Tag Archives: Mercedes M. Yardley

Psychos and the Appalachian Undead

Some staff news, ya’ll! Cue banjo!

This coming October, if not sooner, Apex Publications is set to release Appalachian Undead, a new anthology dedicated to the walking dead. I contributed a quirky tale called “Long Days to Come.”

[ click for full image ]

The brilliant artwork was created by Cortney Skinner. Quite a lineup, too: Elizabeth Massie, Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, S. Clayton Rhodes*, Maurice Broaddus, Bev Vincent, Tim Lebbon, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Skipp* & Dori Miller, and Gary A. Braunbeck, to name a few more than a few.

If you’d like to check out the full table of contents, click here.

You can also pre-order via the above link (and get 5% off if you tweet the link), but before you do, check out this groovy contest they’re running for those who do pre-order.

As always from Apex Publications, you can expect quality.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes and John each have stories—“Murder for Beginners” and “Intruder,” respectively—in Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane, the latest slab—and I do mean slab; these things are massive—in an ongoing series edited by the inimitable John Skipp which has thus far included Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within, and Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed.

[ click for larger image ]

Psychos is due out in September via Black Dog & Leventhal, and features new and classic fiction from the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Lawerence Block, Neil Gaiman, Leslianne Wilder*, Violet LeVoit, Weston Ochse*, Kathe Koja, and many more.

If you order now, Amazon has it for $10.07. That’s 608 pages for $10! No-brainer.

We hope you’ll buy both!

* Shock Totem alumni.

Posted in Alumni News, New Releases, Recommended Reading, Staff News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair

FULL DISCLOSURE: The editor and publisher of this anthology, Robert J. Duperre, occasionally writes reviews for Shock Totem. The book also features work from Duperre as well as stories from Shock Totem publisher K. Allen Wood and editor Mercedes M. Yardley.

While horror has traditionally been associated with gore and the supernatural, it often finds it’s most fertile soil in ordinary themes that we are truly frightened of.

We can all enjoy stories about vampires or zombies, but those things don’t scare us much because no matter how skilled the author is at creating what Coleridge referred to as the “suspension of disbelief” we know that we can put the book down and walk away from it knowing that those things are not real.

But we’ve all been lonely. Even the most misanthropic among us would find it difficult if not impossible to survive in a state of total isolation. It’s why of all the cruel and unusual punishments we inflict on criminals, one of the most feared is solitary confinement, which can often create symptoms of psychosis in otherwise normal inmates.

In The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, published by T.R.O. Publishing, editor Robert J. Duperre offers us a varied assortment of horror tales. Some of them have supernatural elements, others don’t. Some are grim, some are humorous, some are creepy. The common thread running through these stories is the theme of isolation. It tinges the humor with sadness and makes the supernatural more believable.

This is a great collection. Some stories I liked better than others, of course, but none were duds, a relative rarity among independent anthologies. I especially liked how each author approached the theme of isolation from such different angles. Each story is also accompanied by a full-page illustration by Jesse David Young.

In the first story, “Plastic,” author J.L. Bryan gives us a funny and poignant take on the post-apocalyptic man who finds himself alone theme that we’ve all seen before. Bryan’s version is a fresh spin on the common topic, and genuinely comical. Daniel Pyle’s “Night-Night” is a nifty little story that kept its twist well hidden.

In one of the most literary stories, Steven Pirie offers us a gut-wrenching insight into the casual cruelties that many people inflict on people who are isolated within themselves by severe injuries. All of the stories here are well written, but Steve’s “Does Laura Like Elephants?” stands out as a real gem.

K. Allen Wood’s “The Candle Eaters” is a classic and very effective look at a Halloween tradition with an unusual spin. And in one of the creepiest stories of the volume, Mercedes M. Yardley offers us “Black Mary,” a very effective story that I really can’t summarize without giving it away. You’ll just have to get a hold of this volume and read it along with all the rest for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

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Announcing Shock Totem #5…

Shock Totem is proud to announce that we will finally be unleashing another great issue of darkly weird fiction!

Our fifth issue was originally scheduled to come out in January, but for reasons which you can read here we made the hard choice to delay it until July. And now with July nearly upon us, that wait, thankfully, is over.

For those who have yet to see it, here is the cover for issue #5:

Another brilliant piece of work from Mikio Murakami, who has done all our magazine artwork since issue #3.

