story

Fearful Fathoms: Tales of Aquatic Horror

FF How Deep Does Your Fear Go

If you missed it on Facebook, here it is again: Exciting news! My short story Crude Lake was accepted into Fearful Fathoms: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. This anthology is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2017 by Scarlet Galleon Publications. I’m so excited for this anthology and to work with Mark Parker, Publisher & Managing Editor at Scarlet Galleon Publications. Here’s a portion of the acceptance letter that made a dream come true.Crude Lake

“Scarlet Galleon Publications thanks you for your submission to FEARFUL FATHOMS: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. We enjoyed reading your submission and truly appreciate you sharing it with us. We are writing to let you know that your submission “Crude Lake” has been selected for inclusion in the final anthology. It is an honor and pleasure to have you on board!”

Romancing the Words: The Outlining Pantser

Book-And-Love-Photos-1600x1026The romance of being a pantser is alluring. The lustful sense in the writer’s mind to pantser is one that draws us to sit down and start writing. Go where the imagination goes. Throw caution to the wind! As adventurous and sexy as this sounds I’m here to tell you something Dr. Ruth once told my generation: have protection! That protection doesn’t come in the form of a pill or latex sleeve, but in the form of an outline.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of one over the other. We all have our own method, and choose what works best; it’s a personal choice. I’m sure all of us, outliner or not, have at one point or another found ourselves with a story-spark that requires some panster power to get it down. We sit. We write. We find ourselves 500 words along and the story keeps coming, and it feels like a release of imaginative tension. When you’re done, you might light a smoke, have a glass of wine or just catch your breath from the best write ever. But depending on the depth of your piece, the size of it (does size matter?) you may find yourself with a story that’s thundering with loose ends. That’s when wearing an outliner’s rain coat will protect you, but if you feel comfortable in the storm then pantser away.storms

You’re probably wondering what method I use when I write. I have to admit, I love to be a pantser but I’ve found a good outline helps to keep my wild-side in check, so I enlist both methods. Here’s how I do it: Pantser that story-spark. Sweat and moan that idea into the best story synopsis you ever wrote – best write ever! Then take that synopsis and whip it with an outline. Now you’re ready to spend some quality time romancing your words. Love your story, and you’ll see the prose mature with depth and meaningful arc. Now for the fun. Between the points of your outline get naked and pantser between the sheets, of paper. That’s right, connect the dots of your outline points by drafting your story in panster mode. I get the best of both worlds as an outlining panster.

I find outlining helps nurture a good working relationship with my pantser self. Ultimately each of us chooses our own path, we learn by doing, and through this we discover our own rhythmic method to writing.

What method do you prefer? How do you do it? Do you stick with one method over the other or blend?

10 Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors from HarperCollins Canada Editors!

From the horse’s mouth! A great post for aspiring authors, dig in and eat it up!

At the beginning of the year, we asked some of our fellow Savvy Readers what their New Year’s resolutions were. In addition to reading more, many of you said that you’d like to focus on writing in 2014. As the halfway point of the year approaches, we want to motivate you to work towards your goal… and asked 10 editors from HarperCollins Canada to help! Below, professional editors (whose expertise range from Cookbooks to Fiction, Non-fiction to Children’s Books) share their #1 piece of advice.

Read on, because regardless of whether you write for pleasure or are an aspiring author, I’m sure you can find something helpful from the tips below.

1. Read! 

“Read, read widely and read for your enjoyment. Read outside of your usual genres, read books on the bestseller list and talk about the books you love.”

—Brad Wilson, Editorial Director (Collins).

2. Don’t Focus On Your Ending

“In fiction, there is a temptation to write…

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Nano Fiction: Prisoner

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Prisoner” as inspired by Joanna Malcolm’s posted artwork.TwoPointsofViewL

Prisoner

By Darryl Foster

The scent of brine and the essence of freedom sail in through my window. I love to watch the sea, listen to the crash of waves and pretend to feel sand between my toes, but I will not venture out there. The burden in my soul is the weight of my own ship’s anchor, a fear that I carry and can not control. It keeps me here in this tortuous mind, a prisoner, a function of dysfunction, and although I feel my spirit is locked away, it’s my ghost that yearns for freedom beyond this body, my prison without walls.

