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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Isolation is available in kindle format.


You can purchase Isolation for your kindle now, or wait a couple of weeks and buy a hard copy. Either way it's much better than smoking cigarrettes and watching Captain Kangaroo. My story, "The Reservoir" is in this one. I can't wait to read this antho.

Friday, December 10, 2010

POWERS is on sale!

The superhero anthology, Powers, is now available at Pill Hill Press Book Store for the super-reasonable price of $9.99. My story: "The Tripwire Trio" is in this. I am very excited to read all of them.

Review of Dan Simmon's The Hollow Man

I just finished reading Dan Simmon's The Hollow Man. I know, it's 17 years after it first came out, but I feel compelled to recommend this book to anyone who has a soul (or a holographic wavefront).

This book tells the story of the telepath and math professor, Jeremy Bremen, as he copes the death of his wife, Gail (the only other telepath he has ever met). His journey of grief and loss sends him across a suffering and depraved American landscape. There are many twists and turns, and there may be many times the reader thinks, 'I can't take anymore of this', but in the end I can only say that the journey is worthwhile and the outcome is, too. The story has such pathos and heart, that it never surrenders to a cynicism seemingly demanded by the nature of the individuals that cross Mr. Bremen's path; nor does Mr. Bremen surrender.

I am in awe of Dan Simmons. Once in a while, as a writer myself, I like to find a book of his I haven't read and humble myself before the work of true master. He has earned a place as one of my top five favorite authors of all time. This is for many reasons. He writes with heart, while exploring scientific concepts that rearrange my view of the world. He evokes terror and beauty with his masterful style.

Finally, Dan Simmons has written a book that will haunt my memory for the rest of my life. That's not faint praise. This book just entered the list of the very best I have ever read. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Look at my little writer's garden grow!

Do you like plants, or are you deathly afraid they are silently communicating with each other and waiting till we let our guard down? Either way, I'm sure you'll love The Library of Horror's upcoming anthology: Fearology 3: Planting the Seeds of Horror.

My short story, "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" will see print in this anticipated volume!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Tripwire Trio

"The Tripwire Trio" will see print with Static Movement's Powers: A Superhero Anthology very soon. I came up with these characters when I was 12. I thought how cool would it be to actually see if I could do it know that I am 3 times that age. Well, I was pretty happy with the results and the editor seemed to be, as well.

This story is about three GI's in WWII that are part of a top secret experiment. They get the ultimate call of duty in the story.

I love writing superhero fiction. I have written a couple of stories so far in this particular universe and plan on writing plenty of novels about them.

I just finished another short story for The Beta City anthology over at The Library. I am very hopeful for that one, too. Just have to edit it...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Reservoir" will see print!

My horror story, "The Reservoir" will soon see print in the Isolation Anthology by Post Mortem Press. I am very excited, as this is my personal favorite of the stories I wrote this summer. This story tells the story of a twelve year old boy who is dragged to a haunted reservoir for a church picnic by his mother and her boyfriend. I have written plenty of little yarns that are covered in pulp and schlock, but this one goes deeper, my friends. Check it out for yourself early next year!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review of Mystic Signals Issue 7

I am always hesitant to write a review about a book that I have a story in, but I also have wanted to concentrate on getting through some of these anthologies and magazines. I also know how much I love it when people tell me they've enjoyed the stories that I have written. With that in mind, here is what I thought of Mystic Signals, Issue #7 Aug. 2010:

Carol Hightshoe edits this fantasy anthology magazine which features stories from two websites and a few exclusive stories as well (The Lorelei Signal, and Sorcerous Signals). I have to say, when I received the hard copy of Mystic Signals in the mail, I was so excited by the style, formatting and presentation. The art really is exceptional (although I'm more of a traditionalist and enjoy the 2d art usually more, I enjoyed all of these pictures). The formatting is clean, professional and easy to read as it is broken into accessible columns.

As for the stories themselves, holy cow! I can't believe what fun it was to be transported to a new and exciting world with each story. I also have to say that on the whole I enjoyed these more than most best of and "professional" anthologies you might pick up from a big publisher. Some of the stories had a real flare for description and mood, while others were heavier with character, action and humor. There's a real good blend for people of all tastes.

I did have some stories that I really enjoyed reading, and with fantasy this usually mean that I really "escape" into the action and story. I have a theory why, which I will get into in just a minute. Here are the few stories that really stood out for me personally:

1. "Split Second" by Abbi Carter. In this story, Ryal, a sorcerer, is sent with some mercenaries/soldiers to hunt down some Innates (folks born with mystical powers). This story has some real drama, conflict, and a great concept. I left the story wishing I could read a whole novel about this fascinating world.

2. "Irascible" by Barbara Davies. This dragon race tale features a plucky heroin, exciting contest and real cinematic action. I fell in love with the whole concept and wished to read more from Ms. Davies.

3. "The Forest Paradox" by Verna McKinnon. This story has humor and a magical mystery to be solved when a young witch, her brother and ex-lover investigate a magically-killed forest.

