About Me

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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas time!

Well, it is yule time, and we have certainly been busy. I did manage to finish the novel: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, by Susanna Clarke. It was fantabulistic. Really not a quick read, but the novel becomes fantastically engrossing with its rich and complex characters and history. I recommend this to all fantasy fans. In fact, I've also been listening to her follow up anthology of short fiction: The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I think I have a new person for my list of favorite all-time authors. Well, I thought I would record some of my favorites so that if anyone needs something to read...

All-time favorite writers- these always entertain me:

1. Stephen King
2. Ray Bradbury
3. Dan Simmons
4. Douglas Adams
5. John Steinbeck
6. Sussana Clarke
7. J. R. R. Tolkein

These are some novels that had magic, that changed and transformed my thinking (but not by the authors above):

1. Watership Down
2. Lord of the Flies
3. The Man who was Thursday
4. Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
5. 1984
6. Tigana
7. Frankenstein
8. I am Legend

Well, I'm sure there are more, but that will do for now. I just got a rejection that said that the editor reviewed my story a bunch of times, but, in the end, it was the last to be cut from the book. I don't know if I should be depressed or complimented.

Have a happy holiday, and spread love and cheer,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Seeing my book in print

Well, the reading never came to fruition. I should have figured. It was too much for us to organize with the five children and everything else on our plates. This is not really a time for writing or anything else for that matter.

I have always dreamed of seeing my name in print and walking into my library, the bookstore I worked in to see the book containing my novel or story on the shelf.

The regional library was closed to the public last June. Governer Douglas decided that a public library was not free market enough an idea for him and did his best to end it. Now, we can't get books out or peruse the shelves unless we are home schoolers or a school library. We can't afford to be a home schooler, so...

The store I worked in and met my wife in closed a number of years ago.

But, the upside is the librarian at my high school library bought a copy. It is going on the shelf this month. Don't know if kids will read it, but it is cool to see it in the Short story collection!

I am looking forward to the publication of my story, "The Dragon Wager" in March!


The darkness before the dawn

Well, it is the dark time. It's funny, some of my favorite people were born during this time. I hope lots of ideas will be germinated for me. Certainly, not a lot of writing has been done. Just as soon as school started, my boy got really arthritic again, then I got sick, then the holidays have hit, with all the gatherings and obligations. There is also the dark.

I don't know if it is chemical, or the natural cycle of the creative process. My thoughts have a harder time focusing in on any one idea during this time of year. In my experience the writing starts to throttle back up around February. That's why I have decided to put the writing aside until then, enjoy the family, read as much as I can, and not let the barrage of rejections alarm me.

I also still could edit. And I will, but after editing forty response to lit essays, it is difficult to dive into a eight hundred page editing job.

I have watched a great movie, entitled: World's Greatest Dad, it is starring Robin Williams, as a frustrated writer and teacher with a over-the-top frustrating teenager at home. Wow, did I love this one. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a twisted sense of humor and wants to enjoy a truly human experience in film.

I'm hoping everyone who happens to read this little blog, a happiest of holidays and a safe and productive new year.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A philosophical thought

"Nothing is real; and nothing to get hung about." John Lennon and Paul McCartney

I was thinking this morning about illusion. The thing about gnostic thought that aligns most with my intuit understanding of the world is that everything is an illusion. I'm not, of course, an illusion, at least, not that observer, that inner spark that looks out at the illusion and sees what is indicated that is false and what is real. Anyone who has fallen in love knows that the other people around us aren't illusions, however many illusions we put in front of ourselves or trick ourselves into believing about ourselves.

What if it is all an illusion? That would mean the only real thing is us. If that is true how precious is each and every one of us. We are like the stars dropped into a vast empty space and yet we light the night, we guide sailors to harbor, we have the future written in the vast networks we make in the night sky, we help mystics find the christ child. Extended metaphor aside: if we could only see life like this all the time, life itself would change...

How could we be cruel to each other, lose sight of each other's humanity, when all we have that is real is each other? How could we become confused that money or race, or anything else is more important than our fellows.

Also: as a fantasy writer I think I am constantly subconciously playing with the idea that all is an illusion. The federal reserve is an illusion, yet if enough people believe in it, it becomes some kind of illusory nightmare, some Frankenstein overlord that throws people out of their homes, eats and is always hungry. So goes with all our pursuits, our creeds, our institutions.

Which means unicorns exist. I've seen them.

So take a minute as you are consuming the illusory turkey this week, and maybe sitting back to watch your illusory football games and look at who is on the counch beside you, or who is asking for the imaginary dinner rolls across the table. Peering out though those two imaginary portholes in those ridiculous looking heads is the real deal. Those are the lights that shine out, some confused, some scared, some truly unaware of their own brightness, but lights none the less to brighten and guide your way. Be thankful for them. Know that the only thing to break this illusion, to bridge the long fathoms of space is that light, and that light is love.