What Lurks in The Deep? A Book Review of Nick Cutter’s, The Deep

TheDeep TPB frt v2ABOUT THE BOOK: From the acclaimed author of The Troop—which Stephen King raved “scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down.…old-school horror at its best”—comes this utterly terrifying novel where The Abyss meets The Shining.

A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget—small things at first, like where they left their keys…then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths…and perhaps to encounter an evil blacker than anything one could possibly imagine.

THE AUTHOR: When I was introduced to Nick Cutter via Twitter in February 2014 I was on a business trip in San Diego. My Twitter feed was on fire with this Nick Cutter fellow whose book came with a Stephen King endorsement “…scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down…” –the King had spoken, and my book-alert siren went off like the Starship Enterprise was under attack. Number-One, set new course for the local book store, engage. Warp drive is a little slow on the San Diego transit system, but soon my cash-energized tractor beam brought The Troop into my hands. The book proved to be an incredible novel of raw horror…and I couldn’t put it down.

Flash forward eight months to October 25, 2015: Creemore, Ontario and the IFOA had come to town. When I first met Nick Cutter (aka Craig Davidson) I thought I could wrestle him for an ARC copy of The Deep, but his tall gait and suspicious armband tattoo told me I was dealing with an Alpha Male, and it kept me civil in my seat. At the end of the author presentations I approached Nick to sign my copy of The Troop, and to my surprise “because it never hurts to ask” he had an ARC copy of The Deep for me. Inside my eyes went puffy, red and teary like a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, oh joy, but on the outside a cool composure, and a modest “thank you” prevailed. Mr. Cutter, you have a fan for life.

Bathyscaphe_TriesteMY REVIEW: How deep is The Deep? Oh, it’s crushingly deep. The Trieste submersible platform (the island of this novel) is deep in the Mariana Trench where life has to evolve to withstand the pressure of 15,750 pounds per square inch (thank you Wikipedia). But as deep as the Trieste is under the Pacific, there is another deep, one that also has crushing depths and it’s found in the fathoms of the human mind: madness.

The Deep has a tagline, “…the Shining meets the Abyss…” and that intersection is both chilling and surprising in the book.

The Deep follows the main character Luke on a thrilling ride to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the Trieste platform where his brother Clayton, a scientist, is researching a substance called Ambrosia, found on the sea floor. Ambrosia represents a possible cure for a disease called the ‘Gets that plagues the surface, and is the reason why Cutter has us swimming in the deep end of the pool. Before and after we dock with the Trieste, Cutter has us strapped into a narrative-roller-coaster that tunnels deep into the darkest depths of Luke’s consciousness. The novel is both a trip to the bottom of the ocean, as it is a trip through the hollows of a tortured mind. Throughout the book brilliantly written flashbacks pick away at the fears we all carry in ourselves, and those fears are amplified in Luke, escalated by the airtight confines of the seemingly haunted, metal-creaking Trieste.Lurker

Nick Cutter scuttles any chance for a life preserver and holds nothing back in The Deep. He’s a Literary Artist hell-bent on painting grotesque images with nerve-shattering detail, bringing to life scratch-and-sniff scenes that will make you feel like you’re experiencing the book through your senses. The madness, the horror, the tight claustrophobic places intended to strangle your mind are all key in setting the stage for a classic horror novel under the sea with a surprise ending that hits an even deeper note than you can imagine.

The Deep, as was The Troop, are my top horror reads for 2014. Publication date for The Deep is set for January 13, 2015 from Gallery Books. Order here from Amazon.

Darryl Foster

HORROR HAS A RISING TALENT: Book Review of Mark Cassell’s, The Shadow Fabric

ABOUT THE SHADOW FABRIC: Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone…including himself. Now Leo must confront the truth about his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist. THE SHADOW FABRIC is a story revealing the unknown history of witchcraft and the true cause of the Great Fire of London. A supernatural horror novel of sins, shadows, and the reanimated dead.The Shadow Fabric

MY REVIEW: Mark Cassell’s debut novel The Shadow Fabric is an action packed tale of supernatural horror. The book follows the journey of Cassell’s main character Leo. A car accident in Leo’s past had wiped out his memory. In his new life, post-accident, he struggles to recall the memories of his former life. Now, Leo finds himself working for a mysterious man named Victor Jacobs. Victor has secrets, ages old, and Leo quickly finds himself propelled into the secret and deadly world of the twisted Shadow Fabric.

