Kindle and paperback via Amazon
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.
From Grey Matter Press’s website:
Author Jay Caselberg begins the 16-day DEATH’S REALM Death and Dying Tour with a very special guest post on the Grey Matter Press website — his short story “Early,” based on a terrifying personal experience with the dead.
Caselberg’s “Early,” while a work of fiction, is based on a real-life encounter with a ghost. We greatly appreciate the fact that Jay was willing to give away this piece and thank him for sharing it with us to begin the tour.
Enjoy “Early” by Jay Caselberg, and make sure to check out his “Penumbra,” a tale of true love gone very, very wrong that is featured in DEATH’S REALM: Where the Here and the Hereafter Collide.
Check out Jay Caselberg’s story here.
Everyone, welcome Jay Caselberg to the blog. I’m featuring fellow contributors to Death’s Realm, of Grey Matter Press, with a short mini-interview to learn more about the talent involved, a preview of what we can expect from their story, and speculate on what lies ahead in the great beyond.
Me, I’m Australian, though I have lived in Europe for a number of years now, traveling around for day job related stuff. I spent time growing up in various countries as well. Despite all that, I still retain an essential component of the Australian psyche, or so I believe, and it tends to seep through into the fiction. Embedded in the Australian subconscious is the sense of removal, of separation from the rest of the world, because, you know, from most places, it is a long long way away. Anyway, I always thought I’d turn out to be a scribbler and I read and wrote as I was growing up. Then, at an impressionable age, I stumbled across a book on how to write a novel. Within those pages was a piece of the worst advice I have ever heard: you cannot write a book till you are over forty because you don’t have the life experience to make it real. What rubbish. Anyway, taking that to heart, it caused me to stumble. Much later, I happened across on online forum that acted as a kind of virtual critique group and suddenly, it was as if the world had opened up. I’d had no dealings with other aspirants until that stage and about then, I realised that I was probably good enough. I wrote a few stories, sent them out and the first one I sent out, a little science fiction tale with a pretty dark edge sold within a couple of months.
Although I write and have written novels, science fiction, horror, literary and even YA fantasy most of my work is short fiction and generally, it tends to be what I would characterise as soft horror, more the psychological, but none the less dark for that. Literature, ultimately, is about the human condition, and the inside of people’s heads is often a dark and squirmy place. I like playing with that.
Gray Matter Press has released an anthology, Death’s Realm, featuring your work, “Penumbra.” Give us a preview of your short story without giving away too much.
The concept for “Penumbra” is what happens to someone who is deeply, madly in love, and they die. What efforts would one go to to keep that bond alive even though you may not be.
The premise behind Death’s Realm is what happens after death. If there is a great beyond, what do you imagine it to be?
I’m not a great believer in a great beyond per se. I have no vision of heaven or hell. I do believe that there is something there. I have seen and experienced too many things to accept that there is simply nothing, things that defy normal everyday explanation. Despite that, I am not going to sign up to any orthodox set of rationalisations that make the less certain feel more certain. For me, it’s not about faith or anything else. Sure, there’s something going on there. You just need to be able to live with it.
Well, I was born in Sleepy Hollow but raised in a small New Hampshire town, and despite the fact that any number of teachers told me (in so many words) that I was a writer, I never believed it to be “real” until I hauled stakes for Los Angeles at age 20, determined to be a screenwriter despite never having seen a screenplay – or Los Angeles for that matter. I did write screenplays on the side while building up a PR and marketing career, but I discovered that I didn’t really want to write what my agents and managers wanted me to write – or what the studios wanted to make. It wasn’t until I got to New York City that I realized what my real problem was: I was focused on being a writer and all the accoutrements that come with it, not on the writing itself.
Boom, that epiphany (yeah, I said “epiphany”) was like a caveman discovering fire and I focused intently on my craft, reading everything I could get my hands on, learning about the myriad of small presses, and writing-writing-writing. I went from someone who could only write when I was alone, everything quiet and the muse upon me to a guy who could plant his ass on a loading dock and crack open his laptop with all of NYC squalling a few feet away.
Gray Matter Press has released an anthology, Death’s Realm, featuring your work, “Burial Suit.” Give us a preview of your short story without giving away too much.
This is the second story I’ve done with Grey Matter Press and I’m ecstatic at how damned good the books look. The story in Death’s Realm is entitled “Burial Suit” and deals with a man recently released from prison who learns of his father’s death and sets off with his dad’s favorite suit for the burial. And because he has certain dark preparations in mind to care for old dad in the afterlife, he’s also carrying a pistol, electrician’s tape and his cat, The Loose.
There are so many good writers in this collection, I’m flattered to have “Burial Suit” nestled in with their work.
The premise behind Death’s Realm is what happens after death. If there is a great beyond, what do you imagine it to be?
I don’t believe in any religious concept of an afterlife, although with half an hour and a pitcher of beer I can compose an argument in which various ideas might be “true” in a sense. I do believe that there is an energy to us that may move on to some other level of existence or perhaps return to the universe – much in the way our physical remains break down and return their constituent components to the earth. I also believe, particularly at night when I’m alone, that some of that energy may linger for a reason, perhaps a powerful trauma, and encountering such a lingering presence scares the hell out of me.