I really feel like with fantasy in particular, which traditionally arrived from long epics, the short story form works the best if it devotes its time to a central chracter and acts as one episode in a longer story arc about the character. This way there is a sense of history and a sense of some future to come. The character can play out the challenge in the narrative without having to rush to some conclusion that would only have real impact for the reader if we had journeyed with him or her. Hence, a great short story should act as any single episode in a fantasy television series and give the sense of being involved in a longer arc and a bigger world.

Well, I really enjoyed all of these stories. There wasn't one I skimmed through or didn't finish. I hope all of these writers continue to write and produce lots of good fantasy for the rest of us to enjoy.

Also, check out my story, "Mother Cassie Goes on Account" it is featured in this volume and can also be found on the link to the right.

Well, I'm off to pick something else to read. Take care,


Monday, November 22, 2010

Ninja Blades will see print!

My short and rather disturbed and disturbing tale, "Ninja Blade", will see print in Static Movement's Hit Men Anthology. This was one of those stories that I started to write on one level and realized as I finished that it had been about at least three levels of meaning (and those are the only ones I can find). I think people will like it, I only hope that my nine-year-old protagonist will be acceptable to people who would buy or read a book called "Hit Men". Well, I had fun sending out the contract for Hit Men! Take care, I'll write more when I know more.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review of Lazarus by Lori Titus

Lazarus is a western undead treat! Short, but with plenty of story for your dollar, this tale features zombies, psychics, romance, thrills and more. Luella Pembry, a woman with a haunted past, enters Lazarus a town with a past of its own and a present filled with the hoardes of the flesh-hungry undead. There are some great characters and some very thrilling moments. The plot moves right along and my only desire was that we could know some of the side characters in this strange town a little better, and perhaps the author could have inserted a few more atmospheric descriptions of the town and its enviorns. Overall I really enjoyed reading this story. You don't have to love westerns or zombies to enjoy this quick penny dreadful. I am anxiously looking forward to reading more from the promising talent of Ms. Titus! And a final note, this zombie tale has plenty of gore, but it relies most effectively on terrifying moments to carry the impact of the horror. I applaud this. I also love the idea of psychic bloodlines carried out so cleverly by the author.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Getting hairier all the time...

Well, I'm 23,000 words into The Hairy Monster Book. I am also having a great time with my pals Glen and Barry. Can't wait for everybody to read about their misadventures. I also wrote a rather sweet (I think) Halloween story the other day. It is about a WWII veteran widower and I guess it was fitting that I wrote it on Veterans day.

I just finished Blockade Billy by Stephen King. I just hope old Uncle Stevie has a whole lot more yarns in him to keep the rest of us sated for quite a while. The story is told with such a love of baseball, but with Mr. King's appropriately gothic brush strokes. I have to say his honest portrayal of a madman as a mirror for our own extremes in behavior is true literature, and I just want to go to the future when American Literature classes of the 22nd century will be largely Stephen King studies and go back to my tenth grade class and tell my teacher that Stephen King is so much more than bubble gum for the mind.

I guess my teacher didn't get the memo that some gum helps keep your teeth clean and improves your breath at the same time.

Well, I hope all is well with you and yours. I'll write more when I know more...
I've been also reading Lazarus by Lori Titus, and I'm really enjoying it. I'll write a full review when I finish.

I've been sporadically reading Mystic Signals 7, which has my story: "Mother Cassie Goes on Account", you can read many of these stories at the link to the right. I'll write about my favorites as soon as I'm done the entire book/magazine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something from the Attic is on sale!

Hop on over to Pill Hill Press book store to pick up your copy of Something from the Attic by Static Movement. It has not only one, but two stories of mine in it.

"To Serve the Weird"


"The Back Seat was Empty"

With titles like that, how could you resist!


That's the sound of one happy werewolf! I just made my second sale in one day! "Fair Time" will be published in Pill Hill Press's Daily Bite Anthology. I am ecstatic! Not only does that make a lot of stories published in a little over a year, but I've got an awesome excuse to buy a book that will have one horror story for every day of the year!

Ahhhh. Life is good.


The Secret to Survival

No, I'm not going to tell it to you. You will have to read it in Unquiet Earth, an anthology of Zombie Fiction from Static Movement. It is the second story I've got in there. I can't wait to read all of them.

I find that most of my zombie writing has more to do with the people than the zombies. I guess that's why I loved 28 Days Later.

Hope you had a happy Halloween. I know I did with my little monsters (a minotaur and a gargoyle). Now I sit back and wait for my witch to fly back to me. (Do so safely, my love).


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just finished reading Oh, the Horror!

Hey everybody, I will endeavor to write down some reviews of the books I've been reading in the future. I just finished reading the anthology: Oh, the Horror! by Static Movement. Chris Bartholomew is an inspiration of a publisher and editor as she gives lots of opportunities for people to edit their own anthologies and have their work published. The cover, I believe done by Jessy Marie Roberts is a fun one. And the stories begin and end on high points. "Fresh Meat" by Darren Gallagher is a fun flash piece that gets the reader ready for some of the disturbing elements of the anthology (a buffet of horror!). Also the final piece is a powerful one by Yolanda Sfetsos, "Sweeping Darkness".

I am reluctant to review a book that I have a story in. My story, "England, the Bad Dream" is in there. There are many stories that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I would like to mention some of the stories that really captured my imagination. I suppose that is the litmus test for personal taste. It may have been because of tone, or imagery, or for a certain alchemical mix with the reader's experience and taste, but I know what I like.