Cassell has written a fast moving novel with a fascinating evil. He navigates us through a mysterious plot, and introduces us to a number of characters, ancient artifacts and legends that are all entwined with the Shadow Fabric. Cassell has effectively created a world at the edge of darkness, and he slaps us consistently with thrills and chills that will make you feel like you’re reading a movie.

Cassell’s marketing and author platform is outstanding, and his imagination is immense, as revealed by the unfolding of the Shadow Fabric mythos in the novel. He is an author with an online presence that clearly demonstrates a dedication to his craft.

I enjoyed reading and discovering the horrors of the Shadow Fabric and all its macabre wonders. If you’re a fan of classic paranormal horror then take the time to read Mark Cassell’s The Shadow Fabric. He has undoubtedly weaved a world by which legends of horror are born. I expect more great works will bleed from this author.

“Praise for Mark Cassell, a rising talent in horror.” ~ Darryl Foster

Writer Health: A Sitting-Society

First of all, credit where credit is due: thank you to ASAP Science for a vital (signs) reminder! And thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for retweeting this topic, one all writers should take to heart, literally. Puns aside: watch the video from ASAP Science then commit to changing your life with a fitness plan. Do it for you, and for your love of writing.

So, we’ve become a Sitting-Society. Most of us hold down full time jobs at a desk and add more hours to the time we sit by plopping down in front of our writing desks. My survival instinct tells me it’s time for a change. A healthy life will extend your years and the time you have to sow your prose.

I find, during and after, a good 30 minute workout in the gym, my blood is pumping and there’s a surge of energy coursing through my veins that leaves me feeling energized all day. Activity invigorates the mind and creates an emotional bond between your spirit and physical being. For me, that bond translates into discovering my best writing ideas when I’m engaged in exercise. When you workout your body, your gray matter benefits, so does your writing. Exercise is up-time, an opportunity to visualize and plan your writing while staying fit. Developing scenes and story in your mind while sweating on an elliptical machine will keep you on a healthy plot-track, stimulating imagination and motivating your writing.

I encourage you to find 30 minutes a day to exercise. Take the ‘write’ steps now, get up and walk away from the Sitting-Society.

Darryl Foster

When the Story Spark Ignites

Explosion of planet or starI finished outlining a new novel, while editing the novel I need to finish. I’m convinced my ability to multi-task projects is born from my wavering attention span, and being hyper about any new idea that crosses my mind. But this time it feels different, and my attention is unwavering.

I’m sure some or all of us (including myself) believe our unique story sparks will burst forth the next big book deal: an international book tour, signings in every city, a publisher with a marketing engine that never sleeps, and of course the movie premieres next week (sounds lovely). Whether that happens or not, the story and writing process has to start with a spark.

So you pull out your mind-flint and strike your metal pen against your gray matter to make a story spark. Most times the story is easy to create: a news article catches your attention, an idea presents itself, an unlikely experience happens to you. How ever the spark comes, you eventually find the story you want to write. You were seeking the story, and found it. But perhaps what you found doesn’t gel? The story matter doesn’t seem to flow, and you find yourself backfilling the plot with regurgitated story-stuff that buries you in nothing but burden. The three act structure has become the ten act flop. If the story has become a labour of love, then likely the passion to write it is just as labourious. The spark has died.

But not all stories are prone to snuff-out. There are stories that kindle, and the story spark ignites into a supernova of imagination. The story explodes in your head and writes itself. I like to think of it as finding love when you’re not looking for it. You know that feeling of surprise, awe and amazement when you find someone so wonderful. Love at first sight? There’s an energy in those moments, and although we try to put a finger on it, it’s not anything we can grasp; it’s wild and wants to be free. This type of story spark is something you can’t control. When that happens the story will write itself, twisting effortlessly around the plot like a helix: forming scenes, chapters and acts, seemingly at will. This story spark has a life of its own and ignites passion in the writer. It becomes a raging inferno, St. Elmo’s fire, crackling with characters, burning with emotion and radiating with meaningful elements. This story will speak to you. It knows how it wants to be written. It will have passion and purpose. This is the story that’s in you to write.

