And the 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

There’s a Tongue in the Drain
by Roger Lovelace


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was our good friend David G. Blake, author of the excellent “A Kite for Sarah” (Nature, Mar 2014) and “Night in the Forest of Loneliness,” which we just reprinted in our Halloween issue.

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2014, David chose “There’s a Tongue in the Drain,” by Roger Lovelace, as the winner. The contest prompt for this story was a simple photo:

I asked participants to answer two questions with their story: Who is this person? What’s up with the grate? You’ll be able to read what Robert came up with in Shock Totem #10, due in early 2015.

Congratulations, Roger, and all our other top three finishers this year!

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The One-Hour Flash Fiction Challenge

This Saturday, December 6, at 8 PM EST, we will once again be hosting our bi-weekly flash fiction challenge. The challenge: You have just one hour to write, edit, and post your story.

This is a “prompted” challenge, meaning your story must be based on the prompt, which will be revealed just before 8 PM. The challenge takes place here on our forum, so you’ll need an account if you want to participate.

The purpose of the challenge is to force you, the writer, to clear your mind of all distractions and write a complete 1,000-word-or-less story within the allotted time. You’ll have to not only write the story, but also edit it, and then post it by 9 PM EST.

For those interested, here are the rules:

Unlike our bi-monthly flash fiction contest, the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge is just for fun. The challenge will be held every other Saturday, officially beginning at exactly 8 PM EST. There are no prizes! And the rules are simple.

1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within one hour, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.

2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.

3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.

4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.

5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and hosts the next contest.

And that’s it. Simple and fun.

Think you can do it? Join the forum and be present this coming Saturday at 8 PM EST. More information can be found on the forum.

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Shock Totem #9.5—Available Now!

Our latest holiday issue is now available!


Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

Treats abound, in this special edition of Shock Totem are seven short stories, one poem, and five nonfiction pieces. Of the fiction, John Boden and Bracken MacLeod venture into dark and weird neighborhoods in “Halloween On…” In “Out of Field Theory,” Kevin Lucia gives us a shadowed glimpse of what lurks beyond the frame. David G. Blake’s “Night in the Forest of Loneliness” smells of autumn and the beautiful death she brings.

Learn why sometimes it’s better to stay home on Halloween in “Tricks and Treats,” by Rose Blackthorn. Kriscinda Lee Everitt’s “Howdy Doody Time” is a poignant nod to the past. The shadows come alive in “Before This Night Is Done,” by Barry Lee Dejasu, and in my story, “The Candle Eaters,” I explore faith and hope and a darkness that haunts us all.

In addition to the fiction, Sydney Leigh provides a very fine poem, “Allhallowtide (To the Faithless Departed).”

Authors John Langan, Lee Thomas, and Jeremy Wagner, as well as filmmaker Mike Lombardo and the always wonderful and brusque Babs Boden, provide anecdotal Halloween recollections.

No tricks, all treats.

Table of Contents:

* Halloween On, by John Boden and Bracken MacLeod
* Night in the Forest of Loneliness, by David G. Blake
* Kore, by John Langan (Holiday Recollection)
* Out of Field Theory, by Kevin Lucia
* Tricks and Treats, by Rose Blackthorn
* Witches and the March of Dimes, and Mike Warnke, by Babs Boden (Holiday Recollection)
* Howdy Doody Time, by Kriscinda Lee Everitt
* When I Scared Myself Out of Halloween, by Jeremy Wagner (Holiday Recollection)
* Before This Night Is Done, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* The Mansion, by Lee Thomas (Holiday Recollection)
* Allhallowtide (To the Faithless Departed), by Sydney Leigh (Poetry)
* Flay Bells Ring, or How the Horror Filmmaker Stole Christmas, by Mike Lombardo (Holiday Recollection)
* The Candle Eaters, by K. Allen Wood
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

The print edition can be purchased at our webstore or Amazon.com and other retailers. The Kindle edition can be found here.

Learn more about our holiday issues here. And as always, thank you for the support!

Please note that if you buy the print edition through Amazon.com, you will also receive the Kindle edition for free.

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Shock Totem #9—Available Now!

We are very proud to announce the release of our ninth issue!


Click for larger image.

