Would You Light Our Candle

We have really big plans. Bigger than we can currently do on our own. So, we decided to try out Patreon. This is a pretty big undertaking, and completely unlike anything we've ever done before.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you're not up for getting involved in that, all it means that we're going to be trying to post here more. But if you are interested in getting involved, it means even more interaction from us, previews of what we're working on, early access, and lots of other fun stuff as we come up with it.

So, if you want to help us out, please, please, check out the page. Share it. Pledge. Help us #PayForMurder and be at least 20% cooler.

Best New News of the Year

We want to give a great big shoutout to Tracy Fahey. She made Ellen Datlow's long list for Best Horror of the Year not once, but twice! We are particularly excited about "Under the Whitehorn", which can be found in Faed, but she also shone with "Walking the Borderlines" in Darkest Minds.

Also sending congratulations to George Cotronis and Matthew M. Bartlett. They got in with "Blackbird Lullabye" from XIII and "Rangel" respectively. 

We're so happy for all of our authors and look forward to working with many more in the future.

Reap What You've Sown

Jack and I have just finished putting the final touches on everything (we think) for Broken Worlds. The e-book is ready for its release on the 31st. You can pre-order it over at Smashwords. The paperback is running a bit behind, but should be ready in the next couple of weeks. 

This one has exceeded all of our expectations so far. We have been so blown away by the response and the great writing. You guys (and by "guys" I mean both our writers and our readers) are so awesome. 

Make sure you pick up a copy. Review it (unless you're one of the authors, get your friends to review it), and spread the word. 

We Have Our Broken World

As I begin writing this post, it is July 10th at 11:59pm. And we are done making all decisions regarding Broken Worlds. As of right now, you should've received either an email from us regarding whether or not your story will be published within the pages of Broken Worlds on July 31st. If you haven't received an email from us, please let us know through FacebookTwitter, or my contact page

Thank you to everyone who submitted. At the end of the day, we had so many great pieces that declining some was utterly painful. Unfortunately, we had to draw the line at how many pieces we could accept. (Actually, I skirted a little over that line. Which might've been bad.)

Future updates on the Broken Worlds anthology will be published through my website, this website, and all of our respective social media platforms. So make sure you're following A Murder of Storytellers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all those other places. And while you're at it, follow me, too. I always have important stuff to say.

Okay, that's not wholly true. Every once in a while I have important stuff to say. But you don't wanna miss those times!

Worlds Break in July

As the month of June comes to a close, so does our initial selection process for the short stories that will be in our newest anthology Broken Worlds. We were very excited to see the stream of submissions and thoroughly enjoyed reading this cornucopia of creative works. If we had the room to publish Broken Worlds in three or four volumes, I'm sure we'd try.

We want to thank everyone who submitted pieces to Broken Worlds. By now, all of you should have received an email from us. If you haven't, please comment below this post, on Facebook, or on Twitter to let us know because something must have gone wrong somewhere. What follows is the schedule for Broken Worlds for the month of July, leading all the way up to publication.

If you made it onto our second read list, then you'll be receiving accept or decline emails over the first week and a half of July. We expect all of our final selections to have been made by July 10th, so—again—if you haven't received an email by then please let us know through this site, my contact page, Facebook, or Twitter.

We expect Broken Worlds to officially publish—at least in e-book format—on July 31st.

So that's where we are. Thank you again for your stories, your creativity, and your support. We'll all be in touch again soon.

Open Call for Broken Worlds

It's that time again. Broken Worlds submissions begin today and end on May 31st! We want your stories, as always. We're still working with Submittable to make all of this happen, and we're all eager to see what stories you have brewing around in your heads.

Are we all about horror? Maybe a little bit, but not really. Broken Worlds caters to a large swath of stories, and I hope that your creative juices will flow. There's no doubt this will be a wonderful anthology full of very talented writers. We honestly cannot wait to read your work.

More information is available on our Submissions page.

Friday I'm in Love: Repetition

It wasn't my favorite poem, but it was written from the heart. It was called "Rainfall in Winter," and Adrean still considers it one of my best pieces. One of the things that made this poem so special is that it's in the style of a villanelle. The sing-songy style of the poem has always made Adrean want to turn it into a song.

So this is a post about what Adrean loves. I think she'll appreciate this.

Rainfall dripping from the ceiling--tin tin!
Just a pan underfoot, holding water past the brim.
But you don't do nothing till the ceiling caves in.

Twelve days of pouring rain and the sky's still grim.
No sun, no light, no star in sight, just one thick grey cloud skin.
And rainfall dripping from the ceiling--tin tin!

