Sunday, February 5, 2017

Flash Fiction story for Women in Horror Month

It's February and Women in Horror month. I wish we didn't need it, but we still do. It's getting better, it's changing, but slowly. I edited FRIGHT MARE-WOMEN WRITE HORROR, an anthology of women writers and to my surprise, it made the preliminary ballot in HWA. I wanted to shine a light on the disparity between stories in anthologies and magazines where the number of male slots and female seemed off balance. Ten male writers and two female? It wouldn't be a problem if it didn't happen over and over and over again. Now women are being targeted to be discriminated against by a President who seems to have no respect for women. There's a lot of work to do and vigilance to keep. No one, male or female, should support discrimination in any form. That's what WiHM is all about.

Now for the fun stuff. Want to read a flash fiction story I wrote? It's 420 words. I hope you enjoy it. I am not a political animal, but I've always stood up for the abused, downtrodden, and people who live in an unjust world. I come from a long line of strong women personalities. As a writer, I have little impact, but what I do possess goes for justice and equality. For everyone.

It's Super Bowl Sunday. Take a little five-minute break and read a story. It might do you good.

AVENGE MY DARLING
By
Billie Sue Mosiman
Copyright 2017

Knocking my head against the tree makes it feel better. Makes me think hard. It all escapes me if I can’t think.

Blood pours from my scalp into my eyes, but I can see. Still see it. Sara taking the knife into the bathtub with her. Coming home from the fields to call and whistle and laugh that she might be hiding, then finding her floating in bloody water. Lost my laugh, lost my breath. Pulled her to me and wept bitter tears that she couldn’t last out.

Knocking my head on the tree again, silence in the forest, no birds, no animal to be my friend. In the distance the thunder of warfare. Artillery fire, the bombardment of canon, and jet strafing.

I don’t care. Why care now when I’m all alone? I told her, Sara, we’ll be all right here. We’re far out in the country, nothing but cattle for miles. You’re having our baby, Sara, I’ll protect us if they come, I swear it.

She was no fool. She knew there was no way out. We couldn’t leave the country, our proud country gone to hate and ruin. We had nowhere else to flee and hide. We were one couple in the middle of rangeland. All the other ranchers had gone off…somewhere. I told her we were perfectly safe here. Who would want us? Who would hate us that much?

Getting off the tractor once I saw the jets overhead, I hurried to the house and meant to make light of it. We’d survive maybe if we went down the trapdoor to the small area I’d built under the floor. I’d convince her this was nothing. We were as safe as anyone could be.

The war sounds neared and I turned from the tree to see the advancing army. They marched behind Jeeps and kept their gazes forward. They could see my house now and veered that direction.

I wiped the red fog from my eyes to watch. Relentless, like cockroaches, swarming, they rushed the house. All they’d find was Sara in the bathtub floating in her own blood.

As for me, I meant to outrun them, cut their throats in the dark, and disappear again. It was their fault my Sara couldn’t last out.

I could. I could outlast eternity now I had nothing to live for. I was bloodied, but not dead. Not caring if I died, I’d make a formidable enemy.

Slipping into the thick trees I hurried away.

I’d be back in the twilight darkness.

I’d be back to avenge my darling.

------------------


My latest novel on sale only today for $.99. LOSTNESS, a dark fantasy sequel to BANISHED.

ON SALE $.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N15KFMO/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_awdo_t2_uWhLybDDWQBDP



Sunday, January 29, 2017

LOSTNESS, a novel

A couple of years ago I wrote a novel titled BANISHED, about a fallen angel who takes the body, mistakenly, of a ten-year-old girl on the historical island of Haiti. We follow her adventures over three hundred years as she leaves the island and lives first in Europe and then in the New World of America.

I was fascinated with all the problems an adult and mature being might face locked in the body of a child. How would she survive? How would she travel? How could she care for herself?

Angelique was the vessel for this fallen angel, brought to life in a dead child with the help of a shaman. From the beginning, she ruled the people who were superstitious and thought her god-like.

