Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

horrorWell, it’s been a long haul. Been dealing with some stuff. (See last blog entry.) But somewhere in there, the Oct. 31 release date for my short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take Requests,” crept up on me. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to blow the dust off this blog and post something. A while back, I found some two-sentence horror stories on the web. Here’s an example:

“The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.”

Here are some more.

Since then, I’ve made kind of a Halloween tradition of posting my own two-sentence horror stories every year. This is the 2016 edition. Be forewarned. Bone-chilling terror awaits:

  • “Don’t apologize to me for your foul mouth,” my new cubicle-mate says. “Apologize to Jesus.”
  • A new congressman is elected in your district. InfoWars endorsed him.
  • “I’ll be here for the next four weeks,” the contractor says. “Have you heard the one about the two blacks and a Jew in the gay bar?”
  • Your daughter says things are getting serious with her boyfriend. He has a “9/11 Was an Inside Job” bumper sticker on his car.
  • “We’ll get started in just a minute,” the woman at the front of the room says. “But first, we have a fun team-building exercise for you.”
  • I hand her my phone to show her the picture I just took. She starts scrolling through the rest of my pictures.
  • “Welcome to ’90s night!” the DJ says. “Who remembers the Macarena?”

 

philconGreat weekend! I spend most of it at PhilCon — the Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference. Actually held in Cherry Hill, N.J. But I guess PhilCon is too august a name to change lightly. This event has been going on in one form or another since 1936.

In the near future, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about different elements of it in greater detail. Geez, I got enough material there for a year’s worth of blog entries. And I got the contact info for a lot of people I intend to be interviewing here — after reviewing their works, in a lot of cases. So stay tuned.

Anyway, I was very impressed. Up to now, I haven’t really been big on conventions. As I’ve mentioned here many, many times, I love science fiction, horror and fantasy. And I certainly don’t want to put down the means by which anyone chooses to enjoy them. Hey, it’s a big tent. Glad everyone’s here.

Still, I’m just not into the obsessive parsing of specific TV shows and movies that seems to characterize a lot of fandom. And I had this image in my mind that the convention scene has a lot of that.

I was pleasantly surprised, though. PhilCon seemed to have a very pronounced emphasis on the literary side of science fiction, which I appreciated.

Hell, I walked through the door of the hotel and momentarily wondered if I was in the right place because the lobby wasn’t packed with people in outlandish costumes. The I looked to my right and saw Gardner Dozois — legendary writer and editor — hanging out at one of the hotel restaurant tables. The guy’s been one of my heroes since I was a kid. After suppressing a “SQUEEEE!” worthy of a 14-year-old girl who’s just spotted One Direction, I wandered over, told him I was a big fan, and asked if he could point me toward the convention.  Mr. Dozois, who proved to be every bit as cool as I could have hoped, did so.

So my convention experience started out good, and pretty much stayed there the entire weekend. I think I might end up attending more conventions.

Like I said, I plan to blog about it more. But I’m kind of tired and about to crash, so I’ll get to that later. Time to dream pleasant dreams stoked by the endorphin rush I’m still riding.

ZZZZZZZZ! What’s that, Mr. Dozois? You say you want to edit an anthology of my short stories with introductions by Joe R. Lansdale and Neil Gaiman? Why … I’m flattered. ZZZZZZZZZ!

 

Hubble1This piece originally appeared in the quarterly newsletter for the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, which I edit. I thought it would be of benefit to the science fiction writers in our group. But I think horror writers could find plenty of material here. Bottom line — the existence of alien lifeforms in the universe is pretty much a statistical certainty. And they’re probably a lot more like something out of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination that Gene Roddenberry’s. *Shudder* By the way, the eye-popping photos that accompany this are from the Hubble Telescope.

 

Unfathomable Distances, Unfriendly Locals

By Tom Joyce

Editor’s note: Ray Villard is news director for the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope. He’s also the former associate editor of “Astronomy” magazine, an editorial contributor to Discovery Channel, and the author of numerous articles for magazines, encyclopedias and Internet blogs, and scripts for several syndicated science programs on public radio.

Ray Villard is a science fiction fan himself, so he understands why writers for page and screen sometimes do

what they do. Maybe they just need to tell an entertaining story. And it’s not like 1960s-era Star Trek had a multimillion dollar CGI budget at its disposal for rendering alien lifeforms.

Still, he can’t help but get irritated sometimes at science fiction in which the writers seem to have no familiarity whatsoever with the scientific phenomenon they’re ostensibly writing about. (more…)

horrorA couple of years ago, I found some truly terrifying two-sentence horror stories on the Internet. I decided to try writing a few of my own. Now, for Halloween, I present another batch. And once again, you may want to avoid reading them if you have a heart condition.

The meeting starts in five minutes. The office copier says “CALIBRATE COLLATION DENSITY PARAMETERS.”

I accept my father-in-law’s friend request. Five minutes later, he posts his first racist joke on my timeline.

“You thought this was a date?” she says. “Oh gosh.”

“I like to think of my poetry as ‘anarcho-conceptualist,'” he said. “Let me explain.”

“You have a choice,” the wedding reception bartender says. “Coors or Coors Light.”

Your new supervisor likes playing music at work. He’s into rap metal.

You accidentally make eye contact with the loud, drunk guy at the bar. He smiles and begins approaching you.

You turn on the light in the Motel 6 bathroom. There are short, curly hairs in the sink.

“Let me tell you about our rewards program,” the cashier says. You take a frantic look at your watch and try to tell her you aren’t interested, but she presses on anyway.

I look across the restaurant and spot a fat, older guy. I realize it’s a mirror.

You complete the 20-page online form and hit “SEND.” Your screen locks up.

