‘The Best Medicine’ Author Interview with Caterina Franciosi, “Il Salotto Letterario”, Italy

D’Aguilar Range, Queensland, Australia

I had the honour of being interviewed by Caterina Franciosi, “Il Salotto Letterario”, Italy, about my story The Best Medicine. Before we jump to the interview, here’s some background information:

The Story

The Best Medicine is a horror short story about a wife caring for her acquired brain-injured husband on a remote property in the Australian bush. Written from the wife’s perspective, it explores her grief and anger at their situation and what she does to survive a relationship that is spiraling out of control.

The Best Medicine was the short story category winner in the 2020 AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction contest and was published in Midnight Echo #16 in 2021.

AHWA partners with RiLL, Italy, and shares winning stories, and The Best Medicine was chosen for translation in the Mondi Incantati series, The Bar Immediately After, also published in 2021.

The Best Medicine has also been selected for the 2022 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot for Superior Work in Short Fiction.

The Interviewer

Caterina Franciosi was born in 1990 in a small town on the Adriatic sea coast in Italy. She attended Classical High School and then the faculty of Foreign Languages ​​and Cultures at the University of Urbino. In 2018 she opened her l it-blog  “Il Salotto Letterario”, dedicated to interviews and book reviews. She collaborates with several publishing houses, websites, Facebook groups, and magazines, including the cultural association Italian Sword & Sorcery in the short story section and the magazine Life Factory Magazine in the review and interview section. She published short stories in various anthologies. For the digital publishing house Delos Digital she published: “The rain remembers – La pioggia ricorda” (2020), “Terra nova” (2020), “The empty coat – Il cappotto vuoto” (2021), “Shadow of a prince – L’ombra di un principe” (2021), “Project Mathilda – Progetto Mathilda”(2021),“Crooked pumpkin, empty pumpkin– Zucca storta, zucca vuota”(2021), “The boarding school– Il collegio”(2021). For the publishing house Milena Edizioni  she wrote  “Ballo in Maschera – The Masquerade Ball” (2021). For Plesio Editore, she participated in the fantasy Japanese anthology “Ramen Fantasy” (2021).

Her thoughts about The Best Medicine:

What I liked best about “The Best Medicine” has been its visual and emotional power: claustrophobic atmospheres, unique protagonists, a neverending sense of mystery and a series of unexpected events make this short story unforgettable. It made me shiver from the beginning to the end for the complexity of its themes and for the sense of sacrifice and guilt which permeate every word.  

The Interview:

It was a pleasure chatting with Caterina about the story behind The Best Medicine, and a little about me. The full interview can be found here, easily translated into English using google translate:

The Best Medicine’ Author Interview with Caterina Franciosi, “Il Salotto Letterario”, Italy

D’Aguilar Range, Queensland, Australia

Further reading:

About AHWA: https://australasianhorror.com/

About Midnight Echo #16: https://www.amazon.com.au/Midnight-Echo-16-Tim-Hawken/dp/0645001937/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Midnight+Echo+%2316&qid=1639266300&sr=8-2

About RiLL: https://www.rill.it/node/2

About Mondi Incantati series: https://www.rill.it/il-bar-subito-dopo?fbclid=IwAR2VepsMynNQyBW_h_ZaxLUbdLfeQEDtlv8zFcLngpUwvZYmnBkMLuknj9k

About The Bar Immediately After: https://www.amazon.it/dp/8832198991

About Author Interview with RiLL for The Bar Immediately After: https://www.rill.it/intervista-collettiva-RWT-MI2021?fbclid=IwAR0qujdq7cTPCkPOEAkx6AOGkVHTeaolO4U1vFTS2mhXFpHOwqDoW0DxIzs

About 2022 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot: https://www.thebramstokerawards.com/news/the-2022-bram-stoker-awards-preliminary-ballot/