So these are just the stories that I personally liked the best that spoke to me as a reader and managed to give me a chill up my spine or a queasiness in the stomach:

1. "Bed Bugs Bite", by Yolanda Sfetsos. I wonderful gothic tale about a girl and the monster under her bed. Truly spooky and dark. I loved it! I look forward to reading many more stories by the talented Ms. Sfetsos.

2. "Here and There", by Gregory Miller. A great tale about an investigation into an abandoned farm house. This story has a wonderful pace and voice. In the author's note it mentions that Ray Bradbury liked his stuff. I'm not surprised. The quality reminded me much of the master. I know Mr. Miller will have a long and distinguished writing career. Hopefully, he will have a lot of dedication to his craft, because from one teacher and father, finding the time and energy is not the easiest of tasks...

3. "The Sick Little Puppy", by Lorraine Horrell. This story made me sick! Seriously, I don't know if I'll look at hot dogs the same way again. A great little story of revenge and the nature of evil. This story successfully navigates the gray waters between abuser and the vengeful in an over-the-top fashion. Thumbs up, Lorraine!

Again, there are many stories that I also enjoyed, the stories by Jim Bronyaur, Ken Goldman, and Joshua Brown also come to mind, but those three in particular spoke to me and made me particularly proud to be in the anthology.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Busy writing...

I have done some massive editing of two stories in the past two days. Both I shaved off over 2,000 words and was pretty happy with the results. One of them: "The Back Seat was Empty" became a flash fiction piece and will see print with "To Serve the Weird" in Static Movement's Something from the Attic anthology.

I also wrote a 5,500 word story about love, horror and apples on the eve of World War II. It was a fun story to write and I think it is one of my good ones. We'll see if it makes the cut.

If my wife continues to be so supportive and let me shut myself away,I'll continue to peck away at The Hairy Monster Book. It is going along great, I just shouldn't let myself get so distracted. It's not easy, I have a lot of ideas!

Well, if you don't hear from me till later, have a Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"To Serve the Weird" will see print!

I just had another acceptance at Static Movement. "To Serve the Weird" is a little tale about a modern wizard apprentice who must face the final test, serve the weird or his his own dark path.

I have just managed to get all of the publications that I've been published in and they are a handsome bunch on my shelf. I also am finding that a lot of what I'm reading far outranks much of the "professional" anthologies out there in the big box book stores. I will be posting some of my favorites as I go...

Well, I might have a few free days to pound out some chapters of The Hairy Monster Book this week. Wish me luck!

And luck to you, as well,


Monday, October 4, 2010

The David Banner Blues

I am a proud father of a son that is suffering from the David Banner Blues. Really, he has a severe form of arthritis that has changed his life and challenged his enjoyment of said life since he was seven years old. He's nine now, and just today the boy had a lot of trouble with stairs. I know how angry I feel when I think of how much pain the universe has dumped on my little boy. When he was little we used to call him the Buddha boy. He is so naturally happy, gentle and sweet. He is giving and thoughtful and just about everything a dad could want in a boy.

Right now, he is an Incredible Hulk addict. I come home from work, and find him curled up on the couch, his eyes drawn from the fatigue of his condition and the energy sapping nature of his medications. He is entranced with watching Bill Bixby trudge across the late seventies in his bell bottoms with only a backpack and a hope that someday a cure will be found. I will sit down and watch with him for a spell, noticing the melancholy sweetness to Bixby's performance and the haunting piano theme. Suddenly, it all makes sense...

Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung explained that heroic archetypes call to us. That myth is the truest religion in the most sacred sense. The heroes journey marks are own search for meaning. I think of all the lost adolescent girls in the confusing world shelling out millions of dollars to see Titanic over and over again, and weeping countless times because of the doomed love of Jack and Rose. This journey tells them that love is real, that it matters, and that it transcends all the pain and limits of this catastrophic world.

Here is my son, angry, frustrated as his peers dart about, heedless of pain and agony, enjoying their nine year old lives. Sure, some days he puts on a grin and tells me he's hulking out and dares a tiny leap up into my arms, after doing a marvelous Lou Ferrigno impersonation with all of his 60 pound shaking might. But then, the arthritis flares up again wiping out all his plans, all his schemes, all his backyard, boyhood dreams. He travels for the third time in a month to the medical center, to be poked, prodded and experimented on, all in the hopes that someday a cure may come.

How could my brave boy not find solace in David Banner's journey? How could he not find hope in Banner's hope of searching for the final cure? I know that as David, in all of his seventies sensitive drifter heroism, exemplifies the best that is in my boy, the best that is in all of us. So I understand; and when my little boy gets overtired and screams and then falls into tears afraid that he has hurt my feelings in his outrage, I understand.

I, too, have my David Banner story. In the early eighties I was afflicted with a kind of fear that is alien to the kids that I teach today. I feared nuclear war, to the point that my nightmares resounded with glowing mist and the blaring of air sirens. In one, particular dream, I was in the midst of a devastated city, hallowed out by nuclear catastrophe, and Bill Bixby wandered up the street, looked me earnestly in the eye and told me it was all going to be all right. I guess, I believed him. I didn't have any nuclear nightmares after that.