So many readers were intrigued with Angelique and her tale that I knew she had to make a reappearance. It took a while. I had a part of the book, but realized it was set too far into the future. I dialed it back to 1939 and had a backdrop of the Depression and the World War. More characters came forward, more fallen angels, more strange and wonderful people who gravitated to Angelique's former angel partner, Nick.

When completed LOSTNESS, the sequel of BANISHED, was short, but not by much. I let it be what it wanted to be. Just shy of 50,000 words it is still a novel, albeit a shorter one than usual for me.

Angelique is in pursuit of Nick, who she feels betrayed and abandoned her. Nick has left the USA for Europe just in time for the world war to begin. He has no idea Angelique even lives, much less that she's searching for him.

I've had the best time dealing with these various fallen angels and how they do or do not grow a conscience. Without one, we are less than human, and really are more monster--like Angelique.

I'm hoping LOSTNESS is received as was BANISHED. Readers reacted to the first book with five-star reviews.

I contemplate a third book with the characters, making a trilogy as I did with my vampires in the Vampire Chronicle books. It may depend on how well my audience reacts to LOSTNESS.

If you want to know more about Angelique there's an introduction to her here on my blog--a free story titled ANGELIQUE. Please help yourself to it to find out what the child-angel is like and how she came to be.

Here's a link to both BANISHED and LOSTNESS on Amazon. I welcome you to my world with open wings...

Free Story-Angelique

BANISHED


LOSTNESS

Monday, June 20, 2016

RUDE AND UNCARING GENRE BASHERS


      I heard of an author of horror recently who was accosted at a bookstore signing by a person loudly proclaiming he doesn’t read horror, doesn’t like it, and blah blah blah tinklely poo shit blah.

I had that happen at a big book signing at a conference in a hotel and didn’t know most of the other author attendees were romance writers. There I sat with my first novel, WIREMAN, called horror on the cover, but in truth was a suspense novel. It happened to be graphic in spots and real-to-life about the serial murders so in 1984 it got labeled horror. Which was okay by me. I was legitimately published and had no choice what genre my work was put into anyway, why cry over it? It’s pretty horrific, I admit.

      Two women came to my table, picked up the paperback and one said, “Oh, I don’t read this stuff.” The other remarked, “No, me either, that’s scary horror stuff.” They walked off and I think left me with my mouth hanging open. They weren’t the last to drop by to voice their dislike for the work I’d done. My girls were teens and hearing these people they were flabbergasted at the rudeness. The unthinking, uncaring way their mother was being treated. I was simply sad. And angry that I was being slotted and treated like an outcast.

     No matter what kind of writers were present this was uncalled for. Today I have thoughts I’d like to share with readers of any genre or mainstream literature who might dismiss horror for one reason or another.

Have some respect. I would say this today: Have you no manners? Go back to your grandmother’s knee and learn some. Oh, there are no manners or class taught in your family? Then learn it yourself.     
     There is no excuse for speaking ill of work right in front of the author. You can think it, that’s fine, that’s called freedom, but if you speak it you prove you are ignorant of genre in general, horror in the specific, and literature on the whole. I would ask this of you. Have you read the classic FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley? That, dear, is horror and mystery and literature. Have you ever seen a car wreck or been in one? That’s horror. Have you lain on a hospital gurney knowing your young son is dead in a fire? That’s ultimate horror. Have you had cancer and beat it—at least for a while? That’s horror. Have you read EAST OF EDEN, STRANGER ON THE TRAIN, MOSQUITO COAST, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, the BIBLE? There’s plenty of horror in those tomes and hundreds more, but the genre label isn’t on them.