In this ninth issue of Shock Totem you will find not only a brand new, previously unpublished tale by Stephen Graham Jones, but also an interview with this modern master of words. Kathryn Ohnaka presents “Buddy,” a twisting, slithering serpent of a tale. The words are pure poetry, with fangs. “Saturday,” by Evan Dicken, follows, creeping and crawling and filled with Things that whisper of doom.

Similar whisperings can be heard in Bracken MacLeod’s “Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods” and most of you will know the voices. Tim Lieder’s darkly rhythmic “Hey Man” will get you toe-tapping and “in the mood.” With a touch of science fiction, Emma Osborne’s “The Box Wife” is sure to leave you uncomfortable. The box wife is one and many, but you’ll recognize all.

Stephen King once called Jack Ketchum “the scariest guy in America.” What scares the scariest guy in America? Karen Runge. And you’ll know why after reading “Good Help.” Peter Gutiérrez provides the poetry with his outstanding “Anteroom.” Closing out the fiction in this issue is S.R. Mastrantone’s “Alan Roscoe’s Change of Heart,” a tale that chips away at a well-mined vein–the near-death experience–but manages to produce an untouched gem.

In addition to the previously-mentioned conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, F. Paul Wilson is also interviewed. The seventh installment of our music-meets-horror serial, “Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes,” tackles the 80s and Catherine Grant provides the editorial, a scary piece that hits close to home for creators and readers of horror.

All that and more!

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* Unacceptable Content, by Catherine Grant (Editorial)
* Buddy, by Kathryn Ohnaka
* Saturday, by Evan Dicken
* Morning Books and Evening Books: A Conversation with F. Paul Wilson, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods, by Bracken MacLeod
* Anteroom, by Peter Gutiérrez (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Hey Man, by Tim Lieder
* The Nightmare Rolls On: A Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, by Zachary C. Parker
* You Are Here, by Stephen Graham Jones
* The Box Wife, by Emma Osborne
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 7, by John Boden and Bracken MacLeod (Article)
* Good Help, by Karen Runge
* Alan Roscoe’s Change of Heart, by S.R. Mastrantone
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

The print edition can be purchased at our webstore or Amazon.com and other retailers. The Kindle edition can be found here.

As always, thank you for your continued support!

Please note that if you buy the print edition through Amazon.com, you will also receive the Kindle edition for free.

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Adam Cesare’s ZERO LIVES REMAINING—Pre-order Now!


Click to Pre-order.

Along with our friends Frank Walls (artwork), Mike Lombardo and Reel Splatter Productions (film, photography), and Nick Gucker (illustrations), among others, we have been working very hard to make this one of the best limited editions ever released.

Strictly limited to 100 copies, the hardcover itself will be made to look like a VHS tape, which will then be housed in a classic VHS case with full wraparound “80s horror film” artwork and photography (see below) exclusive to this edition. A special insert will feature additional artwork and photography. Nick Gucker provides exclusive interior illustrations. Also included, a bonus short story by the author.



RIP Kaleigh Brodbeck

We expect this edition to sell out very quickly, so pre-order now if you want to secure a copy. Our goal is to begin shipping in early December. Paperback and digital editions will be available as well.

If you have any questions, please ask.

(Special thanks to Mike Lombardo and the Reel Splatter Productions crew for the brilliant trailer!)

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September 2014 Flash Fiction Contest

Every other month we host a flash fiction contest on our forum. The next contest begins on Tuesday, September 1. This will be the last contest of 2014.

Participants have one week to write a story based on a prompt that we provide. The prompt must be integral to the story. This requirement, we hope, forces writers to pen a brand-new tale rather than submit some previously written or reworked story.

When the week is up, the stories are anonymously posted in the hidden contest forum. The entrants then have three weeks to read each story and vote on their top three. Additionally, most give feedback on each story, thus ensuring everyone gets something out of the contest.

The final contest of the year is in September. Once that winner is announced, all five individual winners throughout the year will be given to a neutral judge, who will then pick his or her favorite. That story will be published in the next issue of Shock Totem!

If interested, sign up here. It’s a good time.

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Closed for Summer Break—Extended!