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* Taking Root, by Mercedes M. Yardley (Editorial)
* In Deepest Silence, by Ari Marmell
* Girl and the Blue Burqa, by D. Thomas Mooers
* Digging in the Dirt: A Conversation with Jack Ketchum, by John Boden
* Hide-and-Seek, by F.J. Bergmann (Poem)
* Eyes of a Stranger, by Nick Contor (Essay)
* Postmortem, by Kurt Newton (5-Part Illustrated Micro-Serial)
* Jimmy Bunny, by Darrell Schweitzer
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Little Knife Houses, by Jaelithe Ingold (2011 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* Canon, by Anaea Lay
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 3, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* The Catch, by Joe Mirabello
* Three Strikes, by Mekenzie Larsen
* To ‘Bie or Not to ‘Bie, by Sean Eads
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

We’re really pleased with how this issue turned out. It’s unlike any of our previous issues, which were themselves unlike previous issues, yet as always it is still clearly Shock Totem. We think you’ll enjoy it.

Look for it next month, in print and digital formats. And if you want to get it out of the way now, you can preorder the issue here.

As always, thank you for your continued support!

Posted in Alumni News, New Releases, Publishing, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Conversation with Anthony J. Rapino

Anthony Rapino is a dark fiction author with a sense of humor. It was cool to interview him. Hope you enjoy!

MY: So, Anthony, thanks for stopping by! Why don’t you start off by telling me what you have out, and what you’re currently working on.

AR: Thanks so much for having me. I have to admit, my first impulse when you asked what I “have out” was to tell a vulgar joke. Let me just tuck that away. The vulgarity, I mean! Oof. What’s that they say about first impressions?

MY: Your first impression is shot.

AR: Moving on. I currently have a few short stories out in print magazines and anthologies such as the Arcane Anthology, On Spec #86, and Black Ink Horror 7. I of course also have the short story collection Welcome to Moon Hill available through Amazon, and my debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World available from Bad Moon Books. They put out a beautiful limited signed hardcover edition as well as a paperback edition.

I’m currently working on a two different super-secret anthology submissions. I’m also working on my second novel, which I published an excerpt of in Welcome to Moon Hill.


Posted in Blog, Interviews, On Writing, Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Enter the Gate—Free Admission!

T.R.O. Publishing recently released the second installment of The Gate series, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, an anthology featuring work from two of Shock Totem’s own—Mercedes M. Yardley (“Black Mary”) and me, K. Allen Wood (“The Candle Eaters”).

You can get the print version for $8.59 or, if you’re a Kindle owner, download it for free. It’ll be available at no cost today and throughout tomorrow.

[ Copyright © 2012 by Jesse David Young ]

In addition, you’ll find work by Daniel Pyle, Steven Pirie, David Dalglish, Robert J. Duperre, and seven others.

So if you’re looking for some great fiction at no cost, check out The Gate 2.

Posted in Blog, Free Fiction, Recommended Reading, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Best New Writing of 2012

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I was on the short list for theEric Hoffer Award. Woo!

While the very worthy “Peep Show,” by Louise Beech, won the award, I made it into their Best New Writing 2012 anthology.

When I was in college, their Best New Writing collections were part of my class curriculum. I actually had to go out and buy a copy to study from. I was introduced to some delightful stories that way.

And now? Who knows, maybe somebody will read my tale, “Stars,” and find something of worth in it.

Posted in Alumni News, Staff News | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your First Hate Mail

My guest post, “Your First Hate Mail: How Life Can Change After Working for a Magazine,” is up and running at The Fictorian Era

Come by and say hello!

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Special Shock Totem Holiday E-book—Now Available!

Now available for the Kindle, Shock Totem’s special holiday e-book. You can purchase a copy here for $0.99. To purchase copies from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, or Amazon.fr, click the Digital link at the top of our site.

This issue features an eclectic mix of holiday-inspired dark fiction from K. Allen Wood, Mercedes M. Yardley, Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Duperre and more. Also anecdotal holiday recollections from Jack Ketchum, Jennifer Pelland, Mark Allen Gunnells, Nick Cato, and a host of others.

Celebrate the holidays with Shock Totem!