In my infinite wisdom (which really tries hard to break out of my skull) I found myself trying to simplify what I’m talking about in as few words as possible, and perhaps someone else has coined the quote, but here’s my two cents:

“The writer doesn’t find the story one yearns to write ~ rather ~ the story finds the writer and yearns to be written.”

I believe story sparks are alive in all of us, and the right one will burn brighter in your mind-sky than all of them. That’s your story, move toward it, fuel its fire, and bring it to life.

Darryl Foster

Flash Fiction Published on Commuterlit.com: “The Turning”

Are you a Walking Dead fan?

Check out my flash fiction The Turning on commuterlit.com, published today or read on below:

The Turning by Darryl Foster

My eyes flicker open.

A soft ambient glow fills my vision. I strain to focus and what at first appears to be a chalky blackboard sky solidifies to become the moon hovering like an apparition, floating among wisps of cloud. I feel peaceful lying here, somewhere, looking up at the drift of moonlit clouds as they slip through my vision. Each cloud a morphing fractal, a kaleidoscope of changing shapes pushed by the wind, curling, twisting, and then moving far away, leaving me to consider my thoughts and what seems to be my complete loss of self regard and place. The sudden realization that my careless mental drift with the night sky overshadows my current situation trips my consciousness. A tightening in my chest triggers a panic concerning my wellbeing and sends me crashing into the question—where am I?

I attempt to recall my thoughts, reaching back before I woke: What was I doing? How did I arrive here? Who am I? But nothing seems to snap my memory to attention. I am left to wonder if I have any memory of anything. I search my mind again, trying to recall something that could postulate my being here, and the only thing rising from my thoughts is a taste; a coppery bitterness in my mouth, as if I’d been sucking on a penny for days. It seems, for now, I have regained a tiny measure of feeling as my sense of taste returns to life, and with it, a rising intensity of a thousand pricking needles barrels through my body. It feels like I’m a dead limb waking after hours of poor circulation. And as my body comes back to life I regain some muscle control and turn my head. There at eye level, a curb and sidewalk perpendicular to my perception. I’m on my back. I’m lying down on a road, and my revived nerves send forward my sense of touch. I feel cold, and realize I’m shirtless, my skin pressing against clammy tarmac—get up—that’s all I can think.

I take a deep breath. The damp air quickens my senses, sending a flood of activity that rifles my brain, and all my muscles are sore; throbbing with pain. Something is wrong with me, something terribly wrong. A heavy feeling in my body, as if pinned by gravity, makes the road feel like it’s holding up my weight, and suddenly the tension in every muscle fibre seems to loosen as though waking from a bout of temporary paralysis. In that revelation all the pain is gone as if cast out by miracle, but strangely there is something left behind, not a tangible ache, but an encompassing apathetic clarity. Suddenly I’m no longer consumed by the questions plaguing me. It doesn’t matter who I am, where I am or what I am doing. All that matters is what I feel now; the rise of some new found sense of freedom composing itself in my mind. The sensation is: consuming, euphoric, limitless, and whatever questions I have of my past life lift away. This new life without bonds, without care, is far better, and something else—something growing inside—an instinctive reflex: to be, to live, to feed.

I summon my strength and roll onto my side. I push my hands against the cold asphalt and stand. A survey of my body reveals coagulated blood stains on my blue jeans, scrapes across my chest—as if I’d been dragged across pavement—and I notice my right forearm appears mangled as if mauled by a dog trying to wrestle out the bone. There’s no initial shock, and I can clearly see a streak of moist white sinew deep within the jagged valley of the laceration which extends from my elbow to my wrist. The wound is missing fatty tissue and muscle, and it’s easy to see the torn bloody ends of my arteries and veins, but oddly the sight doesn’t seem to concern me; it captivates me. I’m staring at my injury, observing it, picking at it with the hand on my good arm, and there is no pain. Perhaps I no longer understand pain. It doesn’t seem to register in my mind that I’m, hurt, and I don’t feel a need to seek help.

