It's Over

Goodbye 2021

Thanks to everyone who visited this site in 2021, but a special tip of the hat must go to the pandemic. More people hunkered down and turned to writing, which translated to a 25% increase in visitors this year. More writing is always good.

You came from far and wide, according to the WordPress statistics. The top five countries viewing the blog were: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and, for reasons which escape me, Palestinian Territories. Australia was a close sixth.

Speaking of sixth, 2021 wraps up year number six for this website. The content is still free, with no paywalls, subscriptions or tip jars. Everything is done for the love of writing, and referrals come from those who appreciate it. Other than Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Reader, the top five referrers were Samjoko Magazine, Sandra Seamans, Christopher Fielden, 805 Lit and Reddit PubTips. Many, many others contributed to the increased amount of views this year. Thank you.

My writer’s ego wanted to believe everyone came to read about the stories I got published, but most traffic came primarily to view The Short List, which now features nearly 1,800 entries. There were 258 additions to the list this year, an average of 21 new publications per month.

For those not familiar with this resource, it is for writers of flash fiction and short prose. The list is organized by word count, providing links to submission guidelines and potential publication. The top five publication links that were clicked this year: Black Hare Press, City River Tree, Unstamatic, The Centrifictionist and Flash Frontier.

For all the publications added to The Short List, many also fall off. A record is kept of defunct journals as a memorial to their efforts to publish writers’ words. And I also get a kick from some of their names—“Malevolent Soap,” how great a name is that?

Here’s to a Happy New Year and for more words in print in 2022. Please be safe.

Published

Saints & Angels

That I found the call for this anthology was fortunate, let alone having my story selected. Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine was the perfect anthology for “Saints & Angels.” The publication is unique, hidden on the outskirts of mainstream publishing; it is an aggregation of poetry, prose and visual art, compiled by the medical students at The University of Oklahoma.

“Saints & Angels” is on the outskirts of my usual genres. A melancholy character study about a man visiting his wife in the hospital. The usual sci-fi, horror and fantasy journals that published my other tales were out of the question. I was at a loss where to send it. Then I happened on Blood and Thunder.

The anthology is filled with interesting writing and visuals on health and health care. I was lucky to find it. Please support them by purchasing a copy.

Anniversary

Five Years Ago

By November 2016, my backlog of unpublished stories was growing. Those rejected were scrutinized, revised and sent out again to another potential journal. By the end of that year and a total of 150 submission, I had 16 acceptances. Those published were mostly microfiction (100 words or less) or flash fiction (under 1,000 words). Two of them were fictionalized scenes from everyday life: Perfect Square of Sky appeared in The Flash Fiction Press and was based on a trip to the dentist; Forget-Me-Pops, in ZeroFlash, harkened back to my days as a copywriter. I used to write radio commercials, so I called on that experience to produce ad copy for a fake breakfast cereal. Sadly, at this writing, both those journals no longer publish new issues.

Published

Amy’s Face

This is a character study of a dark relationship between a photographer and his former muse. They meet again years after their collaboration brought them both fame. Originally published in October 2020 in Siren’s Call eZine, Issue #51.

Amy’s Face

by DL Shirey

Syren met my glance, then didn’t. One blink was all, as if the very sight of me reminded her of the person she no longer wanted to be. But for one instant it was Amy behind her eyes.

I concentrated on the irony instead of my feelings. Syren still looked like my Amy: thin, disheveled and sad. Syren’s makeup was perfectly applied to look trashy. Who knows how long it took a stylist to create Syren’s quintessential mess of smudged shadows and eyeliner mistakes? When I knew her as Amy, she would glop on makeup by feel, smearing the hollows of her eyes aimlessly. It only took two minutes before the mirror, but she’d reflect on the results for an hour. Few were allowed to see Amy’s naked eyes. Sometimes I did, briefly, before the bedside lamp snapped off.

Only once did my camera catch Amy plain. One morning while she slept, sheets whitened by sunlight, I released the shutter. Even in dreams she frowned. Minutes later she woke and rushed to put on her face.

