On the Near Horizon – Upcoming Anthologies

I have a number of projects coming to fruition, and I am pleased to finally be able to share some more detail about what is coming up.

Paying the Ferryman Front Cover

Anthology: Paying the Ferryman

Story: Maze Walker

Available: October 20, 2015

A virtual book launch party will take place on Facebook the evening of October 20 to celebrate the launch of “Paying the Ferryman”, and offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the anthology. It will be my first such experience and I’m looking forward to the event to mingle with the contributing authors and supporters. It will be a great event and you’re invited to join the fun.

Paying the Ferryman is a collection of stories that start after the main character has died. My contribution is “Maze Walker”, where a man is condemned to walk ad vitam aeternam, all the while being tortured by unseen Ferrymen. Hold on to your hat – and any organs you consider important – as you enjoy a new kind of Ferryman’s maze of torment. Death is just the beginning. Are you ready to pay?

Holes and Craters

Anthology: The Corpse Candle and other Nightmares Horror Anthology

Story: Of Holes and Craters

Available: Halloween 2015

“Of Holes and Craters” is the story of Grace, a teenager forced to live among a prison full of Teddys, InfecTED victims of a devastating plague. B12, as she is known in the reformatorium, might be short on fingers, but there is no limit to her imagination. Cleverness. Ingenuity. Will she ever find a way to break out without collecting an extra hole in the head? Find out on Halloween 2015.

ruinationcoversmall

Anthology: Plague: Ruination

Stories: The Wolf Strain & Ark of the Lonesome

Available: Winter 2015-16

Plague: Ruination is a part of the Plague series created by editor and author Jeremiah Donaldson (ephiroll.com). My story “All of a Heap” appeared in the second book, Plague: Aftermath. Through social media, I had the opportunity to connect with another contributor, Lyndsey Shir-McDermott-Pour . When the call for Ruination came out, Lynds and I decided to draw from Jeremiah’s original novel, and collaborate on a story to show what would happen in the next few days of his Plague, focusing on what could be Patient Zero’s storyline. Lynds took on the first stage for what I like to refer to as Family Zero, writing the story of what happens while they are still in Africa, and my story “The Wolf Strain” picks up when they land in Paris, bringing that storyline to the end of a very captivating story arc.

I also have a second story in the anthology, a stand-along piece called “Ark of the Lonesome”, which follows other characters affected by the same Plague. As family is a big part of our collaborative project detailed above, I thought it would be interesting to explore characters at the other end of the spectrum, individuals with no one else in the world. They too are ruined, but their journey through the Plague might lead them to a better life.

I’m looking forward to those stories being available and will provide links when the anthologies become available. In the meantime, check out “Plague: Aftermath”, now available on Amazon: Canada US, and “Paying the Ferryman”, now available (before official release!) in the US in paperback.

Happy reading!

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Story Titles: Titling Titillating Tales

Insert Title HereFinding the perfect story title can be challenging. I struggle for days, weeks, or sometimes months, before settling on The One. I’m not sure if it’s because my stack of written stories is constantly growing higher, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find fully satisfying titles, ones that don’t keep me up at night as I strive to find something better.

I was asked this week how I came up with the title for “All of a Heap”, which was published a few days ago in Plague: Aftermath. It is a title I am proud of because as you read the story, it can be interpreted in more than one way, which is always a thrilling accomplishment.

The story had gone untitled, referenced as “the ebola story” from its origins and was still unnamed as the submission deadline loomed. I didn’t want to make the title obvious by using ebola or plague, or something relating to the missing daughter. I wanted something that represented the story well, but wrapped in subtlety.

Despite the almost deserted part of the town used as the setting (most everyone has fled to escape the deadly plague), I kept returning to the idea of a crowd because the crux of the story revolves around a collection of victims piled high on the street.

I read and re-read the story without coming up with anything satisfactory so a word association and brainstorming session followed beginning with the word “crowd”. Mob. Congregation. Herd. Confluence.

Nothing felt right so I entered the results in turn in Thesaurus.com. Rable. Posse. Great unwashed. Rank and file. Not necessarily off from what I was looking for but none of the results were le mot juste.

Then I thought of a gathering crowd. Not right, but definitely heading in the right direction. “Gathering” yielded many duplicate results from the previous searches but lower on the page there is a section on related adjectives. Most of the results posted seemed like made-up words (allemang, agminate, coacervate) but one idiom stood out from the group in all its glory as if surrounded by glowing neon arrows: all of a heap.

So thank you for your help, Thesaurus.com. “The ebola project” became “All of a Heap” and was accepted within two days of submission. I like to think the title helped propel it to the top of the…heap.

In future, when I am really at a loss for naming a story, perhaps I should consider turning to Metallica for inspiration. Their song titles are more than fitting when not in the lyrics. Enter Sandman. Welcome Home. Fade to Black. No Leaf Clover (okay, though one of my favourites, I still haven’t figured out this one yet but…“then it comes to be, yeah” so it all works out in the end).

Summer Project Update: I am hoping to submit at least two stories in the coming week, three if I can swing it by the Wednesday and Thursday deadlines, but I have a feeling the titles for those stories might not be settled yet.

WWR#1430

My story "All of a Heap" appears in the anthology Plague: Aftermath

My story “All of a Heap” appears in the anthology Plague: Aftermath

I am thrilled to report that my story “All of a Heap” is now available in the anthology Plague: Aftermath. All available formats (paperback and e-versions), as well as a preview of Aftermath, can be found through this link. In Canada, Plague: Aftermath is available through Amazon.ca.