     I’m happy you enjoy romance and I understand you dislike the violence of my work, I don't give a happy damn about your reading preferences, but if ever again you say it to my face, I will tell you these things.
     Have you lost someone you loved? Have you been betrayed by friends or family or spouse? Have you lost work and been in despair? Are you even faintly human?
     Have you any reason whatsoever to dismiss a working author about her work whether it’s a comic book, a child’s picture book, a self-help book, a mystery, a comedy, or….a book of horror. In her face. That author who worked more than a year on her novel, who worried over it and gave it her best shot and believed she had something to say and a story to tell no one else could tell. You would speak in front of her children these things and not care. How hard-hearted a fool are you and from what pig clan wallow did you arise from?

     Don’t speak to me about freedom of speech and people can say anything and it’s all right. It is NOT all right. It is RUDE. It is UNCARING. It shows you as a common person without good manners and good intelligence, otherwise you would not do it.

     I could teach you things you need to know with my horror. I could break your heart and make you weep. I could touch you deep where your heart resides. I could show you evil so you recognize it when it comes upon you. I could give you hope not all men or women are bad or criminal, and in fact, most of them are good and kind and upright. I could show you justice and humanity. But you will miss out on these lessons from inside the stories because…you “don’t like or read THAT stuff.”

     The least you can do is be ashamed of yourself for judging what you do not know. I know nothing of romance fiction, though I've read a bit of it, so I would never in a million years speak before an author of romance to say I don’t read THAT stuff. I wouldn’t do that to a friend, and all writers are my friends, and I certainly wouldn’t do that to a stranger. An author. Of a horror or any other kind of book.

     From now on try to curb your ugly, judgmental tongue. Or I will label YOU and it shall be called RUDE and UNCARING. The label will also read in small letters--IGNORANT OF GENRE AND LITERATURE IN GENERAL.

     I will. I swear I will.
     Do I sound angry at you, hey you there without a defense? You betcha. You mess with my compadres or mess with me, I'll feel no compunction about telling you what I think of your unasked-for opinion of genre novels. None at all. I'm not a young woman with a first novel anymore. I've earned my rank and I know how to use it.
     I swear it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

FREE Short Stories--A Holiday Present for You

Please take advantage of my offering of two e-books. One is a short story, CARNIVAL FREAK,  and the other is a book of 14 short stories, SINISTER.

I make these free for the next couple of days to help you become acquainted with my works and to give away what I do with my life--writing stories and novels.

I do hope you enjoy them and might leave a review. The links are below. They're FREE. Happy Holidays!

SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD-2013

CARNIVAL FREAK

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CEMETERY of THE SOUTH-THE DEAD DREAMING

I should have written this near Halloween, but I was too busy. A writer friend is going to do a book on Cemetery Travel true stories and it really excited my memory of a place I found to be peaceful when I was a little girl.

We lived in Helena, Arkansas and I was thirteen. In the summer I'd make a sack lunch, take a book, hop on my bike, and ride off across the hills and ravines to the Civil War cemetery that draped across a hill, the old tombstones rising step by step up into thick woods. It was a well-kept place, with the pathways smooth dirt; the grassy areas where the graves resided was the green of emerald deep water. Black cast iron gates opened at the bottom and I would push my bike, lunch sack in the basket, up the path. I was alone and relished the pure peace emanating from this place. I'd been taught in school about the Civil War and here lay many of that war's dead. Yet it wasn't a sad place and I felt no unhappy spirits lingering. It felt more like a lovely park for imaginative children than a haunted arena of long lost souls.

I'd turn off the path into the smaller paths leading between the graves. Later I discovered there had been a tremendous battle in Helena, with the Confederates defending the city and the Union in massive war ships coming in their determined way down the Mississippi River to raid and conquer. Hundreds of tombstones lay on this long hill testifying to the outcome.

I'd put aside my bike, and walk slowly, softly among the tombstones, curiously reading the names and dates of death. No one ever seemed to visit this open, historical cemetery. I was always alone and preferred it that way. No one worried about their children going off on their own for the day unaccompanied. I never felt threatened, worried, or afraid some male stranger might come by to whisk me into oblivion. It never crossed my mind the way it would today.