You can believe in your little illusions, it is a free world. Try not to get confused into thinking a group of shining lights is the illusory enemy. Meet each light with the respect and the awe that is required when meeting that tiny celestial ember of the divine fire.

Finally, if this supposition be true, than world peace, is attainable, just as a goal line, or a sung song is attainable, it happens when any two lights meet, it happens purely through perspective.

And, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Love and peace to you and yours,


Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm a fantasy writer.

I know this seems silly, but I have come to a realization. I am a fantasy writer. I'm not a science-fiction writer. Everything I try to write that is science fiction just doesn't want to meet the parameters of what is realistic according to the erstwhile editors of science-fiction publications. I guess this makes sense. I love Ray Bradbury, and he even said that he was a fantasy writer. He said that only fahrenheit 451 could be considered true science fiction. I'm not sure, but maybe it is because I see the value of science fiction as providing allegories for life. I guess I'm just not interested in what kind of external devices that mankind may come up with in the hopes to solve an essentially internal problem, he (or she) is not happy, and they forget to be kind and thoughtful to each other, their home, and to themselves.

I do love dreams, and their limitless possiblities. What is a story, but a shared dream. So, I will embrace my fantasy writing reality. Hopefully, I can avoid any confused/and confusing rejections from folks who seem to appreciate my creative efforts, but do not see how my story technically fits into their publications.

I'm not really a horror writer, either, but do delve into some pretty dark fantasy. I'm not interested in splatter punk, seriel killers or the like. I have a lot of trouble ever coming up with suspense stories. I'll still try to trick horror editors into accepting my fanciful stuff. I do write about fears in a most allegorical fashion.

I hope to write more news here soon. My wife says she wants me to give a reading in Waterford on the 3rd. My colleagues in the Language Arts department have read my story. One of them wants to teach it to his "Contemporary Voices" Lit. class. Well, that should be interesting. I wonder how adolescents will take to a story about parental fears...

I'll keep you updated.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stephen King's new book

Stephen King's new book is out. I used part of my earnings as a writer to pre-purchase Under the Dome. I expect it to arrive in the next couple of days. I am very excited. I always enjoy Mr. King's writing, but this one sounds like a particular winner. I will write a review when I have finished it. If you have never really given Stephen King a chance, you should I think he is the best writer alive, and I would love to meet him in person some day. I haven't read absolutely everything by the man, but I have read a lot. These are the books I have found the most entertaining:

1. Salem's Lot
2. "Everything's Eventual" (anthologized under the same title)
3. It
4. The Dead Zone
5. "The Mist" (anthologized in Skeleton Crew)

But, that's just a start. There are so many works that are underappreciated:
Such as:
Cell- This apocalyptic Zombie book is a work of allegorical genius. The thing captures life during and after 9/11 to a T. I am surprised that more people haven't written of this. The book is full to the brim of commentary on life in George W. Bush's America. So many people say that there is no good post 9/11 literature. They haven't read King. Also check out "The Things They Left Behind" in Just after Sunset. The short story captures the fall out from this tragedy with power. I hope Stephen King keeps writing for years to come. People will look back a hundred years from now and they will read, teach, and recommen King as the voice of his times.

On the writing front, I have written a supernatural ghost story for an anthology for young adults and I keep on sending out stuff every chance I get. I have put off editing my novel for a couple of months until after the holidays in the hopes that the winter will give me more time and hopefully to sell a few more yarns, as well.

Also, if you have never read, Grapes of Wrath, do it now. I'm teaching the book, and I was amazed at how relevant it is in the light of the recession and the bank by outs and all of that rigamarole. I watched Capitalism: A Love Story and was shocked to hear word for word some reactions of the evicted Americans with the voices of displaced farmers in Steinbeck's masterpiece.

Well, Go well and Stay well as they said over and over again in Cry, The Beloved Country.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shadows of the Emerald City is at Amazon.com

Just thought everyone should know. It also has become one of the top 100 anthology sellers at that esteemed site.

I'm back

Well, I am crawling back from a wicked flu. Not a fun time. Still coughing, and had a few chills today, but I don't feel like I'm going to die anymore, that's a start. I have been reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a big undertaking for me, because I tend to read about as fast as I write. In any case, I might have to take a break, I just got a copy of Shadows of the Emerald City. It is awesome, and doubly awesome to see my name in print for the first time. I am pretty stoked. I sat down and between coughing fits cranked out another submission for Northern Frights Publishing. Hopefully, I can edit it in the next few weeks and get it out. I wrote a story for Retro Spec anthology just before the old flu hit last week. Both I think did what I wanted them to do. I also noticed a strange thing. A character from another story found her way into this one, uninvited. Well, she is welcome, it was a surprise that's all, but a nice one. In some round about way, I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I find that I've been having a lot of Kilgore Trout moments myself. Well, I look forward to feeling better, and hope that if you are reading this, that the antibodies my body has created will magically keep you and your families free of this nastiness. Well, take care and stay well,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shadows of the Emerald City is for sale!