Overview: Airborne Ebola has found a foothold in many large cities around the world, causing mass panic and mob mentality as people attempt to escape the circumstances they’re thrown into. Here are a few stories of bravery, viciousness, and survival from those trying to escape the next Plague.

Thank you to Jeremiah Donaldson at Ephiroll Productions for putting this project together and for the great collaboration. Plague: Original Cut by Jeremiah is free all week on Kindle in celebration of the Plague: Aftermath release.

I have already been approached to do a reading from “All of a Heap” at a writers’ event in Ottawa in September and will share more details when available.

 

WWR#1426 – Summertime is for…writing

Summertime 140627 My 2014 summer project is to finalize and submit as many stories as I can. (Not to be too obvious but it’s it much easier to get acceptances when stories are in an editor’s inbox rather than sitting on my desk.) I’m giving myself the week to complete my three active stories and to sift through my other short stories so I know exactly what I have to work with for the next few months.

Stories=actively working on three. 1) First things first, the priority for the next week is “All of a Heap” as I have the opportunity to tweak it before it goes to print; 2) the Wimbledon story is in its final revision stage; 3) I started a new short story about a man forced to step outside the home he’s barricaded himself into for the past eleven years (he’s a tad agoraphobic). I originally saw this one as a short flash piece but it would be a lot of fun to expand so we shall see what the first draft turns into.

Rejections=One. Walker Watcher is the story of a man stuck in an alternate Hell that includes constant walking and being submitted to watching his transgressions ad nauseam on an old tv box that accompanies him at every step, rabbit ears antenna and squeaky wheel included. This week I received a “great” personal rejection email for that story, however “great” a rejection can be. I submitted WW back in March for an anthology and had given up on it but it turns out the story made it far in the process, which is why they had not yet sent a rejection. I wasn’t sure how WW would be received because it is a bit of a gloomy odd one so the positive feedback means it will be part of the summer project so I can try to find it a home.

Critiques=One short story. I wasn’t planning on doing any crits this week but I guess it’s an itch I have to scratch. Let’s see if I can keep my resolution not to do any this coming week.

Writers’ events=Two: a short write-in session as well as a monthly social dinner with local writers. I must admit the current write-ins at the new location are a challenge for me. I work best in utter silence, with no radio or ambient noise (even the neighbouring dog’s barking really throws me off my game), so casual write-ins where there are lots of comings and goings aren’t working for me when I need to focus on reworking or developing my own stories. (Another factor is that rather than carry my 19-inch laptop to write-ins, I use a tablet, which really slows me down.) I’ve debated whether to simply abandon those write-ins but since I would probably just end up watching tv at home, I’ve accepted what they are and decided to make the best of them rather than become a recluse. I currently use that time to critique stories since I quickly recover from interruptions doing that kind of work. More importantly, I enjoy commenting editing utterly tearing apart critiquing stories, even (especially) when those stories are really bad.

Audiobook: Listening to Mirage by Clive Cussler with Jack Du Brul, and narrated by Scott Brick (who is awesome as always). The Oregon Files is by far my favourite of Cussler’s series. Though I’m getting better at writing descriptions, I always struggle with them in my stories. It’s not as easy as it seems to find the right balance between letting the reader create a mental picture on their own and writing descriptions that turn into tedious laundry lists. I find Cussler writes visual descriptions where I can easily picture everything and his analogies are vivid and relevant to the story. I’m soaking it all in while enjoying Juan Cabrillo’s latest adventure.

Writing Week in Review (#1424)

June 13, 2014

-As per my post yesterday, All of a Heap will appear in Plague: Aftermath in September. The contract is signed and delivered, now I get to work on my author bio to accompany the story;

-Received a critique on Still Daughter from the Narwhals – it was generally received as an interesting concept, a different take on zombies even if that thought never crossed my mind until someone suggested it. This is a story I started two years ago but one that’s been quite a challenge to pull together as I can’t use the daughter/zombie as the viewpoint character. We had a good group discussion on possibilities and, as I don’t yet have a clear idea on how to thread it all together, I’m letting the idea seeds planted germinate for a bit to see which ones come out of the ground;

Fossil Lake is online for critique and I am sifting through the feedback that will continue to trickle in over the next week. I plan to quickly rework the story based on feedback from this new group to submit it to my regular online group for more substantial and specific feedback. Reviews from fresh readers can help pinpoint any final hiccup before final polishing and submission. I’m aiming high with this one and want to get it just right;

-As I enjoyed the first two chapters of a novel up for critique online, I took on reviewing the entire manuscript. It’s about 100 pages and classified as horror. I ended up spending most of my free time over the past week to draft the critique and have over 200 comments and notes, mainly about characterization and lack of tension. I’ve never taken on critiquing such a long manuscript before (never more than 10k) but I found the critiquing experience very similar to short stories, except of course for the length and that the same issues appeared over 100 pages instead of 10. It was an interesting experience and I learned more about writing in the process. I’m eager to shift my focus back to my own projects and hopefully be able to look at them in a more objective light to address any similar issues in my own work before I submit the stories elsewhere.

June 12, 2014

I’m thrilled to share the news that my short story All of a Heap will appear in the anthology Plague: Aftermath, slated for release on September 1, 2014.

I first heard of the anthology in the Fall of 2013. Four stories drafted with that anthology in mind all turned into other types of post-apocalyptic stories, making them all irrelevant to Plague: Aftermath. In the end, a mere four weeks elapsed between the moment I typed the first words of All of a Heap to the story’s acceptance. Write, rework, rewrite, edit, edit some more, submit, acceptance, yeah!

The entire “behind the scenes” process relating to this anthology has been a great experience. I never expected to be consulted (or have any input) on the selection of the cover artwork, release date, and whatever else comes next – I’m enjoying every minute of it!