Before You Go

Photo by Andrew on Pexels.com

Before you go, the box you shoved in my corner contains another piece of you and while I never grow tired of looking at previous pieces of you, it would be nice to chat about which part of your sixty-five years you want to keep, or hide, or forget so I know if it’s a permanent addition to your collection, or if you plan on returning for it in the near future; I categorize the boxes by importance, you see, crucial for my well-being because while I’m happy to guard your precious memories—that’s what attics do, after all—you need to consider that it’s not material items you store in these boxes but emotions attached to memories and the longer a box stays in my possession the deeper I absorb the feelings, and sometimes the melancholy I absorb can get quite bad, though I think that’s partly due to my location in the house; the topmost floor, never thought about until I’m needed, and I’m not the nicest place to visit, I admit, only a vent in the apex which means there’s no wind, and the dust settles, and the silverfish breed and though I don’t mind their company, it is difficult to keep them out of your boxes; they’re the sneakiest things, silverfish, slipping through the smallest of gaps, especially the boxes in my southern corner because the chimney runs up the outside of that wall and in winter when you burn the fire day and night, the area is quite warm, though I must admit, I’d rather silverfish than mice; thankfully they are happy to live in the basement which is a far better place for mice; being closer to the earth they can burrow which is what mice like to do, but it’s worth mentioning while we’re on that topic that I overheard the basement groaning about a crack in the foundations, possibly caused by the burrowing mice, and the area is wet because of a leaking tap outside, which is probably why the mice are there; they’d have a source of water, you see, but that does raise another worry because where’s there’s water, there are termites and you can’t be too careful with termites; I’d die if they ever got into my beams, but I suppose if they made it this far, then the entire house would need to be demolished, which would be a shame because I quite like being here, looking after your treasures, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about another attic replacing me, which is morbid to think about, so if you wouldn’t mind checking in with the basement and fixing that leaky tap, I’d be forever grateful, even though I know you don’t like the basement because it’s dank and cranky and smells like something nasty crawled into it, but the basement has feelings too, and it would love your company, just as I have enjoyed your company, even if only for a moment.

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Before You Go was long-listed in the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction September 2021 Short Story writing competition and required the following prompts:

  • Your story must include EITHER an attic OR a basement.
  • Your story must include some kind of insect.
  • Your story must include the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER.

To view the winning and shortlisted stories and learn more about the competition CLICK HERE

The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot Announced which includes THE BEST MEDICINE

I was so excited to see this in my email today. The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot has been announced and I’m stunned and honored that THE BEST MEDICINE made the list for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.

It’s only the preliminary ballot but this is a huge achievement for me. The next step is for Active and Lifetime Members of the HWA to determine a shortlist for the final ballot. It would be wonderful to make that list too, but for now, I’m so happy to be included with some fantastic horror authors.

The full list of nominees is below, and a huge congratulations to all.

The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Castro, V. – The Queen of the Cicadas (Flame Tree Press)

Demchuk, David – Red X (Strange Light)

Hendrix, Grady – The Final Girl Support Group (Berkley)

Jones, Stephen Graham – My Heart Is a Chainsaw (Gallery/Saga Press)

Knight, EV – Children of Demeter (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

McLeod Chapman, Clay – Whisper Down the Lane (Quirk Books)

Pelayo, Cynthia – Children of Chicago (Agora Books)

Starling, Caitlin – The Death of Jane Lawrence (St. Martin’s Press)

Stred, Steve – Incarnate (Black Void Publishing)

Wendig, Chuck – The Book of Accidents (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Desiree, Amanda – Smithy (Inkshares)

Fox, VK – Indie Saint (Aethon Books)

Jones, C.B. – TheRules of the Road (Ionosphere Press)

Martinez, S. Alessandro – Helminth (Omnium Gatherum)

McQueen, LaTanya – When the Reckoning Comes (Harper Perennial)

Miles, Terry – Rabbits (Del Rey)

Moreno, Gus – This Thing Between Us (MCD x FSG Originals)