“First of all, I apologize that we’re running so much longer than we anticipated,” the guy at the front of the room says. “Now we have a Powerpoint presentation for you.”

 

My apologies. The blog’s been dormant for a while. A bunch of stuff came up — primarily a new job — and I was obliged to put it on the back burner. But I’d like to start it back up. So how about I begin with a new, original novelette, presented to you for free?

Here’s the deal. I have a young, talented friend named Frank who portrays a character known as “Cuddles McSpanky” at haunted attractions. He knows I’m a writer. At a recent party, we got into a discussion about our mutual love of horror and noir. And we agreed that it might be fun if I tried writing a story featuring his character. I found myself really getting into it. To my surprise, the short story I initially intended to write somehow expanded into a novelette.

I tried including it in my short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take No Requests,” due out from Codorus Press early in 2016. But my publisher told me we’re a bit late in the process for that.

So I figured, what the heck. I wrote it mainly as a fun project anyway. And I’d like Frank to be able to share it with his friends and followers. So here it is, presented as a freebie. Enjoy. Share it, if you’re so inclined. And if you like it, keep an eye out for “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take No Requests.” Or check out my Pushcart-Prize-nominated debut novel, “The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report.” You can find Cuddles McSpanky’s page here. And if you’re REALLY brave and/or crazy, you can go see him in person here.

For the record, this is a work of fiction and is not intended maliciously. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any other resemblance to actual events, groups or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

So here goes:

 

THE LEGEND OF CUDDLES MCSPANKY

By Tom Joyce

Based on a character created by Frank Paul Staff IV

 

 

Somewhere in the night-darkened pines to Kevin’s left, chainsaws buzzed like mechanical hornets. Followed by screaming.

Startled, a cluster of girls in Kevin’s group let out screams of their own, giggling at themselves immediately afterward. The Trail of Terror at the BloodShed Farms haunted attraction in Pierce Township, N.J., followed a snaking trajectory, frequently turning back on itself. Intermittent cries from the densely encroaching pines on either side signaling that the group ahead had encountered whatever as-yet-unseen horror would ambush Kevin’s group next, be it zombie, vampire or psychopath.

An unnerving effect, Kevin had to admit, jangling his already jangled nerves.

Kevin trailed behind a dozen or so teens and adults venturing through October darkness punctuated by pale lights on poles set at infrequent intervals along the paved path. Wishing that the night’s errand was already over. He yanked the brim of his baseball cap down lower on his forehead and pulled the hood of his sweatshirt tighter about his face.

(more…)

AddisonNote: The following material ran in a recent issue of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers quarterly newsletter, which I edit. Here’s the fifth part of the piece, along with my original introduction.

Several things inspired me to put this project together. But mainly, it’s because I still frequently encounter the tiresome “nerdy boys club” stereotype regarding speculative fiction writers and readers. The widespread perception that our branch of literature is the domain of emotionally and socially stunted man-children who don’t want icky girls in their club unless they happen to be wearing skimpy cosplay outfits at conventions.

I think it’s important that we speculative fiction writers do everything in our power to help dispel that stereotype, and make it clear that women are a major, vital and respected part of our community. So I reached out to a number of prominent woman science fiction, fantasy and horror authors and editors, and invited them to share their perspectives.
Tom Joyce

Linda Addison is the award-winning author of four collections of poetry and prose and the first African-American recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award®. She has published over 290 poems, stories and articles and is a member of Circles in the Hair, Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and Science Fiction Poetry Association. See her site: www.lindaaddisonpoet.com, for more information.

My first publication was in 1994. At that time I considered changing my name to L.D. Addison so it wasn’t obvious that I was a woman. I decided not to use an alias. Today there are more women writing speculative fiction than twenty years ago.
I’ve always seen myself as an author first, then any other labels are acceptable: woman writer, African-American writer, African-American woman writer. Through my eyes I see myself writing the stories and poems that come to me. It just so happens my imagination always went outside the realm of reality-based writing. I’m blessed to represent women writing weird stuff, always will be.

Rena MasonNote: The following material ran in a recent issue of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers quarterly newsletter, which I edit. Here’s the third part of the piece, along with my original introduction. I’ll be running contributions from the other writers who participated in the days ahead.

Several things inspired me to put this project together. But mainly, it’s because I still frequently encounter the tiresome “nerdy boys club” stereotype regarding speculative fiction writers and readers. The widespread perception that our branch of literature is the domain of emotionally and socially stunted man-children who don’t want icky girls in their club unless they happen to be wearing skimpy cosplay outfits at conventions.

I think it’s important that we speculative fiction writers do everything in our power to help dispel that stereotype, and make it clear that women are a major, vital and respected part of our community. So I reached out to a number of prominent woman science fiction, fantasy and horror authors and editors, and invited them to share their perspectives.
Tom Joyce

Rena Mason is the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of “The Evolutionist” and “East End Girls.” A former O.R. nurse, an avid SCUBA diver, world traveler, and longtime fan of horror, sci-fi, science, history, historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers, she writes to mash up those genres with her experiences in stories that revolve around everyday life. For more information on this author visit her website: renamasonwrites.com

As Robert Heinlein didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a sci-fi author, not all female speculative fiction authors are also writing some form of romance, paranormal or otherwise. With more organizations and companies promoting women, such as Women in Horror Month highlighting women in all aspects of horror, Nightmare Magazine’s “Women Destroy Horror” issue, Eli Roth’s The Crypt app highlighting women in horror, and the Horror Writers Association offering scholarships for women horror writers, along with more women stepping up to support one another in representing the genre rather than using a more popular or more accepted label for their works, women’s roles in the genre can only improve.