Night Owl, Night Writer

  • June 24, 2018
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night forest photo

“I could sit in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and write with my typewriter on my knees; temperamental I am not.”

–Louis L’Amour


I once spent a day trying to write a story. I sat on my couch with a pen and pad and faced nothing but blankness. This is it, I thought. I can no longer write. I was terrified. The gift that fueled me, helped me, defined me was gone.

Then, night fell and the words flowed. I realized that I was a creative writer at night and a better editor by day. The relief and gratitude I felt was immense, and I planned my writing time accordingly.

That was a while back. I no longer need the night to write. Taking inspiration from Mr. L’Amour, I’ve written on buses and trains and standing on line at the supermarket. But still, when the skies darken and the area becomes quiet and fragrant with the scent of grass or still and blanketed in snow, everything and anything becomes possible. The words might be pared down or even deleted the next day, but during that time of moon and stars, the words travel down mystical roads weaving their own magic.

Are you a night writer or a day writer?



*Photo by Pezibear (Pixabay)

Elements–An Excerpt from Arielle Prose

  • June 18, 2018
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Photo by pburka

For our final installment, author Arielle Prose shares an excerpt from her story “A Sea Change.” You’ll be able to read it in its entirety later this summer in the anthology Elements: Tales From the Substratum. Enjoy!

AP: Retirement from the workforce is a long-awaited day for many people. Depending on the circumstances, you either look forward to the last day on the job or you don’t. Do you embrace the future with plans you cultivated, or do you regret leaving a job you love? Perhaps a little of both. Water is the element in this story, inspired by events in the author’s own life.



Arielle Prose


“There’s still time to change your mind,” Mindy interjects, a big smile on her face. “You can announce that it was all a hoax, that you’re not leaving and just wanted a party.”

“Ha, ha. You’re funny,” Twila says. “Another one of your begging-you-to-stay ruses, is it?” In contrast to her connection with Ruth, Twila’s bond with Mindy is more a mother-daughter relationship, Mindy being way younger than she, and always in need of advice.

Mindy pleads, “You know it is. What am I going to do without you?” She shakes her hands together in prayer, feigning drama. “Who’s going to help me with work when I’m in trouble?”

“Don’t be silly. You still have Ruth,” Twila replies.

They’re at the conference room door, on the other side of which voices can be heard.

Ruth looks at Twila and says, “Well, here we are. What are you? Scared? Go ahead, open the door.” But then she opens it for her.

“There she is!” Cruger announces. He has just finished writing “Good luck!” on the whiteboard, which is festooned with balloons.

A few people are gathered, standing around the table, which is bedecked with a flower centerpiece, and laden with pizza boxes, sandwiches, and a cake with “Congrats, Twila!” on it.

Twila, having expected something like this, is ready to smile and act all Gomer Pyle-style, shy and awkward, saying something like, “Aw gee folks, that’s mighty nice of you.” But upon hearing the big cheer that goes up, she suddenly is overwhelmed. “Thank you,” she simply says.

During the luncheon everybody chats and digs in. A few people from other departments stop in to add to Twila’s pool of well-wishers. She finds it no surprise that Natasha sits next to Claire, because Claire is an independent, neutral, take-no-sides sort, who gets along well with everyone, but rarely talks about anything personal. Without Betsy, Twila knows Natasha must be ill at ease.

Twila, sitting across from them with Mindy and Ruth on either side of her, thinks of a way to start a group conversation. “So, Natasha, how’s Kristin? What is she now? Five?”

Natasha nods and says, “Oh, she’s fine.”

“And how many months are you now, Mindy?” Twila asks, turning to her, “Five, right?”

Mindy kicks Twila under the table, but Twila ignores her and continues, “And you look fine, too. Glowing, as a matter-of-fact. When is your due date again?”

Mindy’s startled look turns into a shy smile, as she says, barely audible, “November fifteenth.”

Ruth joins in and asks, “Natasha, what can you tell Mindy to expect—I mean being a working mother and all.”

This gets Mindy and Natasha talking. While they’re discussing how flexible schedules are a godsend, Twila congratulates herself for having been the one to break the ice. She doesn’t know if from now on they’ll continue speaking to each other—probably not—but Twila feels exhilarated, on a roll now, riding the waves.

Want to read all the excerpts? Start with J. M. Levinton’s story “Airborne.”

Elements: Tales From the Substratum

Coming this summer


Elements–An Excerpt from Anne Wagenbrenner

  • June 10, 2018
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Photo by Dobies

This week, author Anne Wagenbrenner shares an excerpt from her horror story “Walk Around on Earth, In My Body.” You’ll be able to read it in its entirety later this summer in the anthology Elements: Tales From the Substratum. Enjoy!