I still believe him. I think my little boy does, too. I think there will be a cure, someday, and until then, we have the stories, the hero, to lead us on, do the right thing, and give us the inner-strength to meet their grand gestures with our little ones, especially when the heroic feat is getting to the top of those stairs in one piece.

That's the miracle of story, of myth. That's what I have always wanted to do. I hope someday, that my tales will give someone a bit of that magic stuff to hold on to. Myth isn't a lie, just as the Hulk isn't some cheesy seventies serial. Myth is metaphor, it is alchemical, it acts as the remedy, the panacea for any wound the spirit can endure.

I hope that people continue to retell these stories in ways that will reach us. The makers of superhero flicks should take a page from Bill Bixby's work. Regardless, each of us will continue our own journeys, and occasionally find that perfect story, that elixir for our very souls.

The time for the anti-hero is done. The time for real heroes, however misunderstood and afflicted, is here.

Mr. Bixby, my boy and I both thank you. We hope you are enjoying yourself in heaven.


My progress...

Hey, you guys!

My short story, "England, the Bad Dream" is now available in the anthology, "Oh, the Horror" by Static Movement. It is a creepy tale of an American abroad student who gets caught between two rival and very evil forces in England.

My short ghost story, "The House on Dearborn Street" is available in the anthology, "Ghostly Tales of Terror", from Living Dead Press. This one is for young people, and I'm psyched to be in a book like the ones I loved as a kid. I have told this one many times to frighten my students, my children, and my nephew and nieces.

I am pretty much done the final draft of The Door to Halloween. Now we'll see if some literary agents want to make some money with me. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I am about to get back to Glen and Barry in order to complete "The Hairy Monster Book".

I will write more when I know more...


Monday, September 20, 2010

My fall/winter plans

Well, I have had a few real great sales of stories. It's nice to see the stories I wrote this summer finding homes. I would love to keep cranking out all kinds of short stories, but I have The Vale of Shade coming out this winter (hopefully!), and I want to keep on the fast track for my five year plan (I'm only at the beginning of year 2!). There are still a few more stories out there waiting to find out if they will be accepted, but I've got good hopes for those, too. This will be my plan:

1. I need to do some editing of my dark fantasy novel for kids: The Door to Halloween. It is a great book and I know It'll be out in the bookstores within the next year or so.

2. I need to do some final editing on the second and third book of The Vale of Shade: The Bastard Prophecy and Lord of an Endless Realm.

3. I have given myself till the end of February to complete The Hairy Monster Book, a humorous fantasy/buddy road trip story of Glen, the Sasquatch, and Barry, the Werewolf.

So, Now, I dive in, and with any luck, in a year or so, I will have five books out on the shelves. And then there's the two sequels I have planned for The Door...

I won some booty in the 2010 pirate contest over at The Library of the Living Dead. This reminds me. If you haven't read "Mother Cassie Goes on Account", GO AND DO IT NOW! You can go to www.loreleisignal.com and make sure you vote for my story. YOU ONLY HAVE A LITTLE OVER ONE WEEK TO DO SO!

Well, now, if I can stay healthy, be a good Dad, husband, and teacher, and manage these grandiose plans, I will have certainly earned my place in the weird literary hall of fame.

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This one I am very proud of...

I am apparently getting the big cold over with early. I hope it has had its way with me and will get bored with me soon. I took lots of naps today, played cards and wrote one heck of a piece of flash fiction: "In the End, We are Like our Fathers". It will see print in Unquiet Earth by Static Movement. I am very proud of this one. It came to me while I was cursing my state of unhealth and my boy's continuing struggle with his ailments. I hope all of you stay in good health. Stay true to yourselves and the great mother.

Your Pal,

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Now serving 12 and 13...

Well, lucky 13 was reached today. Static Movement accepted "England, a Bad Dream" for their Oh, the Horror! anthology. "Texas Thunder" found a home with their "Dark Romance from the Far Side". The former is about an American student that becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural and very scary forces. The latter is a zombie romance.

I am very excited, but I am going to have to write some more stories before I exhaust my store. I have some plans to add to the mythology of my superhero universe started in "Team 7: Seventeen years later". It should be good.

Our neighbor just gave us a huge bookshelf. Looks like I'm going to need it very soon.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Another nice review...

Another favorable review of "Mr. Klein's Cancer" can be found at: http://horrornews.net/3913/necrotic-tissue-issue-11/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

This writer goes to eleven!

Well, last night I officially went to eleven short stories published. It's a ghost story I've been scaring kids with for years. It is a real treat to get published in a kid book. I am awaiting word on a couple of big projects and trying to keep my head above water as I am teaching full time once again.

Living Dead Press has some very interesting anthos open. I posted a link on where I'm published in case any writers out there haven't stumbled upon them.

Go well and stay well,


Friday, August 27, 2010

My tenth short story sale!

Just got word that "Arthur Penniman, Private First Class" has been accepted into the School Days anthology at Static Movement Press. This makes me very happy. It is a semi-autobiographical tale that acts as a metaphor (allegory?) to our war culture. Arthur Penniman is my Douglas Spaulding (Bradbury) or Nick Adams (Hemingway). I have sent in my comic to Dark Horse and I am continuing to await news about my fantasy trilogy. I will write more when I know more.