Here’s is the table of contents:

* Heartless, by Mercedes M. Yardley
* Vincent Pendergast’s Holiday Recollection
* Jennifer Pelland’s Holiday Recollection
* Streamer of Silver, Ribbon of Red, by K. Allen Wood
* Mark Allan Gunnells’ Holiday Recollection
* Nick Cato’s Holiday Recollection
* Santa Claus Is Coming to Get You, by Kevin J. Anderson
* Stacey Longo’s Holiday Recollection
* Tinsel, by John Boden
* Leslianne Wilder’s Holiday Recollection
* One Good Turn, by Robert J. Duperre
* Jack Ketchum’s Holiday Recollection
* Sheldon Higdon’s Crappy Holiday Recollection
* Christmas Wish, by Sarah Gomes
* Simon McCaffery’s Holiday Recollection
* ‘Twas the Night, by Nick Contor
* Daniel I. Russell’s Holiday Recollection
* Lee Thompson’s Holiday Recollection
* A Krampus Christmas, by Ryan Bridger
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Story Notes)

[ click photo to enlarge ]

Happy holidays!

Posted in Alumni News, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News, Staff News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Wicked Awesome Shock Totem Contest

As some of you know, issue #5 has been delayed until July 2012. However, in March 2012 we will be publishing our first novel. In celebration of that, I thought we’d hold a contest.

The first person to figure out the cypher at the bottom of that picture will win the following:

    1. One copy of our upcoming novel (title to be revealed once the contest is won), signed by the author.
    2. One copy each of the first four Shock Totem issues.
    3. One copy of Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within, a massive tome edited by John Skipp and featuring our very own Mercedes M. Yardley, among other greats.
    4. A one-year (12 issues) digital subscription to one of my favorite publications, Apex Magazine.
    5. And because I have an extra, one old-ass (but in very good condition) copy of The Magazine of Fantasy of Science Fiction, from July 1970, which features the only appearance of Dean Koontz’s “The Mysteries of His Flesh,” the short story that would later be expanded to become his sixth novel, Anti-Man*.

      * Trivia: Dean’s preferred—and better—title was the same as the short story, “The Mysteries of His Flesh,” but the publisher thought it sounded “too gay.”

      Obviously this contest is a bit tougher than most, but I want you to work for those prizes. That said, it’s not as hard as it looks. All the clues you need to lead you to the answer are in this post.

      Post your answers in the comments below. First person to post the correct answer wins!

      (Some of you are ineligible to win, as you know the answer. We know who you are!)

      Amendment: If you guess right, I will ask how you got to that answer. A wild guess that happens to be correct will not count. If you have truly figured it out, you will have no doubt that your answer is correct.

      Amendment #2: If you think you have the correct answer, please post it in the comments section below like others have been doing, that way your answer is time-stamped. But also send me an e-mail at ken@shocktotem.com explaining how you came to that answer.

      Posted in Contests, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

      Halloween Night Fever: End of the Long Walk

      I have to be honest when I say that I was a bit baffled when I set out to read Halloween Night Fever: End of the Long Walk, the first release in a planned five-part series, though, oddly enough, chronologically the third book in the series.

      Dan Graffeo’s book, with its rather bizarre superhero cover, sounded like an unintentionally off-the-wall novel. Several people in the town of Sleepy Owl begin having similar dreams and pull pieces of caribou skin out of that dream into real life. They form a secret society called the Pniese and spend each Halloween night keeping an eye on the dark things that cross over to the land of the living.

      It sounded juvenile. Then I started reading it, and realized that it was, indeed, written for juveniles. And in that vein, I was pleasantly surprised.

      What young’un doesn’t want to read about a group of kids who secretly keep the town safe right under their parents’ noses? The characters were diverse—perhaps even a little too obviously diverse—and had fun, different modes of transportation. Willy Hynes, the protagonist, is a smart-aleck kid who spends more time mouthing off than anything else. And he is funny. The dialogue made me smile several times and is the strongest part of the book.

      Best of all, this is a book that will engage that hard-to-reach niche: boys. There’s action. An undead villain. Older mentors, secret names, and typical Halloween creatures shown in a different light. I’ve already suggested this book to a few boys who struggle with reading.

      Halloween Night Fever: End of the Long Walk is engaging without being too difficult, and is just a fun read all around. Silly, sure. And that was half the charm of it.

      Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments