Tag Archives: Michael Wehunt

And the January Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

J. Kyle Turner

J. Kyle won with his story “Xuan the Tiger.”

The prompt for this first contest of 2013 was based on this terribly tragic article, particularly this line: “She was dying a death that was meant for someone else.”

J. Kyle’s story won decisively, receiving nearly double the Second Place votes.

In Second Place was “Balladyna,” by Michael Wehunt, his fourth Top 3 finish. He’ll also be appearing in our soon-to-be-release sixth issue.

Rounding things out, in Third Place, was Amanda C. Davis’s “Omen.” Amanda is also no stranger to the winners circle; we’ve hosted sixteen contests thus far and Amanda has made the Top 3 seven times!

So a big congratulations to all!

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Announcing Shock Totem #6…

Right on the heels of our fashionably-late fifth issue, we are proud to announce that our sixth issue is primed and almost ready to go. I am doing the layout this time, so I’m making sure everything is perfect. It’s close, though.

For those who have yet to see it, here is the cover artwork:

Once again the cover art was created by the brilliant Mikio Murakami, who has done all our magazine artwork since issue #3.

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* The Spectacular Inspiration Suit, by John Boden (Editorial)
* For Jack, by P.K. Gardner
* Orion, by Michael Wehunt
* The Hard Way: A Conversation with Gary McMahon, by John Boden
* Ballad of the Man with the Shark Tooth Bracelet, by Lucia Starkey
* She Disappeared, by Ryan Bridger (Narrative Nonfiction)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* No One But Us Monsters, by Hubert Dade
* The Cocktail Party, by Addison Clift
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 4, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* Lighten Up, by Jack Ketchum
* Magnolia’s Prayer, by John Guzman (2012 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* When We Crash Against Reality: A Conversation with Lee Thompson, by K. Allen Wood
* The River, by Lee Thompson
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

Yet again we feel this issue sits well apart from previous issues, though without straying too far from what readers have come to expect from us. We dig it, and we’re confident you will as well.

Look for it soon in digital format. Print will follow shortly after, and if interested you can preorder it here.

As always, thank you for your continued support!

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You Shall Never Know When the Veil Drops

The thirteen tales collected in You Shall Never Know Security, by J.R. Hamantaschen, are strange. Dark and strange. I’d even go so far as to use the term “bizarro” for some of them. Not all, but a few.

At the ripe old age of twenty-seven, Hamantaschen has a deft hand when it comes to language, but sometimes the wordage grows unwieldy. Sometimes less is more, as they say. One of the few complaints I have with this collection is that some of his word usage made me feel stupid and wishing I had a dictionary close by.

But onto more important things, the stories.

We begin with a high school drama, a la Lovecraft, titled “A Lower Power.” This one is full of adolescent snark and otherworldly snarl. “Wonder” is one of my favorites from the collection and there is not much I can tell without spoiling the magic. “Endemic” is a high tech off-kilter tale of Internet popularity. The literal title of “A Parasite Inside Your Brain” tells you all you need to know about this one.

There is a great deal of black humor to these, none more evident than in “Jordan, When Are You Going to Settle Down, Get Married and Have Us Some Children?” where a very nervous man, saddled with a unique curse, rediscovers why he has remained alone. “College” is an exercise in humanity courses, taken to the Nth degree. “Nothing” is another fist to the forehead. And the volume closes with the darkly brilliant “There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere.” This novella-length tale is compelling and unique. Well worth the price of admission alone.

If you like your fiction unique and on the darker side, if you wonder what Robert Aickman would sound like had he written in the Now instead of the Then…your answer is here.

For When the Veil Drops is the second release from West Pigeon Press, the first being the Hamantaschen collection above. While the previous is a single-author collection, For When the Veil Drops is an anthology featuring work by fifteen authors, Hamantaschen included. It contains some brilliant work, as well as a few that left me shaking my head.

Christian A. Larsen’s “724” gives us a scenario we’ve read before but delivered in a very strong way. “The Chopping Block,” by Doug Murano, is a slightly surreal and brutally effective survival drill. Yarrow Paisley gives us a Lovecraftian plague in “The Persistence of Frondu.” One of the strongest pieces comes from Michael Wehunt, whose “A Coat That Fell” is haunting in its bleakness and raw power.

Another that I favored was Samuel Minier’s “The Third List,” wherein we find out that sometimes, in regards to Santa, two categories is never enough. J.R. Hamantaschen turns in a fantastic neo-noir revenge story with “Oh Abel, Oh Absalom.”

The stories that I didn’t mention were not exactly bad, they just failed to resonate with me for some reason…but trust me, the ones that did make it well worth your time and money. For a new press, and a table of contents full of mostly newer names, this is a strong anthology. I have feeling we’ll be seeing quite a few of these authors for some time to come.

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And the September Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Steven Bouchard

Steven won with his story “The Whole Tooth.”

The prompt for this contest was a photo taken outside the hotel this year’s Horrorfind convention was held at. A creepy little thing, indeed!

The contest was close this month. The top three were all within a point of each other, and we had a three-way tie for Second!

In addition to Steven’s winning tale, Megan Engelhardt (her fourth top-three finish), H.L. Fullerton (July’s winner), and Amanda C. Davis (her sixth time in the top three) all tied for Second Place, and Allison Dellinger took Third Place.

Steven’s story, plus this year’s four previous winning stories, will be judged by a neutral reader, someone who is not on the staff and has not participated in any contest, and the story he or she chooses will be published in issue #6!

So a big congratulations to all the winners throughout 2012!

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And the May Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

John Guzman

John won with his story “Magnolia’s Prayer.”

The prompt for this contest was based on something that has intrigued me for a few years now, ever since I read a few articles on the mystery of undelivered mail. I’ve wanted to write a story about it, but the muse hasn’t been moved, so 41 other authors gave it a shot.

Why do some mailmen hoard undelivered mail? There are obvious reasons, of course—theft, hoarding, etc.—but the authors were instructed to be more creative, write about the not-so-obvious reasons, be unique, stretch the boundaries.

In addition to John’s winning tale, Michael Wehunt, top dog in March’s contest, came in second with “Pavement Rich in Gold”; and Third Place went to “The Things We Hide From View,” by Damien Walters Grintalis, which is her sixth top-three finish!

Congratulations, fellas!

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And the March Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Michael Wehunt

Michael won with his story “Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness.” Not only did he win the contest, but we just sent him an acceptance letter for another story to be published in issue #6. He’s had quite a good day!

The prompt for this contest was this photo, the so-called “blood waterfall,” which Nick wrote about last year. Obviously it is not blood (unless Nick is to be believed), so we asked the authors to explore a simple question:

What if it was blood coming from the earth?

Participants were required to build their story around that image and question. Nearly 50 signed up, 29 finished.

In addition to Michael’s winning tale, Andrew Bourelle came in second with his brilliantly titled “Haemorrhagia Memoriae,” and Third Place went to “Alizarin, with Variations,” by Gio Clairval.

Congratulations, fellas!

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