Monday, August 16, 2010

End of Summer Blues

Well, tomorrow I go back to the old Teacher work area and pound out the curriculum for another year of twisting... inspiring young minds. My summer of writing and lazing about is just about over. I have written a number of short stories, we'll hope that the seeds I've planted will bear fruit.

I did manage to sign a contract for my fantasy trilogy. Most exciting.

For the final piece de resistance I managed to revisit my friends Glen, the sasquatch, and Barry, the werewolf. I have so much fun writing about their friendship. A novel of their adventures is in the works.

I hope you are all having a wonderful August...


Monday, August 9, 2010

Moving right along...

My five year plan is working marvelously...bwa ha ha ha!

I have really exciting news concerning my fantasy trilogy. I am waiting for the details, but lets just say my five year plan is going along fabulously. (Did I just use the word fabulously?)

Another writer wrote about my story in the eleventh issue of Necrotic Tissue. He really liked it. Don't take my word for it go to: http://journalofalways.blogspot.com/2010/08/review-nectrotic-tissue-11.html and see for yourself.

I am also working on a comic book project that may yeild great fruit in the near future, we shall see.

Life is good.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm actually working on my novel!

Yep, you heard it. I have my fantasy trilogy partially edited. Very exciting.

Oh, and in case you haven't yet, please go to the Lorelei Signal and read "Mother Cassie Goes on Account" and vote for it.

I hope everybody is as well as can be expected.

Spooked myself out.

I've had this idea for a horror story for over a year. It seemed to fit the requirements for an anthology submission call, so I wrote it. Wow, I am one sick puppy. I didn't realize that I had quite so dark a side. I hope they enjoy being disturbed in the editor's office.

This has been a tough summer. My boy is very sick. My teenagers are very teenagery. My beautiful wife has taken pity on me and given me a this week to write. I edited some old tales, wrote a huge novelette, and a short story about a vampire mother. The novelette is about a group of kids that start performing necromancy in their club house.

So, I have averaged about a story a week this summer. Not horrible, but not what I wanted, so I'm going to stop babbling on the blog and start writing...

Oh, yeah, I'm going to the circus tonight with my super twins! Yeah!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Isaac Asimov Jr.

I went to my brother-in-law's 40th last night. My neice had a pair of fake eye glasses. We started all trying them on and seeing what kind of character we would become. Everybody thought I had arrived at the party to warn them that the invaders were not from this planet. After looking at the photo today, I was shocked at how much like Isaac Asimov I looked. I am going to go drill my mother about her whereabouts in 1973. Then I'm going to contact the estate of the esteemed science-fiction writer. Maybe there is a chance I can write full time, soon. (:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Read "Mother Cassie Goes on Account" on line!

Wow, what a day. First I get another acceptance and then I realize that my short fantasy story, "Mother Cassie Goes on Account" is available to read on the internet. Carol Hightshoe accepted it into The Lorelei Signal. There is a wonderful illustration from the story by Marge Simon. Check it out!

"A Funeral for Mister Cuddles" has been accepted!

My funny story about the friendship between a sasquatch and a werewolf will see print in Library of Horror Press's Groanology: Amusing Monster Mash-ups. This made my day! I loved writing this story and I hope people will enjoy reading it.

I've been writing like a madman, when I am not eating, picking up kids, dropping off kids, helping out around the house and everything else necessary for a husband and a father of five. I have written two more stories this week. The first is a short story about a retired superhero who finds out his son has inherited his propensity for powers. The second is a dark tale about an American student who gets stuck between two supernatural forces of evil in England. I wish them well, and send them out.

I will be on vacation on a very deep and cold lake next week, but I look forward to writing a few more tales and finishing my latest novel this summer. I hope yours is going well.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer is here!

Summer vacation has arrived. I have been helping my son get better from an operation last week, but still managed to squeeze out a horror story, entitled: "The Reservoir". It scared me and it was a story I always knew I would have to write. I always swim and canoe at a couple of Connecticut River reservoirs. One of them lies over a village in which my great grandfather lived. I always wondered what waited down there... It is even technically a Lovecraft mythos story, my first (that I've tried to publish).

I have got to get started on a big project, but what to do, what to do? I'm sure inspiration will strike me. I just have so many big projects lined up in my head, I'm not sure which one to pull out dust off and hope the magic is still there.

I just got my copy of A Magical Summer by Pandora's Imagination. "Thorbadin's Dilemma" is there, just on the front side of the center of the book. Not too shabby a place. Thorbadin is a carpenter that is despondent that the gods do not afford him and his wife any "quality quiet time" together. Then a member of his wife's coven discovers an ancient prophecy. Apparently the gods want Thorbadin to father a hero on the next summer solstice. The problem is, he's not to father it with his wife. What will he do? Buy a copy and find out.

Well, it is back to the blank screen and the big creative leap to who knows where...


Monday, May 31, 2010

Been busy writing!

