Published

The Difference Blood Makes

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image : hiveminer.com

Horror writing has always been part of my speculative toolbox. When I started writing these stories, there were things I vowed NOT to do: werewolves howling at the moon, unearthing a mummy, or the same old vampire tale. This pledge came with a disclaimer, that I would give myself the go-ahead if I found a unique way to approach tried-and-true monsters. “The Difference Blood Makes” is such a tale. Available in ebook or print it was first published as part of the third Weird and Whatnot anthology (11/16/19 issue).

The Difference Blood Makes

by DL Shirey

[Manchester, England 1951]

“That’s correct. No names, just the place and year where the portrait was taken,” Merrick said. “Most of my subjects prefer to remain anonymous. This scholarly looking devil happened to be in my hometown, a childhood friend patient enough to sit many times while I perfected my process. Over here is an example which better explains it.”

A dozen reporters and art critics hurried after Merrick, toward the gallery’s far wall. His quick pace belied his eighty years. A few of the stragglers were jotting notes. One wrote spry to describe the artist. Another scribbled dapper.

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Published

Sunday Dress

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image : haveringadultcollege.co.uk

Four or five years ago, on a trip to New Mexico, I went to a museum and saw an exhibit of paper clothing. Actually, there were more than clothes on display; many everyday objects were also represented—laptop, guitar, bicycle—all made from colorful crepe paper. They came from Vietnam, handmade in tribute to people for whom those objects held special significance. Now, I won’t reveal anything more, that would be spoiling the story. But learning about this lovely tradition stayed with me and was the key to writing “Sunday Dress.” Published by the UK journal ink, sweat and tears.

 

Published

Magic Nation

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image : hakonemaruyama.com

Here’s a speculative piece that’s a departure from my other stories. It’s told in the voice of an eight-year-old child. From his perspective, he may have otherworldly powers or it just might be his imagination. Published by Bewildering Stories.

TSL

The Short List

smallThanks to everyone who visited this site in 2019. You came from far and wide, according to my WordPress statistics. The top five countries viewing my blog were: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and, for reasons which escape me, Palestinian Territories.

Visitors came primarily to view The Short List, which now features 1,200 entries. There were 265 additions to the list this year, an average of 22 new publications per month. Other than Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Reader, the top five referrers to this blog were: Scribofile, Sandra SeamansChristopher Fielden, Winkwriters  and 805 Lit. I appreciate you spreading the word.

The Short List is for writers of flash fiction and short prose. The list is organized by word count, providing links to the submission guidelines and potential publication. These were the top five publication links that were clicked this year: Akashic Books, The Folded Word, Martian, Unstamatic and Purple Fire. I also keep an ever-growing list of departed publications. A moment of silence for those we lost this year.

Other than The Short List, a few other of my blog posts received top clicks: 1-800-CALL-GOD, Barbarism, 6:58, A Fortune, Yesterday’s Pictures and Webs of Flesh. It is no secret that these posts are for stories I wrote. In fact, 14 stories of mine were published or reprinted in 2019. Click on over and give them a read.

Here’s to a Happy New Year and for more words in print in 2020.
Published

Curveball

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image : alamy.com

With some short stories, persistence pays off. Curveball has been searching for a home for nearly four years. I knew the characters were interesting and plot was good, but the story didn’t fit neatly in a genre; it touched the supernatural and a crime was involved, but it fell somewhere in-between. Submitted 25 times and rewritten twice, this tale was  published in October 2019 by Freedom Fiction.

Curveball

by DL Shirey

Ravé Eloh was born a bit wider than the other babies. Not fatter, wider. The doctor told his mother that Ravé’s body was made up of two conjoined twins who had barely started to separate. Then stopped.

He had a third kidney, he told me, a coccyx with two nubby tails, and a small, secondary larynx. But it was Ravé’s face where the twosome really showed. He had a wider-than-usual space between his eyes, a nose with a broad bridge and slight double hump. And when viewed in profile, one side was more feminine compared to the other.

Although it was biologically impossible, Ravé believed he was one-half woman. He called all his extra parts Renee.

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Published

Yesterdays’ Pictures

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image : community-preschool.com

Everyone who reads this piece asks if it’s true. Thankfully, no. The story is fictional and was originally submitted to Reflex Fiction in April 2019. It didn’t win the contest, but they were moved by it and decided to publish it anyway.

Yesterdays’ Pictures

by DL Shirey

The boy beams when finished. Beams. Like the face of God’s son whose name I no longer invoke. For eleven years he’s smiled whenever he sees me. Smiles when I feed him yoghurt. Smiles as I clean up shit and vomit. Gabe is a happy child. Happiest when he finishes a drawing.

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Published

Faithful

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image : slickwraps.com

Exciting update on my short story “Faithful.” It is now available in an anthology on Amazon US (Kindle or paperback) and Amazon UK (Kindle or paperback).

Horror Tree has assembled all stories previous published in their 2018 “Trembling With Fear” column. That’s 204 tales of fright and weirdness (I counted). Stories are listed by the month they were published. Mine is in December.

Published

Where Pluto Used To Be

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image : modishstore.com

Despite the title, this story is more horror than sci-fi. (And as horror goes, fairly mild.) As Corner Bar Magazine editor Garry Somers told me, “It’s like a Twilight Zone episode, only without the preface by Serling that warns you that you’re about to be freaked out.” Being a TZ fan myself, that is high praise. First published in July 2019.

Where Pluto Used To Be

by DL Shirey

The nausea hadn’t started yet, but it was just around the corner. Right now the problem was itching, and those awful thoughts that if she scratched too hard, too often in the same spot, her skin would shred like grated cheese.

Elsa tried not to scrape her manicured nails where it itched most, on her ankles. Instead she crossed her legs, placing a foot on her knee, then gently rubbed at the itch beneath her pant leg. But a laying-on of hands wouldn’t sooth it, nor would a lotion to moisturize skin. Oxy or Vikes would do it.

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