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Anniversary

Five Years Ago

Five years ago, pre-Covid, my story Tasting Apples at the Edge of Epidemic was published. Aside from it’s prophetic nature, this may have been the first story where I started with a twist already in mind. To this point, my storytelling style was to go wherever the writing took me. This one was calculated from the get-go: the story’s narrator laments about his wife, but her fate is not what the reader is lead to believe. The story sprung from an annual apple tasting at our local garden supply store. My speculative brain engaged and projected the event into a future where… well, where we are in ’20-21 with the pandemic. Goes without saying that those apple tastings have been cancelled in recent years, just as my story foretold.

The other published story, Barbarism, was the first of many 50-word microfictions to come. I enjoy the challenge of creating a complete, satisfying scene in an exact word count. Thankfully, there are a number of publications out there that look for these tiny tales.

Published

Body Neutral

This story had an interesting affect on a member of my writer’s group. She walked out halfway through my reading. Granted, the main character is objectified solely on appearance. But that’s the whole point of the story. I urged the woman to wait for the big reveal at the end, to see if she felt the same disgust. I guess I’ll never know. I never saw her again. And I doubt she’ll click over and read it in The Chamber Magazine.

Published

Cathuranjalee

image : mvslim.com

Of all my stories, Cathuranjalee is the most satisfying. Like the title character, the tale had a rough road to freedom. Quite a bit of research went into it because I wanted authenticity in the characters’ clothing and locations in the Nubian desert. I dashed off a 2,000 word first draft and my writing group advised me that the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying. A couple of rewrites later, length tripled, it was ready for submission. Almost immediately, it was snatched up by a publisher of fantasy fiction. I signed a contract and waited. It never saw print, but I was contractually obligated to wait a full 18 months before I could submit elsewhere. When I did, Inked In Gray Press published it in “What Remains,” an anthology of excellent short stories available on Amazon.

Published

Mourning on Calendas

Here’s another sci-fi tale that packs a lot of story in a small space. It tells how a moon got its first homesteaders and how society grew. It’s also about a mother teaching her son about death. All in 1,462 words. Published in September 2020 by the speculative fiction magazine All Worlds Wayfarer. To buy the issue, find a link on my Amazon author page.

In an interesting addendum, writing this story lead to an author interview.

Mourning on Calendas

by DL Shirey

“There.” Lalin’s first word since I explained the rules of quiet.

He had been emulating other mourners he’d seen today: their slow, exaggerated strides, prayer-hands folded beneath chins, heads tilted downward. Now, Lalin remembered the path from a year ago and ran up the switchback to the top of the slope.

When he looked back and saw I hadn’t altered my lockstep, he flattened his palms together and pulled them to his chest. When he bowed his head again I could see his silvery blond hair needed cutting.

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Published

Stone Man & Statue Boy

Mt. Tabor is a park atop an ancient cinder cone, within walking distance of my house in Portland, Oregon. It is quite a climb up that hill. There is used to be a statue at the summit, of a newspaperman pointing west. The trek up to the statue was the inspiration of the story. In actuality, he stands alone. For the story I invented Statue Boy, to add an element of surrealism and to have another character to interact with the protagonist.

I don’t know the politics of the newspaperman, but Oregon has a history–to be polite–of not being particularly welcoming to minorities. This is also a theme I wanted to touch on in the story. This piece was first published in September 2020 by Fleas on the Dog. And, by the way, this is the second Portland statue that inspired a story.

Stone Man & Statue Boy

by DL Shirey

Alone at the top of 79 stairs, only my footprints follow. Each step below has a concrete space kicked from the steep, powdery incline. I pause to catch my breath, feel the rasp at the back of my throat from cold air and tired lungs. SUVs will soon brave the snowy streets, depositing children and sleds and romping dogs in the parking lot below this hillside park.

Even though I’ve stopped walking, there remains a sense of forward motion as clouds push fast overhead. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any wind down here in the park; nothing to help the trees shrug off their burdens of white.

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