror story, “The Binding of Chrysanthoula.” Our tale opens with Katerina watching her beloved daughter—the eponymous Chrysanthoula—whither way.* She is losing weight fast, her hair is falling out, and no seems able to help her. Not even a string of big city doctors.
Katerina is not a woman to give up, certainly not on her daughter as she hovers on the brink of death. Will she solve the mystery of Chrysanthoula’s illness? Will the girl live? All will be revealed this October in the thrice-damned pages of The Lost Librarian’s Grave!
Angeliki was born in Greece. She studied Journalism and has published six books in Greek, including a young adult series, The Dark Stories of Young Poe.
She is a member of the nyctophili.gr writing team, and her latest book is entitled Ghost in the Snow: Spirits, Legends and Burial Customs in Japan, from Editions Momentum.
She currently resides in Athens with her husband and two children.
We are proud that “The Binding of Chrysanthoula” is Angeliki’s first published story to appear in English. A fine thing indeed to grace the blasted grave of our lost librarian!
* Angeliki’s Goodreads page defaults to Greek. If you are like me and it is all Greek to you, there are a couple of ways to switch the language. An easy way is to right-click, which will bring up a “translate” option.