Listen Up: “Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite” Receives Otic Makeover

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So here’s a first for me:  one of my (early-published) short stories, “Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite” (originally appearing in the summer, 2011 installment of the British Fantasy Society Journal), has been refashioned in the form of an audible episode at Max Ablitzer‘s engrossing endeavor, Horror Tales.

Horror Tales has produced a series of top-notch episodes from writers Caleb Stephens (“The Wallpaperman”), G.D. Watry (“The Mosaic”), Timothy G. Huguenin (“The Unknown Thing”), and T.E. Grau (“Transmission”).

Each episode is expressly created by Ablitzer, who invests calculating care into the crafting of each story’s transition.  All tales are accompanied by the ambient underscore of music, and textured with the swaying draperies of eerie sound effects.

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According to Ablitzer, seven episodes have been planned, with an eighth under consideration.  As of early November, 2018, Horror Tales continued to chart around the world, entering Great Britain’s “top fifty” in iTunes; and the podcast also recently attained the following impressive international iTunes standings:

  • Paraguay:  #1 (Arts)
  • Singapore:  #2 (Literature)
  • Costa Rica:  #4 (Literature)
  • United States:  #30 (Literature)

The Horror Tales Podcast submission guidelines are found here.

Dead On.

Latest installment of Dead Reckonings now available via Hippocampus Press. Review of Ghouljaw and Other Stories by Robert Butterfield: “A Tale of Two (Word)Smiths.” From the review:

“‘Dirt on Vicky’ is another standout — a mix of psychological and supernatural horror that further showcases Smith’s fine writing. Set shortly before Halloween in a small Midwestern town, the story allows Smith to demonstrate that he can capture that particular seasonal feel as well as anyone.”

Dead Reckonings 16, Fall, 2014

Scare The Dickens Out of Us, 2011

“Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?”

The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow of his bones.”

A Christmas Carol, Stave I, “Marley’s Ghost”

A little over a year ago, I had an idea for a ghost story.  This was around Halloween, several weeks after the birth of my daughter, Everly, in September, 2010.  After driving Jack down to the bus stop one overcast, October morning, I had in mind a vivid scenario:  Autumn.  Night.  Clouds, like shreds of moth-eaten cloth, overlapping a fingernail moon.  A boy (I didn’t really know what age, I saw him as being seven, maybe eight years old) standing next to his father (or stepdad) in a weed-spiked yard near a black and abandoned farmhouse.  Without warning—and to the father’s slow-reacting horror—the boy bolts forward, running across the overgrown lot, rushing headlong toward the looming, decaying structure.

That was it, really.  The germ of an idea—“the fragments of reality,” Dickens wrote of his dreams, “I…collect which helped to make it up.”  I had a narrative notion about where the tale would begin, but I really didn’t know how it would end.  And although I scribbled a satisfying conclusion later that winter, I had no idea about what to do with the story.  It seemed too understated and “serious” to pursue hardcore horror markets, and too darkly fantastic for the scrupulous eyes of literary publications.  I was lost and a little uneasy about how the story’s story would end.

Until yesterday.

I’m happy to announce that my short story, “Dirt on Vicky,” is the first-place winner of the 2011 “Scare The Dickens Out of Us” ghost story competition.  An official announcement will be made by contest coordinators, Gretchen Rix and Roxanne Rix, next weekend at “A Dickens Christmas in Lockhart” festival.  The story will then be read at a public party at the Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, on January 21, 2012.

In addition to a monetary prize, I’ll also receive a trophy.  Not too shabby.

I’ll have more news about what’s next for this story.  In the meantime, I’d like to recommend some of my all-time favorite horror stories—some horror, some ghost yarns, a few quiet classics.  But all guaranteed to be bone-chilling reading for a spooky winter’s evening.

  • “The River Styx Runs Upstream”; “Iverson’s Pits”; Summer of Night; A Winter Haunting; and Drood by Dan Simmons
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  • “The Ghostly Rental”; “The Jolly Corner”; and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “Best New Horror”; “The Black Telephone”; “20th Century Ghost”; and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • “The Bees” by Dan Chaon
  • “The Great God Pan” by Arthur Machen
  • They Thirst by Robert McCammon
  • “N.” by Stephen King
  • “The Whisperer in the Darkness” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” by HP Lovecraft
  • “Canavan’s Back Yard” by Joseph Payne Brennan

As always, dear reader, thank you for your camaraderie and support.

Black celebration: Halloween, 2011

Southside Times, October 27, 2011

Seasons grievings, dear reader.  No—it’s not a work of fiction, but my specter-centric story in this week’s edition of the Southside Times contains a spooky bit of speculation.  “Lady in black dress weaves a woeful tale” is the front page feature for October 27, 2011.  If you’re interested in picking up a hardcopy, the story will be available on local newsstands through next Wednesday (November 3, 2011).  Or check out the story by clicking on the picture at the right of this page.  Also, if you’d like to read more about the Franklin Township Historical Society, follow this link to their website: FTHS.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a pleasantly creepy Halloween.