Tag Archives: short stories

First of all, for any readers of this blog in the NYC area, I’ll be going to Black and White (86 E. 10th St, btw 3rd and 4th Ave.) to participate in the readings starting at 8pm this Sunday. Who knows what I’ll read.

But who am I kidding. I think I know all my readers by name, and most of you live out of state.

More importantly, last night I compiled all the pieces of the first draft of “Seal,” which is the second short story in my 12 months, 12 stories project for 2013.

Today, I’ve been wondering how I feel about it. I think I feel good, but I can’t escape a crippling sense of depression. Maybe it’s my standard post-partum; maybe it’s something else. I feel super-critical of the piece right now (the story centers around a mom who doesn’t want to be a mom, and writing a horror story about that strikes me now as potentially terribly sexist, which was exactly the opposite of my intent), and perhaps the sadness of having fallen short of my own goals is what’s at work on me right now.

Or maybe I’m just tired. It’s been a long couple of days.

But now I’m going to let this one sit and go back to “Sprachlos” for another draft before March comes around the corner and I start work on “Special Formats Processing.”

This summer, I submitted a new short story, “Variable,” for the How Stuff Works writing contest. Of the 104 valid submissions, “Variable” was selected as one of the sixteen stories to go head-to-head in a bracket-style competition. It’s naturally my hope that you’ll all go and vote for “Variable,” but really — you should just go and check out the stories and vote for whichever you feel is best.

Here’s the link:

Many thanks for those who take the time to vote!

It really seemed like my horse was telling me he liked Beethoven, so, figuring what the hell, I went to the shed, dug out the ol’ Victrola, and set it up by the stable.

“Symphony or sonata?” I asked, flipping through dusty records in an old pine box. The horse just twitched its tail. I didn’t find that to be entirely scrutable, so I put on the 9th, because what the fuck, might as well start with the classics. I got it going, then went back to sit in my chair beside him and look down the field to the river.

There we sat, listening to the 9th while the day started. Sun was good, bright and warm. I put my hand up on the horse’s neck, gave it a solid pat because I was feeling better and better about this new and extraordinary friend of mine and the time we were spending with ol’ Ludwig. Marveled again at the feel of horsehair on horsehide–warm and complete beneath a hand with a real meant-to-be feel to it.

My horse let me know he was having a great time. I let him know I was, too. Pretty perfect way to spend a morning, we both agreed.

Later on, Mavis came by. “You listenin’ to Beethoven?” he asked.

“That we are,” I said.

“We? You mean, you and … you and your horse? You and your horse are listening to Beethoven?”

I pointed at the horse. “He likes it. Ask him.”

Mavis sort-of laughed, like he thought I was kidding, or making some joke. He ran his finger along the Victrola. “Where did you find this old thing?”

“In the shed. Don’t touch it,” I said, and the horse whinnied and shook its goddamned head right in Mavis’s direction. I couldn’t stop laughing about that. I couldn’t stop feeling like me and that horse, we were gonna be in it together, riding down the dust until all the sun was gone.

Well, Mavis took the hint and shuffled off. I heard he started calling me an asshole sometime after that. Might’ve asked him about it, but he stopped coming around, anyway.

Me? Shit, to this day I can’t listen to the fucking 9th–or anything else by ol’ Ludwig, for that matter. It still hurts, what happened later.

I still miss those mornings.

I still miss that horse.

From today, Dec. 15, through Saturday, Dec. 17, the Kindle/Kindle Fire ebook version of I Held My Breath as Long as I Could will be available on Amzaon for free.

Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell anyone with an Amazon ebook reader.

I’m willing to bet there’s at least one story in there for everyone.

Don’t miss out!

3x6 Cover

3x6: A Collection of Three Stories

To say thank you to everyone who bought and read my collection, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could, I’m pleased to offer a very short bonus collection of three 600-words-or-less short stories, 3×6. Included are:

“A Life of Their Own”: Satan’s latest attempt to get a child hits a snag.

“Embrace the Ground”: A vicious alien allows a man a last glimpse at the home in which he grew up.

“The Art of the Dead”: A man attends the funeral of a good friend.

These were all written as entries in’s recent short story contest. Since refuses to allow me to sell anything for free, I’ve chosen to publish this through Lulu, and to simply give away copies of the ebook (in .mobi format for Kindle and Kindle Fire and .epub for iPad, iPhone, and Nook) from my own website.

Hope you enjoy these!