I found peace in this ancient cemetery. I contemplated the battle these soldiers had fought, the pure bravery, misery, and insanity of it all. I'd run my hand over the rough, pitted stone of the angels and statues. After visiting with the dead, I'd return to my bike and get the book and the lunch. I'd go walking again and find a spot on the amazing grass in shade and lean my back against a tombstone. There hours would pass as the sun skimmed over the surrounding forest, the tombstone shadows leaning, upright, then leaning again down toward twilight.

Birds sang and that's all. No person traversed this place and through the summer I began to feel it was my special, secret place, the only place I could find quiet and harmony. At noon I'd eat my meager lunch--baloney sandwich and sometimes an apple or banana. I'd grow sleepy and doze a bit sitting up.

No one came to intrude. I was not lonely or sad or afraid. It was peace I sought and peace I found. I went to this cemetery day after day, many times throughout that summer. One day a friend who lived down the street and with whom I crossed the levee and went down into the delta left fertile and growing corn until the Mississippi came roaring back into the land, asked me where I went every day on my bike. "You don't come back until almost dark," she said.

I told her I'd take her there, my place, and show her. The next morning we both rode off on our bikes and when I turned into the black gates with the toothy stones sticking up row after row up the hillside, my friend paused, stopping abruptly at the gate. "This is a cemetery," she said.

I told her I knew that, come on in, it wasn't scary at all. She came slowly following behind me and I showed her the marvelous pathways, the soft grass, the names and sayings and dates on the markers. None of the tombstones leaned. It was all as pristine and perfect as cookies laid out on a slanting platter.

"But what do you do here? It's so empty."

No, it was filled, I told her, absolutely crammed with people but they were silent now and left me alone.

Her eyebrows rose and I knew then, if not before, that I might be an eccentric child. Today thirteen year old girls wear make-up and short tops and dance to music I don't understand. In my thirteenth year I was a child, a real child, a little girl. Yes, I was on the cusp of becoming woman, but not today, not on this day.

We sat and nibbled on our lunches while I went on about how marvelous was this place. How silent and peaceful. How welcoming. I urged my friend to listen to the birdsong. I pointed to where the shadows grew and withdrew. I told her to listen, just listen, and wasn't it the best silence she'd ever heard? No adults talking, no car horns, no radio music. It was pure here and clean and peace lay over it all. When here I walked carefully not to step on a grave. I tried not to rustle my paper sack too loudly or scrape the rocks on the path with my bike tires. If there was serenity anywhere in Helena, Arkansas it was here and only here and I'd luckily discovered it, my secret hideout.

We left early and I don't remember that girl being much of a friend anymore. I understand the reasoning for that now, but it was a little hurtful at thirteen. What had I done so wrong? Was it weird to like to spend time reading and dozing in a cemetery of the war dead?

But I wasn't going to change or pretend I was not interested and happy in the Civil War cemetery. I still rose early, slipped out of the house with my lunch sack and book, and ran off on my bike every day I could.

It's possible that's the place where I learned to concentrate. I learned so well that when grown and working as a novelist I could hold a thought in my head, leave it to get my children water or food, come back and pick up with the very next word in the middle of a sentence.

It's the place that taught me not to fear the dead and their brethren. After so many years they'd departed those grassy graves or they lay quietly waiting. They had no truck with the living world, having done their best and moving on.

Odd places like cemeteries can be a place of not just solitude, but of learning, and of acceptance of one's own strangeness.

We will all go there, those who desire burial, into the earth. Having spent a summer in a graveyard was an adventure, a revelation, and one of the best summers I remember.

I don't know how the cemetery fares today, but being a national one I expect it to be the same. Gray stones rising up and up and up until the woods halt the advance. Acres of the dead reminding us of what civil strife can cause, of what we can head toward if we begin to hate one another because of race or discontent.

But once we load the musket, bring it to the shoulder to aim, and let loose Death against another man, woman, or child then we at least might meet the dark grave and grow at last cold and silent.  It's even possible a little girl walks the paths above us, reading her books and dreaming easily of days past and future. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Haters Trying to Take Down Writers

I was contacted about troubles a writer is having dealing with people via the internet. I don't know the specifics, but I want to address the situation because I've seen quite a lot of this. I don't understand it and I certainly don't condone it.