Piper, Hailey – Queen of Teeth (Strangehouse Books)

Quigley, Lisa – The Forest (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Willson, Nicole – Tidepool (The Parliament House)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ahmed, Saladin (author) and Kivelä, Sami (artist) – Abbott 1973 (BOOM! Studios)

Garcia, Kami (author); Suayan, Mico (artist); Badower, Jason (artist); and Mayhew, Mike (artist) – Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity (DC Comics)

Leong, Sloane (author) and Bowles, Anna (artist) – Graveneye (TKO Studios)

Manzetti, Alessandro (author) and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist) – The Inhabitant of the Lake (Independent Legions Publishing)

McCurdy, Bowen (author/artist) and Musto, Kaitlyn (author) – Specter Inspectors (BOOM! Box)

Morrison, Grant (author); Child, Alex (author); and Franquiz, Naomi (artist) – Proctor Valley Road (BOOM! Studios)

Moyer, Rich (author/artist) – Ham Helsing Vampire Hunter (Crown Books for Young Readers) 

Panosian, Dan (author) and Ignazzi, Marianna (artist) – An Unkindness of Ravens (BOOM! Studios)

Scott, Cavan (author) and Howell, Corin (artist) – Shadow Service: Dark Arts (Vault Comics)

Szym, Adam (author/artist) – A Cordial Invitation (Self-published)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Ames, Alison – To Break a Covenant (Page Street Kids)

Blake, Kendare – All These Bodies (Quill Tree Books)

Boyle, R.L. – The Book of the Baku (Titan Books)

Craig, Erin A. – Small Favors (Delacorte Press)

Gould, Courtney – The Dead and the Dark (Wednesday Books) 

Lewis, Jessica – Bad Witch Burning (Delacorte Press)

Marshall, Kate Alice – Our Last Echoes (Viking Books for Young Readers)

Polydoros, Aden – The City Beautiful (Inkyard Press)

Sutherland, Krystal – House of Hollow (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Waters, Erica – The River Has Teeth (HarperTeen)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Asman, Brian – Man, Fuck This House (Mutated Media)

Castro, V. – Goddess of Filth (Creature Publishing, LLC)

Deady, Tom – Of Men and Monsters (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Jeffery, Ross – Only The Stains Remain (Cemetery Gates Media)

Khaw, Cassandra – Nothing But Blackened Teeth (Tor Nightfire)

LaRocca, Eric – Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke (Weirdpunk Books)

Marrs, Chris and O’Neill, Gene – “Entangled Soul” (Entangled Soul and Other Stories) (Omnium Gatherum)

Piper, Hailey – “Recitation of the First Feeding” (Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy) (The Seventh Terrace)

Strand, Jeff – “Twentieth Anniversary Screening” (Slice and Dice) (Independently published)

Tingle, Chuck – Straight (Self-published)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Gwilym, Douglas – “Year Six” (LampLight Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1) (Apokrupha)

Gyzander, Carol – “The Yellow Crown” (Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign) (Hippocampus Press)

Joseph, R.J. – “I Just Want to Be Free” (Paranormal Contact: A Quiet Horror Confessional) (Cemetery Gates Media)

Joseph, R.J. – “Soulmates” (Dark Dispatch Issue #2: Deadly Love) (Dark Dispatch)

Murray, Lee – “Permanent Damage” (Attack From the ‘80s) (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

O’Quinn, Cindy – “A Gathering at the Mountain” (The Bad Book) (Bleeding Edge Books)

Oreto, Frank J. – “The Care and Feeding of Household Gods” (Beyond the Veil) (Flame Tree Press)

Taborska, Anna -“Two Shakes Of A Dead Lamb’s Tail”(Terror Tales of the Scottish Lowlands) (Telos Publishing)

Ward, Kyla Lee – “A Whisper in the Death Pit” (Weirdbook #44) (Wildside Press)