I take another deep breath; a taut pressure in my head releases, and I feel an unhinging of my mind, a mental bon voyage, and suddenly any emotion, desire or forward thought begins to numb. My original self succumbs, relinquishing its hold on this body and fades into oblivion. There is no sense of before or after, and the present doesn’t seem to register any measure of time—there’s only empty space in my thoughts. Regardless, I know I am something. I am alive, and although I may be absent of pulse, I know I exist in some state of living animation, perhaps as a shell, a vessel for whatever minuscule piece of consciousness I have left. And although that remaining part of me seems suppressed, it’s still able to comprehend my surroundings, and detects far-off screams of terror reverberating in the night air.

Those resounding cries of horror are like a beacon, and I’m attracted to whatever distant chaos is unfolding; the scent of it smells like blood spilt into the ocean to spur a frenzy of sharks. The louder the shrieks the more excited I become, and with the excitement a memory rushes through me—a memory of absolute panic—in which I’m running and trying to stay ahead of a tsunami of hysterical people. We are all being chased, unable to outrun a closing horde of clamouring, rot-smelly things that appear human and decayed. A woman on my heels is picked off, sideswiped by one of the creatures. I recall the hollow thud of her body and the crack of her skull on pavement—the sound of instantaneous death—and in the back of my mind I imagine it like a lion taking down a gazelle. The driving fear of her death—and mine pending—kept my legs moving and my senses sharp as I looked for any escape route—and there, ahead is an alley. I charge right, hoping to evade, but one of those things pursues. Its necrotic scent and sour breath looms over my shoulder. I breakout of the alleyway, dash across a sidewalk and race left onto a street, and the thing digs its fingernails into my neck. I feel its bite and jaw lock onto my arm. My eyes shut, and I cringe in breathless agony. A few last steps and this thing wrestles me to the ground. My eyes are wide, my screams choked by horror, as my nemesis hovers over me: vicious, manic and tearing into my arm. It is a hideous figure, appearing as a mangled man with bloody sores, lacerations and missing layers of skin and hair. Its bite is unrelenting and the sting of an acidic like saliva is mixing with my blood and tissue. I’m the gazelle now, surrendering to the kill, submitting to natural selection, and knowing my place in the food chain—blackness consumes, and the memory is gone.

More distant screams and something begins to pump my heart. I can feel it inside, moving in my chest—something has control of my body. Pressure builds in my veins; a wetness above my lip forms and a drip of blood runs uncontrollably from my nose. My eyes feel heavy as if sunken in their sockets. I feel aged, and decayed. My body quivers then turns with a jerk toward the direction of the screams searching out the scent of death in the air, and my eyes fall upon the streetscape ahead of me. The way forward is littered with the carnage of awkwardly splayed bodies reeking with a stench of soured organics. Maybe some will rise and wake like me. Maybe they will see the moon in the sky as I did, luminous with shape-shifting clouds and perhaps they too will wonder where they are, who they are, and perhaps they too will see the world in a different way, a new boundless way. I stumble forward, lurching toward the sounds of the frantic living, churning with a mindless hunger.

 

 

NaNoWriMo Half-Time Tribute

I doff my hat to every valiant writer who has made it their mission to push aside everything this month to complete a novel. This is a daunting endeavour, but one proven to be achievable. The absolute mind blowing 50,000 words in one month makes NaNoWriMo the Ironman race of the mind.

NaNoWriMo is coming up on half-time and you warriors-of-the-word-processors are locked in a daily word count battle that numbs the senses. In my world, you are all ‘Nanimals’ (novel writing animals), and to celebrate your achievements I bring you motivation from the past. I believe if Winston Churchill were alive today, he would be writing alongside you in the war of words, weaving plot, twisting characters and building tension. The half-time tribute: Imagine Churchill giving his historical speech, and imagine if he were a Nanimal like you.

We shall go on to the end, we shall write in our homes,
we shall write in libraries, and in coffee shops,
we shall write with growing confidence and growing strength in our prose, we shall write no matter what the cost may be,
we shall write in our regions,
we shall write and tweet,
we shall write with our pens and word processors,
we shall write day and night;
we shall never surrender!

Good luck you wild Nanimals!

I salute you all.

Never-Never-Never-Never-Give-up-Winston-Churchill-quote