Well, I have been putting in a concentrated effort to be a bit more productive. It is amazing how the stress of dealing with work as a teacher, being a father of five, dealing with my boy's arthritis and related conditions, and everything else can sap a guy's creative drive. It is also interesting how one can use those daily trials as excuses for not doing one of the things that make him or her most happy. In the end, though, when I stop hemming and hawing and sit down and just write, all of that anguish and frustration just floats away and I am better fit to face those trials.

Last week I wrote a story called: "A Funeral for Mister Cuddles". It is a buddy story between a werewolf and a Sasquatch. It was so much fun to write. I had the experience once again of feeling like I was just reporting on something that I had given the opportunity of witnessing. Well, my usual readers loved it and pointed out some themes that I guess I must have been subconsciously mulling over. I sent it out and have high hopes.

This weekend I wrote a novelet entitled: "The Pyrelord Awakens". It is sword and sorcery fantasy with a couple of interesting characters that came to me sitting by the campfire years ago. It was fun to finally find out what they were all about. I anticipate writing many more stories about Crimm the Pyrelord and Dr. Jack Ween the Wardmaster (and their girl, Friday).

I can't wait for Summer vacation. I have so much I want to write. I will be working on a horror story next. As soon as June 19th strikes, I'll be editing my fantasy novel and finishing my novel: The Gifted Program.

It's Memorial Day, so remember those that stood in liberty's defense. I lost my Uncle Andy last year, who had one arm and a golden heart. I never got to meet my grandpa Eddie, who worked his way through France and Germany against the Fascists. I hope to soon see my Dad-in-law, the one-eyed Richard. To these and all those who have put aside their safety for ours, thank you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Thorbadin's Dillema" has found a home!

I wrote a story about ten years ago, when my wife and I were desperately trying to have a child together. It felt magical, and I put it in a drawer and forgot about it until recently. The twins we made together that spring will be ten just after Christmas this year. I guess that's how magic works. I think it is amazing that almost exactly ten years later I pulled the story out, did a pretty dramatic revision of it, and sent it out. Now, it will be in Pandora's Imagination's Summer Time Magic Anthology. I am very happy. The story takes place in the same town as "The Dragon Wager" which has been published earlier this year in Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology. My epic fantasy novel also takes place here. I think this is a sign. I better get editing/revising, soon. Well, until then, I'm off to the Magical Kingdom with my little miracles, my niece and my soul mate. A wonderful, wonderful thought.

Go well, and stay well,


Friday, April 9, 2010

"The Voice from the Tree" will see print!

My short fantasy story, "The Voice from the Tree" will see print in Brain Soup Magazine. I woke up this morning to find three responses. This was the winner. I am very excited about the thought of this story in print. It is a study in stubborn preseverence. I wrote this re-telling of the events of Genesis for an Anthology last summer. I loved it and wanted it so badly to make the cut. Eventually I heard from them and it was the last story cut from the anthology. I took my chances with a few other places, and I was even told I had written a good story, but the editor, being religious, couldn't in conscience publish it. I suppose it is a bit apocraphyl. But to me, it isn't so much about religion as it is about the human spirit, simians, and aliens. Well, I look forward to reading Brain Soup Magazine. I have listed the link below.

I realized today that I have sold 50% of the stories I have written in the past eight months. That's not bad. I would make one heck of a baseball player batting .500. Well, I will keep writing when I can...


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My speech to the Waterford Winter Literacy Drive

This is a speech I gave to adults and children at the Waterford Winter Literacy Drive party on March 9, 2010. There was a lot of good eats and a lot of receptive people. Also: Gopher Broke played and they were awesome. They played my favorite: Big Rock Candy Mountain. The sun is shining and I'm full of hobo dreams again...