Yates, Pauline – “The Best Medicine” (Midnight Echo Issue 16) (AHWA)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Bailey, Michael – Psychotropic Dragon (Written Backwards)

Baxter, Alan – The Gulp (13th Dragon Books)

Files, Gemma – In That Endlessness, Our End (Grimscribe Press)

Fracassi, Philip – Beneath a Pale Sky (Lethe Press)

Landry, Jess – The Mother Wound (Independent Legions Publishing)

Maberry, Jonathan – Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead (WordFire Press LLC)

McCarthy, J.A.W. – Sometimes We’re Cruel and Other Stories (Cemetery Gates Media)

Tuttle, Lisa – The Dead Hours of Night (Valancourt Books)

Wise, A.C. – The Ghost Sequences (Undertow Publications)

Yap, Isabel – Never Have I Ever (Small Beer Press)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Bailey-Bond, Prano and Fletcher, Anthony – Censor (Silver Salt Films)

Carolyn, Axelle – The Manor (Amazon Studios)

Chaisson, C. Henry; Antosca, Nick; and Cooper, Scott – Antlers (Searchlight Pictures)

Charles, Kathy; Steensland, Mark; and Stevens, Travis – Jakob’s Wife (AMP International)

Cushing, Aric and Thomas, Logan – There’s No Such Thing as Vampires (Ascent Releasing)

Dong-hyuk, Hwang – Squid Game, Season 1, Episode 1: “Red Light, Green Light” (Siren Pictures) 

Flanagan, Mike; Flanagan, James; and Howard, Jeff – Midnight Mass, Season 1, Episode 6: “Book VI: Acts of the Apostles” (Intrepid Pictures)

Graziadei, Phil and Janiak, Leigh – Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (Chernin Entertainment)

Peele, Jordan; Rosenfeld, Win; and DaCosta, Nia – Candyman (Universal Pictures)

Pisanthanakun, Banjong – The Medium (GDH 559)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Garza, Alexander P. – notsleepyyet (Weasel Press)

Lansdale, Joe R. – Apache Witch and Other Poetic Observations (Independent Legions Publishing)

Manzetti, Alessandro – Dancing with Maria’s Ghost (Independent Legions Publishing)

McHugh, Jessica – Strange Nests (Apokrupha)

O’Brien, Brandon – Can You Sign My Tentacle? (Interstellar Flight Press)

Simon, Marge and Turzillo, Mary – Victims (Weasel Press)

Sng, Christina; Yuriko Smith, Angela; Murray, Lee; and Flynn, Geneve – Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. (Yuriko Publishing)

Snyder, Lucy A. – Exposed Nerves (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Walrath, Holly Lyn – The Smallest of Bones (CLASH Books)

Wolfe, Jezzy – Monstrum Poetica (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Chambers, James – Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign (Hippocampus Press)

Cluff, Michael and Becker, Willow – Humans are the Problem: A Monster’s Anthology (Weird Little Worlds)

Datlow, Ellen – When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson (Titan Books) 

French, Aaron J. and Landry, Jess – There is No Death, There are No Dead (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Guignard, Eric J. – Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (Dark Moon Books)

HOWL Society – Howls From Hell (HOWL Society Press)

Johnson, Eugene – Attack From the ‘80s (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Schlossberg, Josh – The Jewish Book of Horror (Denver Horror Collective) 

Showers, Brian J. – Uncertainties: Volume V (Swan River Press)

Thomas, Ben – Tales from Omnipark (House Blackwood)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Abbott, Stacey and Jowett, Lorna – Global TV Horror (University of Wales Press)

Decker, Lindsey – Transnationalism and Genre Hybridity in New British Horror Cinema (University of Wales Press)

Falvey, Eddie; Hickinbottom, Joe; and Wroot, Jonathan – New Blood: Critical Approaches to Contemporary Horror (University of Wales Press)

Olson, Danel – 9/11 Gothic: Decrypting Ghosts and Trauma in New York City’s Terrorism Novels (Lexington Books)