Hey Everybody,

If you want to buy a book with my story in it, go to the following website:


For those who want to come to reading sometime in November, just contact me and I can order a book for you to pick up at that time. Well, happy reading, and thanks for keeping up with my dream.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Sale!

Ladies and Gentlehumans!

I just recieved word that my story, "The Dragon Wager" is being published in the upcoming Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology. I had a lot of fun writing this and I can't wait for people to read it. I am going to have to build a new shelf in my study for all these publications! And I have a long weekend coming up. I'll be writing another story or two, then. For now, I just, wow, I mean, holy cow, batman. It is really, really happening.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Review!

I guess there was a delay in printing, but I have another review that devotes a whole paragraph to a story by yours truly. I do so look forward to reading the other stories; they sound wonderful. Here's the link...


In the mean time I have started writing again, in earnest. I am working on a nostalgic speculative piece. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween is coming

I've been really stressed out with dealing with a round of massive sickness at the house and my little guys continuing arthritic problems. I have managed to squirrel enough time away to edit some old projects and get them out there. I wish them well...

The air is crisp (a little too crisp this year) and the trees are almost all bare. Soon, we'll have to light the old grinning doorstep fools to keep back Samhain and all the ghoulies.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hint fiction

Robert Smartwood has promoted this new type of fiction, called: hint fiction. It is a fiction story in 25 words or less. You can read more about it at:

I submitted two such stories for his proposed anthology this summer. I'm still waiting to see if mine make the final cut. It would be cool, if they did as Joyce Carol Oates and a lot of other famous people will be in the anthology, but I had fun challenging myself to this endeavor, anyways. If I don't make it, I'll post them here later. Until then, I came up with another one recently and I'll self-publish it here:

Hitchiking in a Red State
by: T. L. Barrett
Johnny knew he was in trouble when the driver said: "Look at all these lazy animals, just sleeping the day away on the interstate."
The End
Well, I hope you enjoy that bit of political fiction. I have not gotten much done this weekend on account of some friends stopping by and the little ones still recuperating. I'll catch you later...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Home with the kids.

Yep, home from work with the kids, again. My son Brahms has severe arthritis and it is acting up horribly. His twin may have pneumonia. Trying times. I am just thankful for the kind hearts in our life that give their love and time to help my little boy feel as well as he can. (He loved the card and the orange, Auntie Corey. You don't realize, perhaps, how rare that kind of thoughtfulness is. He will remember.)

It is ironic that my writing career's first gasp of life was inspired by the very hardship that we are facing going into another long cold winter. People always say art comes from pain. I guess the people are right. Speaking of "The China People of Oz", my wife, Sandra will be putting together a reading at the Davies Memorial Library in the White Village of Waterford as soon as I can get some copies of the Shadows of the Emerald City which is being published on the 15th of this month. If anyone would like to purchase a copy at that time, please contact me, so I will know how many I should get. I will update the blog with details when we get the final date and time for the reading.

I'm sending out a lot of stories, old and new, to all kinds of places. We will keep our fingers crossed for those.

I have decided my task for these dark months. My epic fantasy novel, The Vale of Shade, needs editing, a somewhat daunting task for it reads over 800 pages long, but it has to be done. It took me 5 years writing through house fires, births, illnesses, construction and moving, so it is really a work of blood, sweat and tears. It is also really, really good, and I have faith that you will be seeing it on the bookshelves in the next couple of years.

Well, I'm off to pick up another sick kid. Catch you later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My second story to be published!

Sideshow fables has accepted my short story, "Number Seven was Empty", for issue #3 which should be out in March. It is a Circus Fiction literary magazine. You can find out more and purchase a copy eventually at:


things just keep on rolling on...

really my first review

Well, I was wrong. I guess this was my first review. Wanderings Magazine editor, Mike Wever, seemed to like my story all right.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

My first review!

I know, this might sound like gloating. But I keep getting rejection letters that describe how wonderful folks thought my work is, but they just couldn't fit it in their conception of their anthology. One very kind lady told me that she loved my story, but couldn't accept it, because she didn't believe that people actually had psychic powers. I guess she never met the people I know. I spent the evening sending out some of my best and hoping for the same.

A magazine just published a review of Shadows of the Emerald City. It mentions four stories and one of them was one of mine! Wow. You can read about it at the following:


I am over the rainbow.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

I will soon see print!


