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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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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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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Shock Totem #8.5—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is proud to announce that our second holiday issue is available for purchase!

Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

Love is in the air. Can you feel it? The most wonderful and diabolical emotion of them all, and we’re going to celebrate it. Ostensibly as a Valentine’s Day issue, but really…it’s all about love.

And horror, of course.

In this special edition of Shock Totem you will find “Clocks,” a beautifully tragic tale told by master storyteller Darrell Schweitzer. “Silence,” by Robert J. Duperre, is a gut-wrenching tale of love, war, and death. You won’t soon forget this one. In “Broken Beneath the Paperweight of Your Ghosts,” Damien Angelica Walters tells of a man and his tattered heart. Catherine Grant’s “Sauce” teaches us that sometimes things left behind are best left alone. Tim Waggoner examines the perfect lover in “The Man of Her Dreams.” “Hearts of Women, Hearts of Men,” by Zachary C. Parker, follows a battered woman struggling to free herself from an abusive relationship while a serial killer is on the loose. In total, nine tales await you…

Like our previous holiday issue (Christmas 2011), the fiction is paired with nonfiction, this time by Violet LeVoit, Jassen Bailey, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, C.W. LaSart, Bracken MacLeod, John Dixon, Brian Hodge, and more. True tales of first loves, failed relationships, misfortune, death, sex, and…meatloaf.

Love has its dark side, folks, and fittingly this issue has very sharp teeth.

Come see why Shock Totem is billed as “…one of the strongest horror fiction magazines on the market today” (Hellnotes).

Table of Contents:

* Clocks, by Darrell Schweitzer
* Lose and Learn, by Brian Hodge (Holiday Recollection)
* Hearts of Women, Hearts of Men, by Zachary C. Parker
* Unlearning to Lie, by Mason Bundschuh (Holiday Recollection)
* Sauce, by Catherine Grant
* Something to Chew On, by Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Holiday Recollection)
* Silence, by Robert J. Duperre
* Hanging Up the Gloves, by John Dixon (Holiday Recollection)
* Golden Years, by John Boden
* Akai, by Jassen Bailey (Holiday Recollection)
* She Cries, by K. Allen Wood
* The Same Deep Water As You, by Bracken MacLeod (Holiday Recollection)
* One Lucky Horror Nerd, by James Newman (Holiday Recollection)
* Omen, by Amanda C. Davis
* The Scariest Holiday, by C.W. LaSart (Holiday Recollection)
* Broken Beneath the Paperweight of Your Ghosts, by Damien Angelica Walters
* Everything’s Just Methadone and I Like It, by Violet LeVoit (Holiday Recollection)
* The Sickest Love is Denial, by Richard Thomas (Holiday Recollection)
* The Man of Her Dreams, by Tim Waggoner
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

Currently you can purchase the print edition through Amazon or our webstore. More online retailers will follow in the days and weeks to come. The digital edition can be purchased here.

Interested in our back catalog? All past issues are still available digitally and in print and can be ordered directly from us or through Amazon and other online retailers.

Please note that all of our releases (except Dominoes) are enrolled in Amazon’s MatchBook program, so everyone who purchases a print copy gets a Kindle copy for free.

As always, thank you for the support!

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Shock Totem #8—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is proud to announce that our eighth issue is available for purchase!

Shock Totem returns with its eighth issue, featuring classic tales of hauntings, monsters, and clowns!

Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp, who as collaborators have penned numerous short stories as well as the modern-horror classics Jake’s Wake and Spore, provide “The Barham Offramp Playhouse” and “Depresso the Clown,” respectively. Carlie St. George’s “We Share the Dark” follows a woman struggling to leave her ghosts behind. “Death and the Maiden,” by David Barber, revisits a classic time and a classic character in horror fiction. D.A. D’Amico’s “Watchtower” and John C. Foster’s “Highballing Through Gehenna” both traverse surreal landscapes full of monsters and madness.

WC Roberts, last seen in our third issue, returns with another mindbending slice of poetry, while newcomer Harry Baker’s “Fat Betty” is a stark reminder that sometimes it’s better to give than to take. “Stabat Mater,” by Michael Wehunt, our flash fiction contest winner for 2013, takes parental sacrifice to a whole new level.

You will also find conversations with Cody Goodfellow and rising star Adam Cesare, narrative nonfiction by Catherine Grant, an article by Joe Modzelewski, reviews, and more…

Come see why Shock Totem is billed as “…one of the strongest horror fiction magazines on the market today” (Hellnotes).