Knost, Michael – Writers Workshop of Horror 2 (Hydra Publications)

Lester, Catherine – Horror Films for Children: Fear and Pleasure in American Cinema (Bloomsbury Academic)

Potts, Jim – Defending a Serial Killer: The Right to Counsel (Vesuvian Books)

Wetmore Jr., Kevin J. – Eaters of the Dead: Myths and Realities of Cannibal Monsters (Reaktion Books)

Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew and Hansen, Regina M. – Giving the Devil His Due: Satan and 

Cinema (Fordham University Press)

Woofter, Kristopher – Shirley Jackson: A Companion (Peter Lang Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction

Clasen, Mathias – “Fear Not!” (Aeon)

Cowen, David E. – “Introduction” (Victims) (Weasel Press)

Ward, Kyla Lee – “Vampire Poetry” (Penumbra No. 2 (2021)) (Hippocampus Press)

Diak, Nicholas – “Cullzathro Fhtagn! Magnifying the Carnivalesque in Lovecraft Through the Comic Book Series Vinegar Teeth” (Academia Letters)

Ognjanović, Dejan – “The Three Paradigms of Horror” (Vastarien Vol. 4, Issue 2) (Grimscribe Press)

O’Quinn, Cindy – “One and Done” (Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology) (Brigids Gate Press)

Tamásfi, László – “The Devil Flew Away”(Dracula’s Death)(Strangers from Nowhere)    

Verona, Emily Ruth – “A Horror Fan’s Guide to Surviving Womanhood” (thefinalgirls.co.uk)  

Wetmore, Kevin J. – “Devil’s Advocates: The Conjuring” (Auteur Publishing/Liverpool University Press)

Yuriko Smith, Angela – “Horror Writers: Architects of Hope” (The Sirens Call, Halloween 2021, Issue 55) (Sirens Call Publications)

Oh, Christmas Tree

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

What does a tree have to do to get noticed? In ten minutes, the gates to ‘Bert’s Living Christmas Trees’ will close and my chance at finding a forever home will be over.

Do people not appreciate the effort I put into presenting myself as the perfect Christmas tree? Look at my branches. Are they not thick with glossy dark green foliage, perfect for highlighting red and silver baubles? Do they not hang with precision to mimic a wild tree bending beneath the weight of snow? I even went to the trouble of spacing my branches to make it easier to hang tinsel. My lower trunk is self-pruned, allowing plenty of room for presents. My roots are firm in the pot; I will not fall. I’ve stored enough energy in my cells to survive a week indoors: my fronds won’t turn brown and drop. What more do I have to do?

Is it my height? After three years of Bert’s nurturing, I’m taller than the security fence surrounding the yard. I didn’t think I’d be here long enough to see over the top. In fact, I never considered the possibility that, for many of us, a forever home will remain a dream. Why did I not realize that until now?

I’m the tallest tree in the yard. If I don’t find a home, what will become of me? Bert’s a kind human, but he can’t keep me forever. My roots will eventually ball inside the pot, my foliage will make me top-heavy. Falling will be a daily worry, especially in a high wind. What if I topple over? Would Bert drive a stake into my pot and wrap tape around my truck to hold me upright? How would that make me look?

This is my fault. I should have curbed my appetite during my first year in the nursery. Instead of dreaming of the day I’d adorn a family’s living room, I should have listened to the bonsai Christmas trees who shouted from their shelf about staying small. Small is easy to carry. Small doesn’t scratch the ceiling. Small doesn’t incur the extra cost of cartage, though Bert offers a reasonable rate for the use of his trailer. Small is saleable. No wonder I’m still here.

It’s too late to change my eating habits. And time has run out. The last influx of customers search for their special tree, but none come near me. My branches droop. I’ll never see colours dance on my fronds from blinking Christmas lights. I’ll never hear Christmas carols. Christmas is not Christmas without carols.

“That one is the perfect height.”

What?