I have been excited about the upcoming publication of Shadows of the Emerald City. It should be out October 15th. The table of contents is available to read on the NorthernFrights website. My story is smack dab in the middle. I am still waiting on a lot of other great anthologies I have submitted stories to. I woke up this morning with a headache and a great horror story in my head. It seems no matter how much fantasy I read, I keep coming out with the dark and spooky stuff. Well, I suppose it is the time of year. I also have had a lot of stress dealing with my little guy's arthritis condition. I guess I should sit back down and start hammering out these dark little gems soon. Well, I will keep everyone posted...


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back from Vacationland

Well, I got my welcome back letter from the school. I had to take deep breaths from the inevitable anxiety that produces in me. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot about my teaching job, but... I have fallen in love with the summer and the writing time it has afforded me. Next week, I have to put my long pants on again and start planning curriculum. I am not a multi-tasker and the job requires a lot of it. Stephen King once said (I think) that a week of teaching made him feel like his head had been in a wine (cider?) press. I know what he means. It will be hard to keep up with all the writing I hope to do during the year, while continuing to raise my five hellions. I think, though, I have a new motivation with the oncoming publication and will look forward to the day, perhaps, I can stay home, and make believe all day long.

Speaking of Stephen King, I just got back from a vacation in his home state, white water rafting, camping, and beach bumming. I have to say, there were plenty of seeds planted for future stories.

The first thing I noticed was the proximity story. A proximity story begins because two random things are in unexpected proximity. Let me give you an example:

A number of years ago, my wife and I were driving through St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and were stopped in front of the South Congregational Church. The Church does a great job providing community lunches in our broken down little town. It just so happened there was a funeral held that day in the church. Out front, a long black hearse was parked, the back door open, presumably, the deceased occupant just having been unloaded into the church for the ceremony. Right in front of the open door, the folding placard sign had been placed stating:
Today! Free Community Lunch! All Welcome!

You can imagine the possiblities. We took pictures in this time before digital, and we have them some where. When I dig them up, I'll post them. Yes, my wife and I are a bit deranged, but we are never bored.

The proximity stories we found involved business establishments. On an abandoned stretch of road sat an old roadside motel with the sign in front saying: Whispering Pines Motel. First off the site of the old place was spooky, but the name, well it just sounds like the backdrop for any number of psycho remakes. But, right next door, was an establishment called: Speedy Cleaners. You wonder how often the management of the Whispering Pines called on their neighbors...

The second was in a little town, with the spooky name like Solon, or Canaan. On a rise of land stood The Church of the Harvest. Right next door was Schneely's Quality Meats, with a smiling red neck painted on the sign. I think I need to say no more.

We stayed in The Forks (you heard me), and rafted the Kennebec. The twins were too young to travel the first, most rapid, part of the river, so I stayed behind with them. Where we waited to board the raft, was a cliff. No fence, just a log to sit on overlooking a eighty or so drop down to the raging river. I watched with dismay as my children and another youngster threw rocks down and skirted death during the long hot wait. Finally, a big bellied bearded man who works for the area came down and warned us that a boy had plummeted half way down and got snagged in a bunch of bushes. Oh, and let me not forget the bed of rocks where snakes twined and sunned themselves.

We stayed in cabin tents in the woods near the river. At night, after a long day on the river, we were all sleeping. I woke up to find a stranger standing over my bed asking me if we were squatting, for he had rented these cabins. It turned out he had the wrong campground, but it was enough for me to get my heart racing, and I'll have to admit, afterward I threw up in my own mouth. Let's just say, Maine never fails to provide excitement.

We even got to the beach, went to a picturesque Popham beach. I walked a quickly dissapearing sand bar to a rough island of rock and looked out over the Atlantic. Mist shrouded the light house and everything. We didn't see any of Dagon's people, swimming in the brine, but there was a proliferation of ungodly radioactive green horse flies (the biggest I ever saw). We all look like we have chicken pox now. The locals told us that all the rain was the cause, and they had never seen a year like it.

Finally, we drove home on 302 through Fryeburg. We passed Lowell, where Stephen King has a camp and was struck by a mini-van. My uncle lives in Fryeburg and has had lunch with Stephen King a couple of times. It isn't much, but, as a fan, it is the corner of King's world I own, so i'll keep it. Finally, I arrived home, tired, and wondering if I had time to crank out one more spooky tale before putting on the long pants once more. We'll see...

TL Barrett

Saturday, August 8, 2009

This is the promotional banner for the book. If you go to anthologies in the Northern Frights Publishing site, you can see the cover. It looks great!

My first published story!


I am a writer of speculative fiction. My hard work this summer is paying off. My short story: "The China People of OZ", will be published in the upcoming anthology Shadows of the Emerald City, published by Northern Frights Publishing, and edited by J.W. Schnarr.

You can view the cover and order a copy soon at:


I'll write more when I know more. Check in for updates.

T.L. Barrett