Friday night the roof first ripped and a few cold drops fell in.
I put out cups and pans and bucket shams to hold the water in,
But you don't do nothing till the ceiling caves in.

I saw the small wet tear and tried to lift your chin
To show you where and why the roof would soon give in.
As rainfall kept dripping from the ceiling--tin tin!

But away you'd gone while I went on and tried to patch within,
With tape and glue and plaster too through the sloshing din.
And you don't do nothing till the ceiling caves in.

You woke to the raindrops with a sense of chagrin,
And to me, soaked and dirty, a vengeful visage with a grin.
Rainfall dripped from the ceiling--tin tin!
And you didn't do nothing till the ceiling caved in.

The Great Migration

We had some website trouble. Our former server host was very nice, but not particularly helpful, so we've moved. Hopefully, you won't have noticed anything besides some a slight layout change.

However, we did have some email hiccups, it seems. Most of them seem to be dealt with now, but if you contacted us and we didn't respond, well, that's probably why. 

All Hallow's Read: Half a Hundred Halloween Haiku

Ben Jeffries (and one Sonku)

Halloween is great

Lots of spooky shit happens

We love being scared

 

The orange falling leaves

The white tombstones' bony smile

Must be Halloween

 

Spooky spiders smile

Strange silent skeletons sit

Sobbing sister screams

 

Headless Horseman howls

Haunted houses host horror

Happy Halloween!

 

Candy bag is full

Feel my bed's alluring pull

Tonight was awesome

 

Red leaves spiral down

Orange Jack-o-lanterns shine bright

Colors of the fall

 

Sharp knife, silent screams

The horror movie plays on

It's time to be scared!

 

A dark moonless night

The streetlight ahead shatters

My heart beats with fright

Running sound patters

From the dark shadows shapes loom

A specter bursts out

Will this be my doom?

My death comes, I have no doubt

This All Hallows Eve

My heart starts to freeze

For a moment I believe

The ghost's ghastly wheeze

But here's the deceit

It's just a kid in a sheet

He shouts, "Trick or Treat!"

 

CJ Miles IV

Pumpkins glare steadfast

Spirits of flame waltz inside

Steps guided by wind

 

Legions of undead

Vampires, zombies, ghouls and ghosts

Seek candy, not brains

 

Keep the porch light on

To turn away guests is rude

On the spirit’s night

 

Halloween is great

Knights and ninjas and witches

All for the same cause

 

Never fear the dark

Gourds light the way with warm smiles

Monsters cannot hide

 

They stay in the light

Disguised, same as you and I

To see how we live

 

They crash our parties

Knock on doors, take our candy

Always the best dressed

 

When all lights are out

The monsters return to dark

And wait for next year

 

Shadows spread slowly

Cowardly covens convene

Fey forage for fright

 

Disguise yourselves, friends

Monsters confuse easily

Won’t eat their own kind

 

They’ll invite you home

Under the bed, in closets

Snack on fear and dreams

 

You can scare with ghosts

Run with wolves, hang with vampires

But be home by dawn

 

Sunrise closes doors

Separates our worlds again

Clears their monster minds

 

Then you’re all alone

Surrounded by predators

No nightlight, no home

 

So be wary, friends

Keep company with monsters

But never for long

 

Falling leaves and rain

Filling up my candy bag

This Halloween sucks

 

Jack-o’-lanterns grin

Candles sputter and go out

Witching hour is here

 

Something lurks behind

Breaking twigs, scattering leaves

Fills my heart with fright

 

Run, fast as I can

Somewhere bright and warm and safe

Have to get away

 

Found the sidewalk’s end

Off the path now, branches swipe

I am still pursued

 

What is chasing me?

I look over my shoulder

I wish I hadn’t

 

The tall man follows

Grinning madly, knives for teeth

In his eyes, my doom

 

Slip on mud and roots

Fall hard into wicked thorns

Nettles like needles

 

The maniac stops

Cackling like a hyena

This is a poor joke

 

His long arms hang low

Sharp claws leave trails in the mud

They reach through the brush

 

The trap has worked well

Predator, soon to be prey

Tricked chasing a treat

 

Vines and roots close in

They wrap around the tall man

Strong, thick as serpents

 

Madness fades to fear

His laughter turns into shrieks

Ivy pulls him down

 

Rain becomes drizzle

The copse of trees is silent

Tall man met his fate

 

Clear skies, falling leaves

Full moon, the only witness

My annual trick

 Adrean Messmer

Props

Body on a rope

the smoke machine hides the smell

those who pass think trick

 

Fear in Fugue

Full dark, moon no sun

You are scared but cannot run

Look out, here they come

 

Red Crayons

Rose forever writes

lines and lyrics all in red

warm arterial spray

 

Who do?