I raise my branches. A man wearing a black suit points at me. Bert stands at his side, a grin splitting his face.

“A fine specimen, Councilor Miller. I’ll have it delivered and planted in the town square today.”

The town square?

My trunk swells with pride. That’s a forever home with everybody. And, oh, the Christmas carols…

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Oh, Christmas Tree was long-listed in the Australian Writers Centre, Furious Fiction December 2021 short story writing competition and required the following prompts:

  • Each story had to include a tree.
  • Each story had to include something being taped.
  • Each story had to include the words DANCE, SEARCH and CHANGE.

To view the winning and shortlisted stories and learn more about this fun competition CLICK HERE

Out with the old goals, in with the new.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

December is the time to set writing goals for the new year, but I thought it would be fun to see if I achieved my goals from last year, because I always forget them by the end of January.

My initial goal for 2021 was to finish a short story I was working on for Metaphorosis Magazine. I submitted this story the previous October and was offered a rewrite. I didn’t realize how much work that would require, so I dropped the novel I was also working on, and persisted with the short story.

The result was The Secret Keeper, a fantasy story about 16-year-old, Rose, a demi-god charged with keeping hope in the world. A fantasy, it dives into the world of Hades and Harpocrates and explores the ramification of keeping a secret.

The Secret Keeper was published in June and you can read or listen to the podcast by CLICKING HERE.

Throughout the year there are a number of writing contests I consider. I like testing my skills against a time limit, or with prompts. One contest I particularly enjoyed was a 30-word story contest run by Writing Victoria during April. This would be easy, I thought. Wrong. The amount of brain effort required to come up with a different story every day for a month was incredible. I won’t spoil it by revealing more, but you can read how I fared, and my 30 stories by CLICKING HERE.

You’d think I’d be done with contests by then, but no. My other favourite contest is the NYCMidnight writing challenges that run regularly throughout the year. I participated in the flash fiction, 250-word, and 100-word challenges, with varying results.

In the flash fiction, Spies Like Me, a comedy/spy story placed 5th in my group, taking me through to the next round. My next round story, Security Upgrade, a horror, placed 11th in my group. My combined points were two points short of moving through to round 3, but I’m happy with my effort.

To read Spies Like Me CLICK HERE.

Security Upgrade has since been sold and it will be published next year.

In the 100-word microfiction challenge, my story Accural, a drama including hiding money, placed 7th in my group, but that’s as far as I progressed in this event. My 250-word effort didn’t place high enough to progress either, but the feedback I received from the judges was positive.

To read Accural CLICK HERE.

Did I mention I was writing a novel?

It’s a YA Scifi and I’ve slaved over it for years. Every time I thought it was right, I discovered something that was wrong. Mid-year, I returned to it, determined to finish. So for the next few months, that’s all I did.

Not exactly. Writing a novel is hard, and I love writing short stories. While I was untangling scenes, I jumped out every now and then to work on a new addiction. Drabbles.

I discovered a new publisher, Black Hare Press. They run a monthly drabble contest comprising dark themes. Perfect for me. I love writing dark. First I had to break down their door because they only allowed writers who’d published with them previously to enter. Every so often though, they have an open call, so I jumped at the chance. My first acceptance, a drabble titled Well Done, was included in their anthology, 666 Dark Drabbles. It can be purchased by CLICKING HERE.

Accepted into this group, wow, what fun I am having. The Black Hare Press community is fun and supportive and engaging. And I can enter the monthly drabble contest. Every month has a different theme, and the best twelve are chosen for on-line publication. These are my stories so far and you can read any of them by clicking on the title:

Clean Sheet – Purge

Pumpkin Head – Halloween

Dual – War

Stranger Danger – Underwater (Patreon)

Kuntilanak – Myths and Legends

Naughty and Nice – Christmas

Jump back to October and I had another short story published, a creepy horror story that found a home in The Lost Librarian’s Grave published by Redwood Press. I love this story. Written in 2nd person, it’s a short horror with an end you won’t expect. To purchase the anthology CLICK HERE.