Got another one in the rejected-by-McSweeney’s and the 600-words-or-less department. There really shouldn’t have been room for overlap there, since does not do short stories, as I was told this morning when the piece was rejected.

Oh well. This one is funny.

Available on now, assuming, once again, that it will eventually make its way to Amazon and others.


Embrace the Ground

Looks like I’m going to bail on NaNoWriMo plans this year. Sorry to say it, but the ideas just weren’t there this year. Rather than force a half-baked idea, I’ve decided to focus on some short story goals and editing Ed at Eleven.

As far as the short stories go, I’ve set my sights on publication in Cemetery Dance and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And then there’s my project, where every week I send them a new submission as soon as they reject the previous one (in my head, I call this “Andy Dufresne-ing” the editors).

Last night, I noticed there’s a contest on for the month of November. Publish a 600-words-or-less story through Lulu, and you can enter their short story contest. Prize is a Nook and $500. I figured I might as well, since I Held My Breath as Long as I Could featured a lot of stories around that length, and I’ve sort of gotten used to the format. Last night, I submitted my first entry, “Embrace the Ground,” available now for free on Lulu. Presumably it will eventually find its way to Amazon and iTunes. In the meantime, keep checking back here for news on additional free stories. I’m aiming to write somewhere around five of these pieces this month. Little snacks for the faithful (e)readers out there.

Maybe you’re one of the people who wondered why I Held My Breath as Long as I Could started off with one of the worst stories. Maybe you want to know more about why someone would self-publish. Maybe you’re just bored and have nothing better to do. Whatever the case, the following is an interview examining and explaining the thoughts behind the stories included in an admittedly strange collection.


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I’m a lone banana, and I’ve got the whole box to myself.

Someone wanted me. Just me. And off I’ve been sent, in this big old box, which I guess is the smallest one the people who sent me could find.

It wasn’t always like this. Time was, I had a whole BUNCHA friends. They’re gone now, and it’s just me. Just me in my big box. I never did think I’d have it so good, but a banana can really stretch out here and bounce around.

It’s really the most fun I’ve ever had.

I know there will come a time when I’ll be shoved in someone’s bag, carried to work, and eaten on the way to gym, but for right now, I’m bouncing, sliding, sliding, bouncing–living the large box lifestyle.

People think they know what it’s like because they’ve lost friends before, but this is different. Straws wasn’t just any old friend. It’s not like I can find him on Facebook now, you know? There’s no way to reach him, ever–no phone number, no address, I don’t even know where he is, really–where he’s from.

I’ll tell you what makes it so bad: it’s that when he was here, it was the single most incredible time of my life. But when that happens, you don’t think it’s just going to end. You don’t think that it’s only going to last a couple weeks. You think it’s forever, that your life’s going to go on being more and more awesome. You feel touched. Blessed. You don’t think at all, not one bit, about how you’re gonna get sad and drunk some night at a bar and your girlfriend’s gonna ask you why you’re crying and you’re going to be stupid enough to tell her everything and say, “Meredith, I’m depressed and feel like life isn’t worth living, because when I was a kid I was friends for a little while with an alien.”

Girlfriends just don’t understand. Sooner or later, I always tell them, and then they get that look–the one that says, “Oh, I get it now. Why you’re single. Why you were hospitalized.”

What? Oh, no, see, there you go, thinking about Hollywood shit, thinking about E.T. and Mac and Me. Well, it wasn’t like that exactly–Straws never made my bike fly across the moon or caused a sudden dance party in a McDonald’s–but it was still a thrill to be near him. Straws was telepathic, and he would share visions with me of other planets he’d visited, and I thought he’d take me to some of them someday, but now even thinking about those things he shared with me is painful. He never took me anywhere. He just left one day. The government didn’t chase him off, either, and he didn’t die from anything; he just showed up one day and left another. I can’t even watch those other movies, because they make me angry. I keep wishing it was something else, something explicable that made Straws leave.

Fucking movies. Everything’s always better in the movies. Let me tell you, it’s painful to live something they made a movie about if your version isn’t as good.

People say I’m needy. That I have too much trouble enjoying things for what they are. I’m even too bitter to read news about the space program. When the Space Shuttle made its last flight, I was ecstatic. I’m so angry about space and all that stuff it ruins my whole day whenever I hear anything about it on the news or whatever.

Whatever’s out there, it can stay out there for all I care. To hell with Straws.

Ok, fine, you’re right. I wish he’d come back. I’d give anything. I really would.

Great, now I’m crying again.