Dans Macabre Magazine: The Red Masque by Alyne de Winter

The Red Masque

by Alyne de Winter

The chateau stands empty. Moss covers its stones; ivy reclaims it. Without the attention of its Lord, the land begins to fail. The meager grape harvest is testament to barrenness.
Autumn blazed up like a flame, and then died.
Odile appears in a flash of sunlight, cloaked in scarlet. She watches the horizon. He must come. He must come. She circles the fields. The train of her cloak flows behind her like a stream of blood. At dawn she walks, and at twilight…

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To read the complete story press this link:  Danse Macabre Magazine and enter Deleria. Scroll down to The Red Masque and immerse yourself in a tale of true terror.

As you may have noticed I have not blogged for a while. This is because I write fiction and poetry and was publishing my first drafts on this blog. When I began to want to submit work to other magazines with an eye to furthering my writing career, there was a snag. Editors would want first rights and well they should. If my work, even in first draft form was published on the blog, would that count as proper publication? Make my work unacceptable to publishers? After studying this not uncommon dilemma—-I was not alone in this—-I decided it was best to save my fiction for other venues. I enjoy publishing old stories from the public domain so those will continue. I may have to get used to writing posts about the writing process which I currently hate doing. One must have platform in this technocracy today.

I wrote several short stories while I was away and submitted them over the summer. Today I am happy to say that I have had my first one accepted by the fabulous Danse Macabre Magazine. Here’s the link:

Danse Macabre Magazine: Deleria

Please go there right now! Not only will you enjoy the story I wrote, The Red Masque – based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Mask of the Red Death and very grimly set during the French Revolution —  You will love the many other stories and poems, the musical notations, the images that Mr Adam Henry Carriere uses to give his magazine a true feel of magic and Old Europe.


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On Taking Your Time

Jack Torrence--one sentence fiction

I don’t usually rant about writing, especially on the blog. I’m too grateful to be able to do it. But today,  I am inspired.
I love short stories. I have numerous collections of these gems of the literary world. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to curl up with a story that I can read in anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours. If I really like a short story I can read it again without having to make a long-term commitment.  Some authors are at their best in the short form, giving you just enough brilliance to satisfy.

I struggle with the short form. Part of this is genre based. Gothic audiences love dense description, evocative atmospheres, descriptions of clothing and furnishings, the more opulent the imagery the better. We are the Baroque artists of fiction. The  last Romantics. I would be disappointed to pick up a Gothic Romance or Gothic Faery Tale and be denied entry into a seductive setting, rich, decadent, emotional, and loaded with mystery. One of the first expectations of a speculative writer its to create alternate realities. All of this imagery requires WORDS.

I have listened at open mics to writers who can  finish a story  in around 5 minutes.  I have noticed that they are by and large “literary” or “mainstream” stories that describe an emotional situation  that reaches a climax quickly and is resolved. No lush settings, no atmospheres, no passages of description that carry the reader away on the sheer power of their imaginative sensitivity to the outer world. They are inner monologues of sorts—-some of them very powerful and even great—-but NOT Gothic Fantasy, and NOT speculative fiction which what I am about. In fact, I am usually the only genre writer in the room.

Part of the problem is because of usual suspect—-the internet. Lots of people read online. I for one cannot read fiction online. Computers = work for me and aside from research, I want to get on and off fast. (You wouldn’t know it by my blog articles, but then I am writing and can’t keep it short.) If I find a story that I like, I cut and paste it and the print it out so I can read it on paper and really enjoy it. Flash fiction online, I skim and forget it. If its really powerful, I might not forget it, I might even print it out. But my tendency is to skim and not really READ, so much is lost in that process.  Some ezines stack these flashy pieces on top of each other in great numbers. More is better I guess. More skimming and skipping for me.

I used to be a poet. I’ve won prizes for my poems. But I am mainly a novelist. This is because I love to create a world an inhabit it for some time. In the same way, I love to inhabit the worlds of other authors that I like. I want to write short, but sometimes characters get in the way of that. They are like zip files. You open them and they keep opening and you hate to lose all that great material.

The normal length of a short story is anywhere up to 10,000 words. Some of my favorites are that long.  I don’t know why anyone is expected to produce abridged works to fit a 3500 word limit. Cutting can tighten and enhance, but after a certain point, it is sheer butchery. Writers don’t write because the King orders us to do it. We write because I want to, and the orders come from the Muse, who inspired us with visions that we are driven to bring to life. Why would anyone work so hard for so long for nothing unless they wanted to do it? So why should one be expected to butcher their work so someone raised on Sesame Street who has the attentions span of a flea can skim it over? Why not teach children how to read for pleasure again? I didn’t grow up and just pick up a book and start reading it. In fact I used to cut them with scissors. My dad TAUGHT me to love literature by giving me great books like he was bestowing a blessing.

I don’t remember who it was, but some successful author said: “Stories will be as long as they are meant to be. It takes as many words as it takes.” Something like that. But its true. Its like when I was in the theater. This director told us before rehearsal: “Take your time.” Which means “TAKE YOUR time.”

If we can’t create work we love, than why bother doing it at all? There are readers for long short stories. One only has to look through the newest anthologies, Best Fantasy, Best Horror, Best Science Fiction to find tales of all shapes and sizes . Even some novellas—-a form I am especially fond of.

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Review: Forests of the Night by Tanith Lee

Forests of the NightForests of the Night by Tanith Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am currently reading this superb collection of short stories by my favorite, Tanith Lee for the second time. She is the Goddess of short fiction as far as I am concerned. And just like extras you get on DVD, Lee prefaces each story with how she was inspired to write it, giving us emerging writers a valuable peek into the mind of a master.

The first paragraph of the first story, Bloodmantle,encapsulates the evocative power of Tanith Lee’s writing:

“February, the wolf month, is also the color of wolves. And through the pale browns and whites of it, something so very red can be seen from a long way off.”

The next story, The Gorgon won the World Fantasy Award. J’adore the Fin de Siecle Elle est trois (La Morte).
Her twist on Snow White, Red as Blood, was my initiation into the magical Lee-world and, combined with Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, made me want to write fiction. The Hunting of Death: The Unicorn is also rich with poetry. All these stories are wonderful.

This book is rare and out of print. I was willing to pay handsomely for it—that should tell you how much I love Lee’s stories—for what my opinion is worth. If you have a chance to read it, don’t miss out.

View all my reviews

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