Tiny stitches show

gooey guts seep out from in

pin pricks, needle sticks

 

Tomorrow Never Comes

A fortune teller

glass box, quarter in coin slot

blank paper, nothing, end

 

Double Dog Dare

Little Sophie Chase

Bloody Mary stole her face

Young life gone to waste

 

36 Degrees

Today, woke up dead

shambling harder than I thought

heart, brains, gone to rot

 

 The Porchlight is On

Candy bowl, alone

left on the step with a sign

"take one," I take five

 

Motivational Monday: All Hallow's Read

Good evenin', everyone, and Happy Halloween Week! Here at Murder, this time of year is like our Christmas; there's candy and decorations, and we come together to check out haunted houses and enjoy an annual murder mystery among friends. And this year, we decided to share a little bit of excitement with all you wonderful people. First, like the title says, we're participating in All Hallow's Read, and are sharing our own horror stories with you. Our first group anthology, Happy Days Sweetheart, is free on Amazon's Kindle through Halloween! If you haven't picked it up yet, you have no excuse now!

Seriously, how good is this even?

The second bit of celebration is a promise, folks. Even though it's our Christmas, you guys get the gifts... of more us. Every day this week, we're promising a post every day, either with the day's scheduled content, or with some other spooky short stories, just for you.

Now, onto the actual post, as it's not technically late: Motivational Monday!

For those of you in the know, National Novel Writing Month is less than a week away, and it is pretty intimidating. For those who've never heard of it, the idea is that you write 50,000 words - the length of a short novel - starting November 1st and ending the 30th. It averages out to just under 1,700 words a day, and every day you hope you're a little ahead of where you need to be, which, in my experience, never happens.

I've attempted it every year since 2008, and have won (finished) once in that time, which is pretty impressive, I guess? But I'm a sore loser, and this year I won't settle for shame so easily. So this year, I'm plotting. I'm outlining and prewriting (in my head! I'm not a cheater!) and thinking long and hard on the words I want to put on the page, before I ever get that far. This is the first year I've actually sat long enough to think about it before it started, and it's given me this really good feeling, like it's not some unconquerable word mountain, but instead several smaller word chunks, like it's supposed to be.

And really, that's all it's taken for me to get excited about it. One good idea, and then following the advice that every writing teacher I ever had told me. I'll be the first to admit I've been in a long writing slump, and I'm not optimistic to think I'm all the way out of it yet, but, who knows.

So, readers (assuming you've made it this far), what about you? Interested in NaNo? How do you motivate yourself to start a daunting project? Are you like Adrean, do you have to trick yourself with treats?

Stay awesome, guys, and keep your eyes on the page for the rest of this week's updates. And, in case I don't write another post before then, Happy Halloween!

How To-sday: Murder

The Murder is the meat part of the method. Ideally, the reader has already received and read the piece, so the page is all bloody. This is the part where the reader gets to the author why it's all red. But there's a catch. There's always a catch. The thing about critique is that it can go downhill fast. Criticism can be hard to hear, no matter how well-intentioned it is. For that reason, when giving your opinion on something, you must first get permission.

For that reason, you should come up with a title or summary for each one. Something like, "I have an opinion about the accuracy of your science and meteors" or "I have an opinion titled 'Faeries and ghosts and trolls, oh my'". Make sure it's enough for the author to understand what the opinion is about without actually giving it.

Sometimes, an opinion is unwanted so there's no point in even talking about. Like that thing about science and meteors? I'd done the research and math, but I knew if I got too realistic with it, I'd have no story. So, we didn't talk about it. We moved on to the next thing.

During this time, the only thing the writer is to do is say yes or no to opinions. If they try to argue or explain everything, this section could take days. Also, as the writer, remember that you won't be there to explain to your readers.

As a reader, it's best if you write down your opinions. That way, the author can go back and read them all later, even the ones they didn't hear during the meeting. It's great to talk about them though because the writer can see who agrees with what and get clarification. Just remember to be nice to each other. Watch out for your fellow writers getting overwhelmed and back down. It's best to have a moderator who can keep an eye for that.

And, writers, remember, at the end of the day it's your words and your story. You never have to make any changes that you're not comfortable with. The goal here is to help everyone improve, not just as writers, but as readers too.

Good luck and don't get blood all over your shoes.