Hi, I’m Travis Barrett, a mild-mannered teacher and citizen of Waterford. But, that’s just my secret identity. At night, on the weekends, and especially in the summer I become, T.L. Barrett, writer and explorer of the stranger and bizarre. I’ve been asked to talk to you today about the subject of writing and maybe give you some clues as to what made me a writer. Was I made or was I born? That’s an age old question and I’ll try to get to that later, but for now, I want to let you all in on a little secret…
This secret is staring most people in the face on most days, but they don’t even see it.
Writing is magic. I’ll tell you how you can tell. In oppressive societies, what are the two things that everyone gets really excited about burning?
Witches and books.
But that’s not all the proof I have. Pick up a book, read the first few lines of a story…What is happening?
One: You are looking at little squiggly marks on a pressed bit of pulp wood, a whole bunch of squiggly marks. We get so used to doing them, we don’t realize they are symbols, symbols that unlock all kinds of meaning, images, and feelings.
Two: As you read you find yourself wondering what is going to happen next? You begin to anticipate results of things that never happened to people that never existed. You might even find yourself worrying over these imaginary people, feeling proud of their accomplishments. You become familiar with places that never existed, or have been dust for thousands of years, or are on some other planet five hundred years in the future. Later on thinking back on these places you might reminisce, even smell something that reminds you of a beach that you never visited. This can happen. It can happen to you. If you don’t believe me, read more books. You obviously haven’t read enough.
Three: You start to change. You think differently. Your idea of the world and the possibilities of what it means to be human expands. You develop empathy. You are far less apt to be cruel to your fellow man, because you have walked in their shoes, you have hid in an attic in Germany with your family just as you were becoming a woman. You were spit on as you made your way through life in the American South as an African American. You traveled with your family on an ancient rusting truck to California in hopes of a better life. You suddenly are more aware of the world and the precious quality of life. You are able to connect the things you hear to stories, events you have read about. The world stops being so confusing, but the sense of living in a giant wondrous mystery deepens. You have more to talk about with strangers, you make friends because you may have never met before but you share the same experience of standing united before Minas Tirith, or have taken your pig to the same county fair.
And maybe just maybe, you see how your story is woven in with all the others, that you are not just a fly trapped in the web of someone elses creation, but you are a spider yourself, and can weave stories, and those idle fantasies you had as a child, as they may have comforted and excited and given meaning to your life, may enrich the life of others. If you learn how to share them.
Stories are shared dreams, writing is their record and their medium. Through writing we share the dream, and we develop a shared meaning, a shared experience, a shared mythology. We all know what it means to be an Ebenezer scrooge. All those films we cry in front of and cheer and eat buckets of popcorn, where did they come from? A screenplay, from the mind of a writer.
But what of today? Will our children read? Will they decide to become writers? Even now, investigative reporting is dying because of economic situations. Will movies become all spectacle and flash, but will you leave the theater feeling no different, for the experience? Will all the children grow up to be Ebenezer scrooges without having learned what that is?
I hope not. I don’t know what the answer is. Video games are soothing to young people in an often demanding and scary world. Like mice in a maze they press the feeder bar and travel down the same electronic corridors, becoming more adept at pushing the feeder bar. But, if the child can learn that reading and writing allows you a much greater escape, a more sustaining and wonderful escape, then we have done good work, and the dreams will continue.
But, back to witches.
If writing is magic, then I am ipso facto, a magician. I am not the most powerful and wonderful magician, but I have become a better magician, because I have practiced. It helps most when I practice this wonderful magic, this writing everyday. It is an art. And the only tragedy is not doing it. Also, I know I am a magician because my new neighbor told me so. He informed me that my wife, children and I were just like the Weasleys. I think almost everyone here can understand how he sees us, what kind of people he thinks we are, because we have all read the books, or seen the films made from the books, and thus we have shared in the dreams of one lady from Scotland. It is a strange world, is it not?.
But was I born a magician or was I made? That is a good question. My parents are lovely people, but they are muggles. So perhaps I am more like Hermione Granger? Well… All that aside. I loved stories, and I wanted so desperately to read, so I could learn more stories. And maybe just maybe I could share some of my own.
I loved it when my mother would bring me to the library and would read to me. I loved it when my father would share his ancient Where the West Wind blows books. I loved when my teachers would take the time to read an entire novel to my class, and we would line up graciously to come in from recess if it meant we could find out what Omri was going to do to keep him magical cupboard and little friends a secret. This is what other people did for me.
And then, I relied on other people that I had never met, people that were even dead. I laughed out loud at Ramona Quimby’s antics and followed Andre Norton out into the cosmos. I started checking in every wardrobe to see if it would really take me to land beyond the lamppost.
My favorite assignments were having to write a story based on a picture by Chris van alls burg or to write whatever I wanted. Mrs. Payeur, my eighth grade teacher had us read all the time, things that most interested us. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and Robert Heinlen, and the Bagthorpe Chronicles by Helen Cresswell. She had us keep a journal and reflect on our reading. I remember after one entry she wrote a question in red pen: Do you think you are such a good writer, because you read so very much?
Yes, Mrs. Payeur, I do. Children are not too young to read, they just need to be pushed, to be shown the magic that lays in store for them. Then give them the opportunity to write. Mrs. Payeur gave us weekly writing assignments where I could write in any style I wanted. Soon I had other students giving me request. Give us a hunting story, Travis! They would demand. I did. Sure the hunter was soon being hunted by a viscious beast on another planet, but they were happy, and I was happy. There is no better thing than finding that one good thing you like to do and doing it.
Now, some warning. Things have not been always rosy for this magician. Magicians like me are by nature rather sensitive. It takes them a long time to develop the kind of tough hide they will need if they want to face the slush piles of magazine and book editors, to face constant rejection. If finding a date were as hard as getting published the world would soon be barren of human life all together. That’s why it is so vitally important to encourage children and cheer on their early efforts. For there are too many muggles, the worst kind of muggle, working with children. I can remember after I wrote a story about a father who loses a daughter and she becomes a doll, a precursor to the first story I would publish over twenty years later, I was filled with ecstasy. What fun it had been to write, and what fun it was to share this story with others. My teacher read it and said: This is pretty good. You are a good writer, but not professional material, you understand." Why did she say this to me? What good did it serve. I knew I was not professional yet, I was eleven years old. If a boy pitched an a no hitter in Little League, would you ever say to him, that was a pretty good game, but you are not pro - material?
Also, beware of the muggle guidance counselors. These are the people who think it is their duty to squash your dreams and take all the wind out of your sails. One of these muggles came to my class in eighth grade, asked us all what we wanted to do with our lives. When I said I wanted to be a writer, she told me that was a poor choice.
Who lets these people talk to children. There should be a law? Isn’t there a law? Anyway, one struggles everyday to keep positive whatever we do. I just wonder if there had been more people like my mom and like Mrs. Payeur and less people like those other muggles, If I wouldn’t have shared more of my stories at an earlier age. But, I’m sharing them now, just today I just got the news that my fourth short story will be published this summer. So far I have had two stories published in anthologies, one was selected to be in a best of anthology. The third story, that of a haunted carnival ride will be published in a magazine this spring. I have a few books written and about a thousand in my head, but right now I’m just trying to build up a resume and get an agent. It is weird. You need an agent to get published, but you need to get published in order to get an agent. You figure that one out.
But if I have any advice to those who want to write it would be this:
Read every day
Write every day
Always think: What if?
Keep a journal of all your crazy ideas and your dreams
Make faces at muggles and keep a supply of whoopy cushions handy, they need to get deflated know and then.
Write the kind of stories that you would love to read. Start out by writing stories about your favorite cartoon characters. Make a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, what if Laura Ingalls Wilder had to face down a band of zombie Natives with her pa’s hunting rifle? That’s how the best stories came to be. Look at Watership down, it’s about rabbits for goodness sakes, but I love it, and countless others love it, too.
And if you can’t think of anything write about what you know. Change the names. It is a good way to get your friends to read it. It is also a good way for you to see how interesting your life really is.