AW: My element for this anthology was earth, and I decided to tell a horror story.

I adapted an experience a friend had related to me–of a demonic creature who attaches himself to a human woman visiting New Orleans. She is suckered into “inviting” him in. . .



Anne Wagenbrenner


The eyes in Alix’s mirror morphed back into the eyes of the goat-man. Alix stared into them, wondering who the being was, and why he was in her mirror.  Who are you? She thought at him. Is that you, Pete? Did you die? She was scared, because it was so weird; but the guy in the mirror didn’t seem harmful, just a little sarcastic. And it was probably all a hallucination, anyway, from the humidity. Why are you in that mirror? Can you come out of there?

In her mind, she heard a smiling, slightly mocking voice, “I’m not in the mirror, Alix.”

Her lower intestines became a solid block of ice as Alix realized what this meant. Don’t scream. Don’t scream. She felt him flowing throughout her body, like a slow, gelid river, and the scream ripped from her throat. Then there was nothing.

Next week, Arielle Prose will share an excerpt from her realistic fiction, “A Sea Change.” Come check it out!

Missed last week’s excerpt by R.G. Emanuelle? You can find “Pyromaniac” here.


Elements–An Excerpt From R.G. Emanuelle

  • June 03, 2018
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This week, author R.G. Emanuelle shares an excerpt from her lesfic romance “Pyromaniac.” You’ll be able to read it in its entirety later this summer in the anthology Elements: Tales From the Substratum. Enjoy!

RGE: For our latest anthology I chose the element of fire because it struck me as the most…well, fiery. It’s at once beautiful and terrifying, comforting and disquieting, warming to the body and chilling to the soul. For my main character, Penny, fire is both a gift and a source of horror, sometimes offering her a way to right humanity’s wrongs, but sometimes giving an outlet to her deepest fears. It’s this last one that tries to keep Penny from letting in the perfect woman when she meets her. Does it win, or can Penny get past the darkness and allow herself to embrace love?



R.G. Emanuelle


Penny drew the curtains and sat at her kitchen table. She struck a match and let the mini pyre she’d set up catch fire. The twigs, cardboard, and various pieces of flammable materials in the form of a cone in a special stone plate began to burn. At the very top, she added sage for purification and a clean transition to the other side.

The gold-blue flames danced, casting shadows in the cool dimness of her kitchen, and shot up higher each time she added another twig. The scent of sage filled the room, and she stared deeper into the pyre.

Then she was still.

Images began to form and she focused deeply to make them coalesce. Her limbs flexed and contracted as she gazed into the blinding flame. She saw a face, blurry at first, then clearer. It was a little girl. Then it disappeared and was replaced by a door. The door opened slowly to reveal a downward staircase. Abruptly, the door slammed shut. There were numbers on the door: 1824.

The flame flickered, then died down. Penny breathed deeply and shook her hands out. Though the vision had been only a few seconds long, she’d been in the trance several minutes. This she knew from previous experience.

She inverted a silver bowl over the pyre, then walked into her living room. The man sitting on her sofa rose, anticipation on his face.

“She’s in a house whose number is 1824. In the basement. I would search any homes in the target area with that number.”

Detective John McCarthy nodded. “Thanks.” He stopped on his way to the front door and turned halfway toward her. “I don’t have to remind you not to tell anyone, right?”

“No.” She had absolutely no intention of telling anyone that on occasion she helped Detective McCarthy solve abduction cases. Let someone else be strapped to a table, have electrodes stuck to their head, and eventually—who knew?—be put in a big old jar filled with formaldehyde.

When Detective McCarthy was gone, Penny went back into the kitchen and cleaned up the ashes and remnants of the ritual. She wiped the plate clean and replaced it in the special drawer where she kept her ritual supplies.

She washed her hands and cleansed herself by sweeping them up along her sides, then outward, while repeating “swah-hah” several times to cast out the bad juju.

After pouring herself a cup of coffee, she sat in silence in the living room for a few moments. Visions always exhausted her. They required so much energy. She was glad to be able to put this ability she had to good use, and to have the sense to use it wisely. It had taken her a while to learn how to do that, or to believe that it was okay to use it at all. It wasn’t until college that she finally decided it wasn’t wrong.

Still, it wasn’t something she shared freely. Very few people believed or understood. And more than one person had wanted her exorcised. Plus, this ability had its down side. She’d been able to help solve some crimes, and that was great, but she’d seen things she wished she hadn’t.

Including the death of her spouse.

Next week, Anne Wagenbrenner will share an excerpt from her horror story, “Walk Around on Earth, In My Body.” See you there!

Missed last week’s excerpt by Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin? You can find “An Opening Black and Infinite” here.


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