Archive for the ‘Friends in Fiction’ Category

Favorite Scary Stories

Mysterious foggy forest with a fairytale lookIn honor of the scary, disturbing, creepy, and horror-related content we’re featuring this month we asked some of our favorite editors in the field to name their favorite scary story. Our own scary story contest closes on Wednesday, so be sure to submit while you can. For inspiration, here’s what seven editors consider to be truly scary.

Rob Spillman, Tin House: The Shining by Stephen King

At the beginning of my seventeenth summer a car blitzed through a yield sign on a rural, upstate New York road and hit my car head on while we were both going 60 mph. I walked away from the flaming cars, barely scathed, but with a concussion. I had just finished my first dismal year of college (another, longer story) and with the insurance-bought replacement car drove from Baltimore to Aspen to find work. Back then there was a down season between winter and summer, when businesses boarded up for the dreary spring. When they opened back up I was there, begging for work. I rented a cheap, dreary room in a rundown ski lodge. Most days it was in the 40s and raining, icy at night, and my friends who came out for the summer music festival were yet to arrive. When I wasn’t shuffling around looking for work, I read THE SHINING. Reading about a spooky off-season Colorado hotel while inside of a spooky off-season hotel while still mentally fuzzy from flying through a car window at 60mph was the single most terrifying reading experience I have ever had. “Redrum” still gives me chills.

John Joseph Adams, Lightspeed: “Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk

“Guts” is one of those stories that if you dig it, you probably really, really dig it, and once you start reading it, you’re not going to stop. I often say that I don’t believe in horror as a genre—that I see it as only a descriptor you can apply to other genres—i.e., a horrific fantasy, or a horrific science fiction story, or a story of psychological horror—but does not exist independently as a genre unto itself. But reading a story like “Guts” makes me rethink that idea. It’s utterly compelling and COMPLETELY FUCKING HORRIFYING (sorry, you just kind of have to swear when talking about it), and reading it is such a visceral experience that I find myself actually tense and cringing as I read it—even when re-reading it, knowing how it ends! (And once you know how it ends, you’ll NEVER FORGET HOW IT ENDS.) If I can find and publish something like “Guts”—something that effects the reader on such a visceral level, something that is so indelibly memorable, then I feel I’ll have done my job as editor.

Gabriel Blackwell; The Collagist: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first read Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” in eighth grade; it was assigned reading. I’m sure we talked about the idea of the unreliable narrator—whether the whole thing was “real” or in the narrator’s head—and if I’m being honest, that’s what I remember best about the story (if you’ve read it, it’s probably what you remember best about it, too). But to find a story scary requires a certain amount of credulity, and I’d rather take the narrator at her word anyway: “Most women do not creep by daylight.” That seems sane, doesn’t it? (Then again, if you’re seeing these women creeping all around you, maybe not so much?) If we trust the narrator, what we have is sort of like The Ring, only with details taken from Daniel Paul Schreber’s account of schizophrenia, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. If that’s what’s inside your head, I guess that’s scary, too.


Friends in Fiction: The Short Anthology

bookThe Short Anthology  is proud to announce its first issue available online, and listen friends, this is a cool project. Each issue of The Short Anthology uses work from a photographer as inspiration for fiction.

This first issue involved writers from around the world interpreting of a set of eight photographs. The photos were taken by Joe Coleman and featured images of the sea from Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. The stories range from science fiction set in Uganda, to a story about immigration and loneliness in Dover, UK.

It’s a great concept, and cool use of art providing inspiration for writing. For more information you can contact the editors at: editors (at) theshortanthology (dot) com. And for a better taste of their style, check out a photo from the interior, below.



Thanks for Giving… Books 2013

In honor of Thanksgiving we’re highlighting a few ways for you to make a difference with your stacks of old books. Sure, you could sell your used titles back for a measly few bucks, but wouldn’t it feel better knowing you’ve made a difference? Thought so. Read on.

Better World Books – We don’t want to play favorites, but Better World Books is an excellent way to go if you don’t live near a drop site and you want your books to make a big difference. All you need to do is box up your old books and print a shipping label from their site. No need to fret, BWB will pay the shipping and either donate your book or resell it in order to raise money for charity. But it doesn’t stop there. Their site is full of some really great initiatives (for every book you buy from them, they donate one!), so take some time to check out all the great stuff they have to offer.

Libraries Without Borders –  This site is a great way to benefit libraries and library projects around the world. They stock libraries, train librarians, provide support to create and build new libraries, and they work to computerize library systems. If you have a soft spot for the little library card in your wallet, consider donating books to their cause.