Look, people believe different things. People can't all be alike. But under the flesh the heart is the same and the blood is red and the world turns on. It's difficult sometimes today to post an opinion without someone--someone--finding it offensive and making mean, cruel remarks. It's happened on my wall on Facebook, for instance, and I either shame the person or delete his comments and delete him from my circle. I don't play. I don't have time for that noise.

But some people tend to gang up and go after certain writers. They do it, why? I really don't know. And I'm not the policer of manners, but I do know if you have no respect for others, you can't have respect for yourself. Hate and venom is like a cloud and spewing it touches the person who indulges it. You can't be a good person if you're spending time being bitter, cruel, and malicious. Aren't we supposed to be a good person? Does a good person engage in hatefulness? I think not.

What do these people do? In the worst stage they try to ruin a writer's reputation. They set up dummy accounts on Facebook and Amazon to leave comments and one-star reviews. They form groups and gossip. You'd think people would be too busy to do things like this. You'd think they had more profitable avenues to pursue than to bring down someone they don't know.

I don't know what is to be done about this or why it even happened. Only two or three years ago the internet was a pleasant, happy place for writers. Mostly, it still is. I'm just talking about how a new trend seems to be rising where disruption and disrespect for one another has been degrading social media. It's a shame, really. I guess we could blame it on the deterioration of society in general, the malaise and anxiety so rampant, the loss of jobs and money, the fear of the future. Still, how is taking out frustrations on others going to make things better? Is there a deeper sense of separation and jealousy than there used to be or are people just more willing to act out of desperation and envy today? Whatever it is, I sound a warning that this is no way to go.

My friend, Robert Stanek, has been experiencing a wave of haters and this must really cease. Here's his link Robert Stanek. He's been an author twenty years and supports writers and indies. He says, " I have supported other writers my whole career, early on with sites like Writer's Gallery and for the past 10 years with Go Indie, Free Today and Read Indies." Why would a man like this be disrespected and attacked?

When you see writers (or others, for that matter) being targeted, speak up. Talk back to the cruelty. Write a blog about it. Let everyone know you stand up for respect and being mannerly and kind to others. It costs so little to be nice and it costs so much to denigrate others--costs them and you. We don't need this, people. When life gets rough and there's a trench between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, haves and have-nots, the worst thing we can do is turn on one another. Hurting someone else doesn't pump you up. It brings us all down.

Can you disagree politely? Of course. Can you still like someone even if he or she holds different beliefs? Oh, good gracious, why can't you? If someone makes a mistake of some sort, does it have to be pointed out because you feel aggressive? Is your sadness and discontent so deep the only way to make yourself feel better is to try to hurt or destroy others, often strangers to you?

Robert Stanek has done great services for other writers and continues to do so. Come to his support and run off the badgers. Stand up to the screamers, the haters, the horrible and help make the world a better place.

You'll be doing yourself a favor.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why Stories Fail

A list of reasons short stories fail.

1-the story is an idea, not a story.
2-the ending is telegraphed too early.
3-the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.
4-the story is aimless, wandering, and wordy.
5-the writing is too stiff and impersonal.
6-half the story is all backstory.
7-logic is thrown to the wind so readers don't buy it.
8-the plot is old, overused, and boring.
9-the pacing is screwed--either too fast, not fast enough, no variety in the pacing.
10-the writing is too precious, too pedantic, or riddled with cliche.

That's the top ten. I know we can all think of ten or fifty more.  They say the short story is easy to write. It is if you know what you're doing. It's a disaster if you wing it and have never practiced the form. The short story is an age-old part of storytelling and those who are best at it are marvelous. We have to take the writing of short stories serious. I will call it an art form, for it is. It's as artful as a poem or a novel without being either.

When short stories fail, we all lose. Be a Bradbury. A Poe. Be marvelous.