Table of Contents:

* Nosferatu: The Origin of Vampires on Screen, by Joe Modzelewski (Article)
* Highballing Through Gehenna, by John C. Foster
* We Share the Dark, by Carlie St. George
* The Highland Lord Brought Low, by Catherine Grant (Narrative Nonfiction)
* A Conversation with Cody Goodfellow, by John Boden
* The Barham Offramp Playhouse, by Cody Goodfellow
* Whisperings Sung Through the Neighborhood of Stilted Sorrows, by WC Roberts (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Watchtower, by D.A. D’Amico
* Death and the Maiden, by David Barber
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 6, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* Fat Betty, by Harry Baker
* A Conversation with Adam Cesare, by K. Allen Wood
* Stabat Mater, by Michael Wehunt (2012 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* Depresso the Clown, by John Skipp
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

Currently you can purchase the print edition through Amazon or our webstore. More online retailers will follow in the days and weeks to come. The digital edition can be purchased here.

Please note that all of our releases (except Dominoes) are enrolled in Amazon’s MatchBook program, so everyone who purchases a print copy gets a Kindle copy for free.

Interested in our back catalog? All past issues are still available digitally and in print and can be ordered directly from us or through Amazon and other online retailers.

As always, thank you for the support!

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And the January 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

J. Kyle Turner

Kyle won with his story “Everybody Needs.” And on the one-year anniversary of his last First Place win!

The prompt for this month’s contest was this discovery of century-old negatives found in the Antarctic. For this contest, I asked the authors to tell us about one or more negatives from the past that, when found in present time, reveal something much more sinister. Though I asked that the setting be a “wintry” one, they were not required to set their tale in the Antarctic or 100 years in the past.

Second Place winner was Shock Totem #7 author Amberle L. Husbands, and Third Place went to Aimee Blume. Kyle’s story will now go into the running for the overall winner for 2014, to be determined later this year.

So a big congratulations to all the winners!

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Closed for Winter Break

Shock Totem Publications has locked the doors and barred the windows. It’s vacation time! Well, sort of; we still have nearly 400 submissions to read.

We will reopen for submissions on February 1, 2014. If you have a story with us now, expect a response soon.


[ Caption added. Original cartoon by Christopher Weyant. ]

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Stay safe and keep writing. Until then…

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The Importance of (Good) Reviews

How important is a review? In today’s publishing world, especially on Amazon.com and its international sites, a good review (four or five stars) is worth quite a bit. Dozens of them are priceless.

Shock Totem does most of its sales through Amazon, the bulk of which are digital sales. That’s a great thing, particularly for our authors. Readers are their lifeblood. Ours as well, but while readers keep us afloat on a pride level, we need revenue to sustain us for years to come.

We’ve been around for five years and each of our issues costs around $1,500 to produce. They say most businesses take five years to become profitable. Thankfully, we’re almost to the point where we’re paying for each release with profit from sales. Our last issue, Shock Totem #7, cost $236 out of pocket, which is wonderful.

We’d love to get to a point where we’re not only paying for issues with profit but also making money, enough to expand, raise our pay rate.

And that’s why we still need your help.

The debut issue of Shock Totem is our biggest seller. This is typical for every month. On Amazon, where it matters most, our debut has 28 reviews. That’s eleven more than the closest second, which is issue #2, with 17 reviews.

Our latest issue, however, has just two reviews. And we’re having a hell of a time getting review sites to respond to review requests these days. Not sure if there’s so much self-publishing going on that they’re overwhelmed with review material or if we’re so established they don’t think we need reviews; but whatever the reason, the reality is, we do need reviews.

Why? Beside the obvious reasons, Amazon.com, where sales are highest, has a ranking algorithm (among other things) that helps authors and publishers sell books. One of the biggest theories, and it’s a good one, is that the more four- and five-star reviews a book has, the more it is shown to potential buyers.

Again, our debut issue has nearly a dozen more reviews than any of our other issues and it’s our biggest seller. Signs point to Yes, the algorithm is real and that issue is being put in front of more potential readers than our other issues.

So how can you help? By posting reviews of our work. They don’t have to be long or have literary flair; they just need to be honest.

The more our sales increase, the longer we’ll be around. When so many publications are using Kickstarter to fund their projects, we’d like to earn people’s money. So if you’d be so kind, please consider reviewing anything of ours that you have read. We’d be very grateful.

In parting, and this applies not only to our books but any book, please note the difference in ratings between sites.

Three stars on Goodreads is not the same as three stars on Amazon. (There is another theory that any review given with less than four stars on Amazon seriously impacts a book’s rankings—kicks it right into the gutter, in fact. Again, this is a theory, but based on authors’ experience, it’s a good one.) For instance, a two-star review on Goodreads should be a three-star review on Amazon, as both mean it was “okay.” Therefore, a three-star review on Goodreads should be a four-star review on Amazon, which helps the author quite a deal more. Again, in theory.

And finally, thank you! Five years strong. We’ve lost some staff along the way, but we’re still dedicated and committed to the long haul. It’s been a hell of a ride so far. Help us keep the wheels on!

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