My novel … not quite. Another contest I enjoy is the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction. Every month, they put out prompts and gave us 55 hours to craft a story. The number of writers who enter this is huge, like 1600 in one month. It must be a mammoth task selecting a winner, the shortlist and the longlist, and to get on any of those lists is an achievement.

I didn’t enter every month, for obvious reasons if you look back at everything else I was doing, but in September, my entry Before You Go was longlisted. And in November, my entry Flying Home for Christmas was third on the shortlist. To me, that’s as good as winning (just minus the paycheck). You can read Flying Home for Christmas by CLICKING HERE.

I saved the best for last.

Last year, my story The Best Medicine, won the AHWA Short Story contest. This was huge for me. I wrote this during a when time I suffered the worst writer doubt imaginable. I’m not ashamed to say that when I received the email, I cried. Fast forward twelve months, The Best Medicine is included in Midnight Echo #16 which is available to purchase HERE.

Even better, The Best Medicine was chosen for translated inclusion in The Bar Immediately After, Mondi Incanti series, produced by RiLL, Italy. To learn more about this anthology, CLICK HERE.

From writer doubt to translated, that’s pretty cool.

The Best Medicine, The Jump, and The Secret Keeper are all award-eligible stories, so if you’re looking for stories to recommend, I love if you’d consider these.

My novel. That’s where I am right now, applying another round of edits to tighten everything up and get my word count down. And as we’re at the end of this year, I’ll set my goal for next year:

START QUERYING. WRITE MORE DRABBLES.

That’s it. Anything else is a bonus.

But wait, there’s more:

I have other stories coming out next year, including some dark poetry that was accepted during the year. For a sneak peek, and to see stories from other years CLICK HERE.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and have a safe and joyous season.

Write on!

Pauline Yates

Flying Home for Christmas

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

I stand the suitcase on the scales. Damn. Fifteen kilograms over the allowed luggage weight. Opening the suitcase, I sift through my clothes. A fleece-lined jacket? I don’t need that. Christmas Day in Australia will either be flooding rain or a heatwave. Dad will have a spare raincoat if I need one.

Closing the suitcase, I stand it on the scales. Ten kilograms over. Bugger. Opening the suitcase, I pull out a pair of jeans, and my red dress. Why did I pack that? I’ll be on a sheep farm in the middle of Victoria. Those strappy shoes can go, too. We’ll be dancing around a bonfire, not under disco lights.

Removing the shoes and clothes, I close the suitcase and stand it on the scales. Eight kilograms over. Fair dinkum. Opening the suitcase, I remove a floral blouse, a slinky skirt, and three sets of lingerie. Who did I expect to charm? The sheep?

Closing the suitcase, I stand it on the scales. Seven kilograms over. What? Opening the suitcase, I take out two books, another pair of jeans, put the books back, swap the Ugg boots for thongs, ditch all the socks. Close the suitcase. Stand on scales. Five kilograms over.

Gritting my teeth, I open the suitcase, lose another dress, swap a tee shirt for a singlet. Close the suitcase. Stand it on the scales. Four kilograms over.

A horn blares; my taxi ride to the airport. Hurrying to the door, I dodge the neighbour’s cat, signal the driver to wait, bolt back inside, open the suitcase, remove a towel; why did I pack a towel? Ditch the soap and the toothpaste and toothbrush holder and the soap holder and why are there two hairbrushes?

Tossing the items, I close the suitcase. Stand it on the scales. Seven kilograms over? What the? Open the suitcase. Remove the cat. Close the suitcase. Weigh on scales. Three kilograms over.

Horn blares. Time ticks. Chase away cat. Find a bandaid for cat scratch. Open suitcase. Remove books. Study titles. ‘One Midnight’s Dream’, a romance, stays. ‘Across a Crowded Room’, a thriller, goes. Repack romance book. Don’t crush the cover! Wrap book in pyjamas. Close suitcase. Weigh suitcase. Two kilograms over.

