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I’ve had fiction accepted at a couple of venues.
It’s been a busy year creatively speaking, and there is more to come before its close.
Grey Matter Press has asked fans to pick out their favorite stories from the Grey Matter Press catalog, and so Dread: A Head Full of Bad Dreams is on its way to you, featuring yours truly with a reprint of “How To Make A Human” originally published in Ominous Realities. It’s a great line up with amazing writers. I’m still rubbing my eyes to see names like “Zelazny” and “Maberry”, along with my talented wordsmith peers like Dunham, Stone, and so many other inimitable writers.
I think any writer whose story is picked by an editor who thinks highly enough of it to publish it in a ‘zine or an anthology, is always thrilled by the prospect. But there’s something special about having fans and dedicated readers who make their voices heard. In the words of Sally Field, “You like me! You really like me!”
I also hear Grey Matter is putting out a limited 100 print run of a special hard cover edition. Looks beautiful, created by the fine sensibilities of Victor Slepushkin and you can see it here.
Table of Contents:
AMNION – John Everson (Equilibrium Overturned)
ANGIE – John F.D. Taff (Ominous Realities)
CITY SONG – Trent Zelazny and Edward Morris (Dark Visions Two)
HEIRLOOM – Michael Laimo (Splatterlands)
HOUSESITTING – Ray Garton (Splatterlands)
HOW TO MAKE A HUMAN – Martin Rose (Ominous Realities)
MARTIAL LAW – JG Faherty (Equilibrium Overturned)
MISTER POCKETS – Jonathan Maberry (Dark Visions One)
MISTER WHITE – John C. Foster (Dark Visions Two)
MOONLIGHTING – Chad McKee (Dark Visions Two)
ON THE THRESHOLD – William Meikle (Ominous Realities)
PURE BLOOD AND EVERGREEN – Bracken MacLeod (Ominous Realities)
RELEASE – Jane Brooks and Peter Whitley (Dark Visions Two)
SECOND OPINION – Ray Garton (Dark Visions One)
SHOW ME – John F.D. Taff (Dark Visions One)
THE LAST ELF – T. Fox Dunham (Ominous Realities)
THE TROLL – Jonathan Balog (Dark Visions One)
THIS IS NOT A HORROR STORY – Tim Waggoner (Equilibrium Overturned)
THROUGH THE GHOSTLANDS – Rose Blackthorn (Equilibrium Overturned)
WORMHOLE by J. Daniel Stone (Dark Visions Two)
In addition, I was pleased to hear that Sein Und Werden was nominated for a British Fantasy Award 2015 for best magazine/periodical alongside Black Static, Holdfast Magazine, Lightspeed and Interzone. Sein Und Werden pushes the envelope and everyone involved, from contributors to guest editors and head editor Rachel Kendall herself, work damn hard to make it happen, and I’m happy as hell to see Sein Und Werden on the roster there.
A think it was perhaps five years ago, a had a handful of credits to my name when Vince Liaguno let me know he wanted to publish my short story “Twilighters” in his next anthology. For the most part, I forgot about it entirely, and I’m thrilled to hear that Evil Jester Press will be publishing Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire this October.
I consider myself a writer in infancy, though I keep conquering the various hurdles in my way; as such, the TOC is humbling, and I really don’t know how I’m sandwiched between so many incredible names. I spend so much of my time pushing my ego beneath my heel, it’s hard to recognize when I’ve accomplished something; it ensures that my gratitude is never half-hearted, and I take nothing for granted.
I hope you all will enjoy my twist on what horrors the term “twilight” implies, when wielded by a sadistic hand in “Twilighter.”
Deconstructing Desire/Vince A. Liaguno
Unspeakable Desire/ Chad Helder
Fugitive Colours / Erastes
Underground / Marshall Moore
Ofrenda / Lisa Morton
Clearing Clutter / Michael Hacker
The Grief Season / Lee Thomas
Investment Opportunity / Evan J Peterson
A Soldier’s Mercy / Martel Sardina
Twilighter / Martin Rose
Tabula Rasa / Brad C. Hodson
Caldera / Helen Marshall
Bent on Midnight Frolic / Tom Cardamone
Murder on the Prurient Express / David Nickle
Rougarou / Greg Herren
Bargain Books / Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder
The Sisterhood / RB Payne
Kissyface / Stephen Graham Jones
The Shell / Norman Prentiss
Lagan / Gemma Files
a strange form of life / Laird Barron
Allow me to introduce myself. You’ll know me as Salazar, and I’m led to understand I’m the resident villain in Martin Rose’s story, “Mirrorworld” from Death’s Realm, an anthology published by an enterprising company called Grey Matter Press. Not quite what I thought I’d be known for, given all the gossip and occult practices, but they say there’s no such thing as bad press.