Just checked in my spam box...

Wow, what a day! Last night after getting back from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with my boy, I sat down to write up the speech for the Winter literacy drive party in Waterford and saw that my fourth story was accepted: "Mother Cassie Goes on Account". It is a fun fantasy adventure about an old witch who goes to get revenge and winds up becoming a pirate captain.

Then the literacy speech went really well. The kids and adults really seemed to dig the speech. I'll try to copy it in the next blog. Finally, the kids wanted me to keep reading my short unpublished story: "Arthur Penniman, Private First Class". I ran out of time, but it was nice to have some fans of all ages.

I woke up this morning, getting ready to take Brahms back down for a check up and results of all these tests and saw that someone wanted me to come read this story down in NY. Then I tried to figure out what they were talking about. Turns out a lot of my mail was going to the spam folder. Needless, to say, I was pretty excited. The weather is beautiful, so are my wife and children, and to top it all off, I have SIX stories published!

One is a piece of flash fiction entitled: "Uncle Silas Sat Around the Campfire". It is funny and twisted and I'm very excited that it will be anthologized in Fast Forward. The other is another funny and twisted story about a teacher who has burned out in most spectacular fashion. It is "Mr. Klein's Cancer", and it will be published in Necrotic Tissue Magazine. I really feel like things are coming together. Now back to the writing...


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My fourth acceptance!

Mother Cassie Goes on Account has found a home at the Lorelei Signal as of July 2010. It will also see print in Mystic Signals in August. I am so happy. I fell in love with Mother Cassie and her band of ragtag pirates as I wrote about them last summer. I plan to catch back up on her further adventures some time in the future. I am soooo happy.

I have been asked to speak tonight at Waterford School as a visiting writer for a literacy program. The news of the acceptance came just as I sat down to start writing the speech. I am sooo happy (did I mention that?).

I have been crafting together some plotlines for fantasy novels (probably young adult). I will keep everyone updated then.

Thanks for checking in on me.

Happy Spring!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Kings of the Realm is available to order!


Go here to get a copy of "The Dragon Wager" and 36 other stories and poems about dragons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best of Anthology

Christopher Jacobsmeyer, the editor, of Kings of the Realm just e-mailed me tonight. He wants to publish my short story, "The Dragon Wager" again in the Lame Goat Press Best of Anthology. Not too shabby. I am very honored. I can't wait for people to read the story. I get great satisfaction when people say they have read "The China People of Oz" and how much it moved them. It moved me, too, it was difficult to write. But, with "the Wager" I (hopefully) will make people laugh. And if that is the case, it is sort of like all the acting I did when I was younger. I might have moved people in "The Italian American Reconciliation" (I know, big old Celtic me playing a guy from Staten Island), but when I so much more enjoyed the laughs I got for those few seconds I was Starveling the Tailor in "A Midsummer's Night Dream". Laughing liberates us, and it unites us in common human understanding. I am just pickled tink at the thought of more people (hopefully) getting some benefit from my scribblings. I don't know when the best of Anthology will see print, but I will keep people updated. It will include the best of six anthologies of Lame Goat Press. Well, I am editing a story for a second round with a magazine (keep your fingers crossed for me, folks. My boy had a relatively positive check up at the big Hanover hospital. Grades are due, but everything still seems pretty O.K. from where I'm sitting right now. I hope they are for you, too.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kings of the Realm nears publication!


I was excited to see that the editor of Kings of the Realms has released the cover for the book. My story, "The Dragon Wager", will appear in it. It is a funny story, which will be a relief to some of you who found my first publication a tad melancholy. I am a man of many moods, and creatively, my work reflects that. I will keep everyone updated as to how to purchase a copy of the book, it will have some 37 dragon poems and stories. That is massive! Well, I haven't really been doing much writing. I have been busy with end of the quarter, massive family gatherings and everything that happens at this time of year. I hope to get some more time, soon. Till then...