Shock Totem at Anthocon

After a long absence from conventions, this coming weekend, June 5–7, we will have a table at the fourth annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon) up in Portsmouth, NH. Special guests include Christopher Golden, Tom Monteleone, James A. Moore, Gene O’Neill, and more…

Cat and Barry will be manning the table and selling copies of all Shock Totem releases at a generous discount. Barry will also be selling his hand-drawn bookmarks, individually or as a set.

Anyway, it is sure to be a helluva good time. Stop by the Shock Totem table and say hello (and maybe buy a thing or two).

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The One-Hour Flash Fiction Challenge

This Saturday, May 23rd, 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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Thank You, Brian Keene!

Brian Keene, bestselling horror author of such titles as The Rising, Ghoul, Earthworm Gods, and The Lost Level, recently listed his top 10 favorite books published in 2014 on his podcast, The Horror Show.

In the fifth episode of The Horror Show, Keene listed Dominoes, written by our own John Boden and illustrated by Yannick Bouchard, at #8!


Click for full-size images.

Mr. Keene was taken by the “really interesting production” of the book, in particular its deceptively Little Golden Book-inspired layout and illustrations. “It’s a really cool little thing!” he said.

We here at Shock Totem thank you very much for the shout-out, Mr. Keene!

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Beautiful Sorrows—Free!

Beautiful Sorrows… delicate prose with devastating impact. Mercedes Yardley is a female Joe Hill, and I fear her ‘Broken’ will haunt me to my grave.” —F. Paul Wilson

In recognition of Women in Horror Month, we are offering for free the Kindle edition of Beautiful Sorrows, by Mercedes M. Yardley.


[ Cover created by Yannick Bouchard ]

It’ll be free through Friday. Download it here.

And if you’re looking for more great female authors, why not check out an issue of Shock Totem? Each issue features outstanding female talent.

As always, we appreciate your support!

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Open for Novel/Novella Submissions

A new era begins…

Shock Totem Publications is now open for novel/novella submissions!

Please read our updated guidelines and submission requirements on our Submittable page prior to uploading your work.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us.

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Horror After Dark Interviews Shock Totem

Charlene over at Horror After Dark recently interviewed me and John. Charlene is great and it was good fun!

Check it out here.

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Shock Totem Publications: 2015 and Beyond

Shock Totem’s roots stretch back to August of 2008. When John Boden, Nick Contor, and I began this journey, we had big ideas and no publishing experience. We’ve come a long way, to say the least, and it’s been a hell of a ride. I am extremely proud of all that we’ve done through Shock Totem Publications, and I’m grateful to all those who have contributed along the way.

That said, as we enter a new year, there are a few changes coming. Some good, some not so good.

First, there will be no flash fiction contests in 2015. I know this will be disappointing to many, as the contest has been extremely popular since we began running it in 2010, but if you’ve participated in past contests I’m sure you’ll understand why I’ve made this decision.

The next issue of Shock Totem, number ten, will be our last issue for a while. The reasons for this are many, but the biggest reason is simple: kids.

Our first child arrived in October of 2013. From that moment on, life changed in ways I could never have imagined. All parents understand this. Last year was difficult for me. I work from home, so I was basically a stay-at-home dad who also works a full-time job and is a publisher/editor/writer. Suffice it to say, life has been chaos since our son arrived, as wonderful as he is. All parents understand this as well.

I need organization, crave it. I function best when things are organized. As such, I struggled in 2014, was way behind the curve. In the past, authors have told me I was the best editor they’ve ever worked with, particularly with communication. That’s the kind of editor/publisher I want to be. No author published in issues 8 or 9, or our two holiday issues, will tell you that. Each issue was late, e-mails were few and far between, promises were made and not kept—and quite frankly our authors deserved better than that. My staff as well.

I mentioned “kids” above. In late February, or possibly sooner, my wife will give birth to our second child, a girl. (Yes, pushing the elderly ages of 37 and 40, we wasted no time.) Knowing what I know now, knowing how much time and energy just one kid requires, this hiatus is necessary.

As of right now, the goal is to take a complete break from publishing the magazine in 2015 and reopen for submissions on January 1, 2016, with a new issue scheduled for July 2016. That’s the plan. Yes, I know this sort of thing is often a death knell for publications, and I am well aware that it might signal the end of Shock Totem, as I cannot predict what the next year will be like. I certainly do hope to publish more issues of Shock Totem in the years to come. Next year will do the telling.

But that’s just the magazine. We have other plans as well.

In the next few weeks we will begin accepting novel and novella submissions. (Before anyone asks, editing and publishing a novel is infinitely easier than publishing a magazine. And I will have help.) That’s the big one. We have smaller ideas, one-off “fun” projects that we’d like to do, like a zombie collection (trust us, it’ll kick ass), some chapbooks, maybe another holiday issue…

Either way, we’re not going away, not completely; we’re just scaling back for a time so I can be a father. I’d like to read a lot more, too (I read just 13 books in 2014). And I have many stories to finish writing. My DRAFTS folder is overflowing! But most important, I need to first learn what it’s going to take to be a great father to two children. If ultimately that means laying Shock Totem to rest, so be it. We’ve had a wonderful run, right?

But don’t worry. We’re not dead yet.

Happy New Year!

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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 Roger 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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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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