Books for Soldiers and Operation Paperback – Both of these organizations are a great way to get books to our troops. Though they’re run differently, you register on both sites in order to get information on requested books from soldiers. Then you ship directly to the organization or soldier. And no need to worry about shipping costs. Both offer really affordable ways to send your books overseas.

Books for Africa –  According to their site, Books for Africa is, “A simple name for an organization with a simple mission. We collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.” This organization has good cause written all over it. Though the donations do have restrictions, it’s an excellent way to get involved with promoting literacy and learning.

Book Up – Run by the National Book Award, this organization focuses on getting kids in middle school (a time when research shows kids are most likely to stop reading) into books. “The program introduces activities that emphasize reading as both fun and interactive, all designed to improve students’ social/emotional skills along with their reading skills, and build the confidence necessary to become engaged citizens as adults.” Great cause.

New: Connu, Curated Short Stories

connuingAttention readers, writers, and anyone who loves a good story. Connu is a new app available through iTunes in which today’s best and most established literary voices recommend up-and-coming writers. It’s as if you asked Joyce Carol Oates which new author she’s most excited about reading and then she handed you a story from that author. It’s pretty fantastic. Many of these well-known writers have also contributed stories themselves, so it’s like a literary pool of awesome in which you get to enjoy seasoned, established writing, and be first to see some of today’s best up-and-comers.

And lo, there are a few Masters Review voices on the Connu scene. Masters Review Volume I author Rachel Warecki has contributed a story, as well as Masters Review 2012 judge, Lauren Groff.

The app is currently in beta, which means it’s free to download and enjoy… for now. So run — don’t walk — and get your hands on today’s best new literary fiction app.

Literary Friends: Podmasters Podcast


Meet the Postmasters Podcast, whose focus is “writing and life after the MFA.” Proudced by Lesley University MFA-ers Audrey Camp and Lacy Mayberry, this monthly podcast offers discussions on writing and life as they pertain to those recently graduated or currently pursuing an MFA. Their in-depth examinations on the practicalities of life as a writer appeal to authors of all backgrounds and pursuits, as their discussions often focus on craft, technique, and strategies for writers.

Recently, Masters Review author and fellow Lesley University student Courtney Gillette, stopped by the podcast to read a portion of her story “How to Like Girls” publishing in The Masters Review this fall.

We laughed out loud when Courtney discussed her grade-school friends’ names, and we fell in love with her essay a little more after hearing her read it. We encourage anyone with graduate-level creative writing credentials to visit the podcast. It’s a project full of warmth and insight, and is a wonderful way for the Lesley University community of MFA writers to expand to others.

Check out Courtney’s interview, here.

Friends in Fiction – One Story’s The Prospects


One Story is a non-profit literary publisher that has been around for over a decade. Their accolades include numerous Pushcart Prizes, Best American Mystery, Best American Short Stories, among many others. Every three weeks One Story’s 15,000 + subscribers receive a short story from a new author. One Story only publishes an author once, ensuring readers experience new voices through their subscription. They are true literary heavy hitters and always deliver.

This week we read One Story’s “The Prospects” by Michelle Seaton. “The Prospects” is told from an omniscient perspective, addressing characters by group as opposed to name or any other singular moniker. The story examines football recruiting, particularly by following ‘The Prospects’ and ‘The Recruiters’ through their shared experience in football, while The Prospects are being evaluated, chosen, and plucked from their high school celebrity status into more challenging roles as college athletes. There is a real youthful quality to this story, and a strong sense of hope and ego among The Prospects when we first meet them, and yet a darkness permeates. Seaton, who is a seasoned sports journalist, applies a lens to the micro-environment of college recruiting in a way that is sad, sympathetic, and also raises questions. For anyone who attended high school where football reigned supreme, the way Seaton’s Prospects are hailed as super stars is eerily familiar. However, a transformation occurs when we meet The Recruiters, who treat and manipulate these athletes through the promise of a bright and shiny future. The boys are seen as a commodity and The Recruiters — sad in their own right — maintain a power over them. They are the gate keepers of their future, and yet they’ve been battered and broken by the same athletic careers they are pushing.

Within the story of The Prospects and The Recruiters is a clear stance on the controversies behind football. How recruiting is conducted as well as how injuries are ignored. What I liked most about this story is how a very real topic is conveyed through such a lovely literary telling. With current controversy in baseball, the Penn State scandal last year, and the increased attention on the health of our football players, this story has a relevancy that made “The Prospects” especially fun to read.

Readers: One Story’s past and current issues can be found here, along with their subscription details.

Writers: Submissions for One Story are open from September through June. Get those stories polished!

By Kim Winternheimer