UPDATE: We are extending our summer break by one month. We just sent out our final batch of submission responses, which means my staff got no break at all. So I am giving them the next month off from reading slush. We will reopen on September 1. I appreciate your understanding. Thanks!

—Ken

Shock Totem Publications has locked the doors and barred the windows. It’s vacation time! We will reopen for submissions on August 1. If you have a story with us now, expect a response soon.


“No more slush. NO MORE SLUSH!”

Until then…

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Dominoes Wins a DRAWA!

We are excited and humbled to announce that Dominoes has won a Written Backwards Award, also known as a DRAWA. These awards are given by Michael Bailey, editor of Chiral Mad, and seek to “celebrate the recognition of a literary marvel,” which leaves our very own John Boden in some impressive company that includes Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Joe Hill.

As Bailey said in his announcement: “The following works were admired greatly, and can forever be considered literary marvels from this point onward.” Go to his blog for the full list of winners, as well as recipients of the Presence, Inspiration, and Voice DRAWA.

Congratulations, John Boden, on this recognition of your talents. We’d also like to share this award with illustrator Yannick Bouchard, who was the other half of Dominoes, with a creative vision that complimented John’s prose and made our “Little Horror Book” complete.

Dominoes can be purchased via Amazon or our webstore.

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And the March 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Cory Cone

Cory won with his story “The Better Magician.” The prompt for this month’s contest was this image:


Click for larger image.

For this contest, we set the following guidelines: “These look like hotel keys, but they’re not. That’s too easy. So what are they for? Once you figure that out, choose an empty slot and tell us its tale. The number, the key(s), what are they for? Who are they connected to? Why? These are all significant and must be part of your tale.”

Thirty people participated. Aside from Cory’s First Place win, Second Place went to HL Fullerton, and Allison Dellinger claimed Third Place. Cory’s story will now go into the running for the overall winner for 2014, to be determined later this year.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Congratulations, Damien Angelica Walters!

The TOC for the Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 1, edited by Michael Kelly and Laird Barron, has been released. We’re very proud to announce that Damien Angelica Walters’ “Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” from Shock Totem #7 made the final cut. Well deserved indeed.

So a huge congratulations, Damien!

And though hers is the only Shock Totem tale included, she is not the only Shock Totem author. Also appearing will be A.C. Wise (Shock Totem #4) and Kristi DeMeester (Shock Totem #7). Congrats to you both, as well!

Here is the full TOC:

* “Success” by Michael Blumlein, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov./Dec.
* “Like Feather, Like Bone” by Kristi DeMeester, Shimmer #17
* “A Terror” by Jeffrey Ford, Tor.com, July.
* “The Key to Your Heart Is Made of Brass” by John R. Fultz, Fungi #21
* “A Cavern of Redbrick” by Richard Gavin, Shadows & Tall Trees #5
* “The Krakatoan” by Maria Dahvana Headley, Nightmare Magazine/The Lowest Heaven, July.
* “Bor Urus” by John Langan, Shadow’s Edge
* “Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn, The Grimscribe’s Puppets
* “Eyes Exchange Bank” by Scott Nicolay, The Grimscribe’s Puppets
* “A Quest of Dream” by W.H. Pugmire, Bohemians of Sesqua Valley
* “(he) Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror” by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., Lovecraft eZine #28
* “Dr. Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron” by A.C. Wise, Ideomancer Vol. 12 Issue 2
* “The Year of the Rat” by Chen Quifan, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August.
* “Fox into Lady” by Anne-Sylvie Salzman, Darkscapes
* “Olimpia’s Ghost” by Sofia Samatar, Phantom Drift #3
* “The Nineteenth Step” by Simon Strantzas, Shadows Edge
* “The Girl in the Blue Coat” by Anna Taborska, Exotic Gothic 5 Vol. 1
* “In Limbo” by Jeffrey Thomas, Worship the Night Ranger“Moonstruck” by Karen Tidbeck, Shadows & Tall Trees #5
* “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks” by Paul Tremblay, Bourbon Penn #8
* “No Breather in the World But Thee” by Jeff VanderMeer, Nightmare Magazine, March.
* “Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” by Damien Angelica Walters, Shock Totem #7.

As you can see, a brilliant lineup! Congrats again, ladies! And to everyone else who made the final cut, of course. =)

You can read more about this collection here.

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