Open suitcase. Ditch pyjamas. Put the book in my carry-on bag. Remove makeup bag, another blouse, another skirt. What was I thinking? Did I pack my entire wardrobe? Close suitcase. Stand on scales. Half a kilogram over.

Horn blares. Time ticks. Open suitcase. Upend contents. Repack shirt, shorts, singlet, thongs, hairbrush, pyjamas, underwear. Hat. Where’s my hat? I’ll faint from heatstroke without a hat. I search my apartment. No hat. Don’t panic. Mum has hats attached to her hands. She’ll shove one on my head the second I arrive.

Horn blares. Driver yells. Time’s up. Close suitcase. Stand on scales. One kilogram under.

Do I?

Grab thriller. Weigh on scales. Eight hundred grams. Open suitcase. Add book. Close suitcase.

Essentials packed, run to the taxi.

###

Flying Home For Christmas was shortlisted in the Australian Writers Centre, Furious Fiction November 2021 writing competition. To read the judges comments, view the winning story and read more shortlisted entries CLICK HERE.

2021 Awards Eligibility Post

In the spirit of eternal optimism, it’s that time of year when writers put together a list of stories they’ve published during 2021. The list helps people find stories to nominate for science fiction, horror, and fantasy awards. I was fortunate to have three awards eligible stories published this year, and I’ve listed these below:

The Secret Keeper

Published by Metaphorosis Magazine (Online/Podcast/Print)

Links: https://magazine.metaphorosis.com/story/2021/the-secret-keeper-pauline-yates/

The Jump

Published by Redwood Press in The Lost Librarian’s grave: Tales of Madness, Horror, and Adventure

Links: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Librarians-Grave-Madness-Adventure-ebook/dp/B09HHPFSXD/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Lost+Librarian%27s+Grave&qid=1633132032&sr=8-1

The Best Medicine

Published by AWHA in Midnight Echo #16

Links: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Echo-Issue-Tim-Hawken-ebook/dp/B09M696ZZY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Midnight+Echo+%2316&qid=1637900315&qsid=140-3024104-2676313&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&sres=B09M696ZZY

Translated and published by RiLL (Italy) in ‘The Bar Immediately After’ anthology:

Links: https://www.amazon.it/dp/8832198991

https://www.rill.it/il-bar-subito-dopo

Dark Moments Monthly Drabble Challenge

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Another month, another writing challenge and Black Hare Press continues to tempt me with its Dark Moments monthly drabble challenge. The theme for September was Halloween, and stories had to be exactly 100 words. When I say exactly, that’s exactly what it means and I always have fun making sure elipses (…) don’t add to my word count, a thing I’ve recently discovered.

Halloween stories are perfect for the publication’s requirements: dark, scary, horror, weird. But I can never resist injecting a hint of humor into my writing. Only twelve stories are chosen for publication each month, and I’m pleased to say that my humor paid off (literally) and my story ‘Pumpkin Head’ was chosen as one of the twelve winning entries.

You can read my drabble by following the link below. I hope you enjoy.

Pumpkin Head

A Black Hare Press Dark Moments Publication

Want to read more? Check out my previous winning stories by following the links below.

Dual

Clean Sheet

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and dark, short story anthology now available on Amazon as an ebook

Ann's Immaterium

I am happy to say that the horror and dark fiction anthology I’ve been working on some quite some time went live on Amazon last night as an ebook. Besides being available for purchase, you can read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Buy the ebook on Amazon for $4.99 or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

We’ll be releasing the paperback version of The Lost Librarian’s Grave later in October.

When I put together the table of contents I got to thinking about how people read anthologies. I know some people like to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end.

The traditional table of contents, which I put up a preview of here, caters to that way of doing things. It also has, for me anyway, a comforting feel of how I’m using to seeing books.

Some readers (me among them) like…

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