The Lost Anthology by Galileo Press.
The Lost Anthology by Galileo Press.

“There are love stories in the underground. I’ll tell you one if you want. It’s a tired old boy meets girl, but it’s got some power to spark in the dark. You can sit and listen, can’t you? You look like you’d like a good love story.”

The other night I sat in my living room with my roommates and stared at a book in my hand.

The Lost Anthology had arrived. And inside is my first published short story ever.

The book has a gorgeous cover, designed by the talented Jeff Himmelman, who is also the designer of Kingdom of Nothing, the tabletop RPG setting in which the anthology is set. It’s published by Galileo Games, one of my favorite indie publishing houses, run by the fantastic Brennan Taylor. The volume was edited by the phenomenal JR Blackwell. Inside are short stories by many amazing writers, including my friends CJ Malarsky and Peter Woodworth.

And the first story in the book is “The Case of George the Curious” by me. It’s even got a quote from me on the back cover.

It’s a surreal thing to see your work in print for the first time. This isn’t my first publication – I’ve had a short scenario published for Cthulhu Invictus before and have had numerous blog posts and newspaper articles published over the years. Yet this story is my first short piece of fiction in a collection and right now, the book is in my hands. It hadn’t sunk in until that moment that this was a thing that happened. I’m so happy that it happened in this anthology as well. First, it was an anthology for charity for a company whose work I’ve adored for years. Also, I was around when Jeff Himmelman first started talking about Kingdom of Nothing as a game and got a chance to alpha and beta test the original tabletop, so seeing this in print now down the road from that design is a wonderful experience.

But also, I’m reminded of all the great writing coaches and teachers who pushed me along when I thought for sure that I couldn’t do it. Teachers like Helen Phillips at Brooklyn College and Maya Sloan at NYU, as well as John Adamus my ever-present editor and friend (dare I say mentor?), all made me a better writer. And because of that, this story exists.

Damn, this is starting to sound like some award ceremony speech. But victories and successes are always like that in my head, because no piece of work just came from a single person. The folks who get you there deserve the celebration as well. So thanks to all of those who helped make this moment – my first short story publication – a reality. A first achieved, bucket list item ticked off, much more to come!

I guess it can’t be called a completed piece because it just got workshopped in class, but it is almost completed, I believe. This was a departure from my usual fantasy and sci-fi writing, which I don’t do very often. I went ahead and tried to write a story that is one we’ve heard quite often: woman gets into a relationship, relationship is abusive, woman runs. But I wanted to do it with a new twist, and out came a story called “Of Ghosts and Sky.” It’s a departure for me because even the tone sounds different, turning it into something else that I haven’t really written before.

Completed (almost?): “Of Ghosts and Sky”

Word Count: 4,777

Pages: 16 (double spaced)

It’s a good feeling to get something different out there. I can’t describe exactly where the story came from, but when my roommate read it she said she nearly felt a panic attack coming on. Apparently, my work still does the heavy feeling of anxiety/horror well, even when I’m not aiming for overtly horrific, and that’s what I wanted to bring across. So I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. It’s not finished, of course – my workshop in class said I had some things to adjust to make it more effective, but I think that with some changes it can be a really effective story.

Speaking of doing effective stories: I am working my way through Stephen King’s non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, his analysis of horror in not only literature but television and film. It is right up my alley as part of my studies at college have been film and television as well as literature. I’m hoping that it gives me a better appreciation of what to look for to create more effective horror. It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of what kind of psychology and themology should be going behind every story, and where the horror in a story really comes from. I really love his analysis of classic monster/horror books such as Frankenstein and Dracula as well as his recommendations about things to go out and ready/see. I am certainly tracking down a copy of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House after everything he said.  I can’t believe the mess they made of the movie by comparison to what the book describes… though should I really be surprised?

I now have a list of stuff I need to go read, but I’m tearing my way through this book as best I can. I seriously recommend.

There is nothing in the world that can make it hard to write like being ill. Since last January I have been battling massive stomach/intestinal issues which have knocked me on my ass, coupled with the problem of ye olde migraines. And you know what I’ve found? Being sick drives the old muse away. It just kicks it right in the ass and sends it running in another direction, far far away. Today however, I managed to write something finally, and I think I may be  on a roll.

The piece was originally named ‘Anie’ and now I’m not sure what it’s called, about a Muslim immigrant woman who ends up in an abusive relationship. And you know what? It’s not about anything supernatural. AT ALL. I managed finally to knock out a story that didn’t have anything supernatural in it and I did it on a sick day, recovering from not feeling well. So hah. I can do it after all.

Final page count: 16 (double spaced)

Final word count: 4603 words

And all it took apparently was a few weeks. This is the first work I’ve done really and it feels really good. I may keep it up right now.