When Martin Rose told me I’d have to write a blog post about death and dying, I thought of Samarra. And who better to instruct you on the nature of death, than an occultist such as myself?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
A servant runs errands for his employer in the city, where he runs into Death. Terrified, he races back to his master to beg him the use of his horse, so he can run to safety in Samarra. The employer agrees, and decides to demand answers from Death himself. When he gets there, Death explains it’s all a misunderstanding, he was just shocked to see his servant in the marketplace, when he has an appointment with him later that evening in Samarra.
Like the servant in Samarra, we are always headed to our appointment. This does not require a particular belief on your part. Like the laws of thermodynamics, death persists without your consent. And death is what I want to reveal to you now.
When we talk about death, the end point of our lives, we are talking about time.
When we talk about time, we talk about light.
When we talk about light, we talk about the sun.
When we talk about the sun, we talk about planets and stars, minutes, degrees, conjunctions and orbits, ellipses and occultations.
We see our time and our place here on earth as a straight line, a horizon. As we get older, we understand a straight line isn’t very accurate. More like a circle, right? That’s the thing I hear is all the rage these days, time being circular, or a figure 8, or some other such nonsense.
That’s not true, either. Time is more like a sphere. You forget there are stars underneath you as well as above you, and anywhere you stand on a sphere is always the highest point. On the horizon, stars align with you. Like the flower that grows in a clay pot, the soil is the matter that determines the majority of your life, your health, your longevity. That’s what the universe and its stars are – the very soil we germinate within. Like the flower, we think we have free will. And like the flower, for all our free will, we aren’t free to walk out of our clay pot any time we please.
This brings us right back around to death again. Death, which we pretend isn’t there, Death, which we pretend is nothing to fuss about. And we’re right – it isn’t something to spend your time worrying about. It will come when it’s damn good and ready, and until that point, it’s really the life that becomes the tragedy, not your imminent and assured ending.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few seconds in which you will become aware that you are dying. You will know it, not as an abstract concept you can put off with another cigarette, or that sugar coated donut, or a new car, a pair of shoes, another sexual conquest. All these things give the impression of life – but is it really living? Will it matter, once you reach the finish line?
You will know death as a reality.
Time will do something funny, then; it will simultaneously speed up and slow down. Time as you know it, is racing to an end. The planets, light years beneath you, and the stars and galaxies, light years around you, are all moving in concert and spelling out the time stamp of your demise. It’s a brilliant symphony, whose song resonates beyond our ken, our vision, our sight.
Your arrival at Samarra is assured. You know you are dying. You will feel the full spectrum of emotion – panic, regret, pleasure, euphoria, relief, frustration, rage. You imagine you’ll bust apart with all these emotions battering you from the inside, and then a remarkable thing will happen.
Just like that.
It will be ordinary, and unremarkable, and anti-climactic. These senses, discriminations, biases, idiosyncrasies that came with your body and your body chemistry will fall away from you. When it does, you’ll achieve a razor sharp clarity you never had in life, in which you realize all the dumb shit you did that you should not have done. You’ll be there to see it elapse, but without panic or fear or love within you anymore, there isn’t much to do. For all intents and purposes, you’ve become a traveler at a bus station, holding a ticket in one hand, waiting.
Not very exciting, is it? That’s why I wouldn’t bother about it. All these religious wars and such that go on, you’d do much better concentrating on life itself. Because though you’ll be on that next bus out before long, the thing of it is, you only get this one particular life. You won’t even be able to take your memories with you. You have to leave your bags at the depot – even if those bags were packed with your salary, your spouse, your children, your titles, your education, your awards. All of it will be left behind.
It’s not the death we are fated to, but the life itself. The death is just incidental. You’ll forget about this blog post. Time will bury it. It will not raise a flicker in your thoughts when your appointment in Samarra comes. But you may – as you find yourself waiting at the depot – have a vague inkling that you were here before. You will be here again. And should you find that memory, time will take on a slinky effect, contracting through space to this very moment, with you poised above a screen, your finger on the button – yes, you! Right here, right now! — and you’ll realize that you are both dead and alive, at the station and right here, life and death occurring simultaneously at all points, like a turning wheel whose spokes spin so fast, each one occupies the space of the spoke before it effortlessly – like the hundred mile per hour revolutions of a planet, a star.
And then, you know what happens?
Some whiskey drinking asshole author tells you you’re fictitious character in a story, and they have a good laugh at your expense while they see the expression on your face.
Right up until you lean forward and ask, “Hey, Martin – do you ever think about who’s writing you?”
And together, we look up at the mighty and terrible stars, and wait our turn.
Grey Matter Press has initiated a blog tour for their anthology, Death’s Realm. Today is Day Two with John F.D. Taff. From the Grey Matter Press site:
Taff, author of the heartbreaking tale “Some Other Day,” featured in DEATH’S REALM: Where the Here and the Hereafter Collide, knows a little something about death, as he shows us in “Some Other Day,” a story about a father and his son attempting to deal with the pain of their new lives following the death of their wife and mother.
Taff takes on the subject of reincarnation in Let’s Get Born Again!. Find out what this noted horror author believes will happen to us after we’re gone.
Let’s Get Born Again is available at Taff’s wordpress, here.