Nicknames are a sign of affection in most cultures. I just got back from a 6-week trip to the US. I’m rarely away from my dogs for that long and I realized just how many names I call them during our conversations. As a solitary writer, I speak to my dogs more than anyone. If the amount of Spanglish and other assorted nicknames is any indication of how much I love them, I love them muchísimo. Here’s a list of them so far.
Ah yes, the “C” word. C is for Cancer. It also stands for, well, Crappy. Crummy. BUT, when it comes to Jeri Walker, it’s also about being Courageous.
This is Jeri Walker
You may know Jeri from Word Bank Writing & Editing, where she offers writing tips, editing advice, author interviews and more. It’s a literary heaven, really. It was through this website that I first came to know Jeri, and we quickly became friends. Her intellect was Captivating (another “C”!).
Then, recently, Jeri reached out with words of her breast cancer diagnosis, and it shook the worlds of so many of us. But Jeri, resilient woman that we know her to be, stands strong and uses The Abandoned Boob Chronicles to bring us her deepest thoughts, struggles, and triumphs.
What is The Abandoned Boob Chronicles?
This is Jeri’s way of gaining support and also sharing her experiences along her breast cancer journey, starting from the diagnosis at age 40. It is a GoFundMe campaign, but once you start to read it, you realize it is about so much more than monetary donations, although that is vital. Any donations made through the page will go toward her living expenses, business expenses, therapy sessions, health insurance-related costs, paying off debt and tattoos to cover surgery scars.
Here is a bit of what Jeri Walker writes at The Abandoned Chronicles at GoFundMe:
“What I can give to you is my tale. It’s not just a story about breast cancer. This diagnosis has only provided the structure for framing my narrative. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and it’s a long damn story. I’ve hedged for years over what I should be writing. It’s time for me to do what I do best, which is write about life as I know it in hopes of connecting with others. Authenticity is my superpower. What’s yours?”
Jeri delivers regular updates on her GoFundMe Campaign page about her fight and, as she says, she will win. We say, “You’ve got this, Jeri” and wrap our arms around her. Because she needs us just as much as we need her.
Support for Inspirational Jeri
Please consider donating to The Abandoned Boob Chronicles at GoFundMe. If you are unable to do so, a social media share of her page would be an amazing contribution instead. Let’s raise awareness. It’s a team effort.
Jeri Walker is an inspiration not only for anyone battling breast cancer but also anyone who is looking a scary situation in the eye and telling it to go to H-E double hockey sticks.
We are on the homestretch of our Kickstarter Campaign, so, to thank all you AMAZING people out there who have backed us, we thought it was time to give you all a little taster of what’s coming. Here, below, we have two story extracts.
The first is from ‘Bethesda’, our Issue 1 story by Ross Jeffery. ‘Bethesda’ is a hopeful tale of religious experience, told with a unique and convincing narrative voice that becomes quietly, profoundly moving. ‘Bethesda’ is set in England.
The second, from ‘Under Soil’, by Tice Cin, is set in Cyprus. This dark fiction tale is woven from a Gothic style that slowly unveils a deeper meaning to it. Sensual and intense, this is as vivid as an acid trip, or else, a direct encounter with something beyond the shadow of our daily lives.
Be†hesda – Issue I – Ross Jeffery
I’ve been watching him now for a while: the pale man, as he trudges back and forth from what I assume must be his car, or mini-van, parked at the foot of the hill, stopped from entering the promenade by the safety barrier. It was put in place to stop cars driving onto the beach to unload their cargo. There was a girl who I went to school with a few years back. Jessica was her name. She said that she saw an elderly man crushed to death by one of those cars; he’d been buried up to his neck by someone who’d gone off swimming, leaving him with just his head sticking out, encased in the heavy, wet sand. He didn’t see it coming. The driver didn’t see him either. The huge petrol-guzzling Range Rover drove over his head popping it like a tomato. She said that the blood sprayed out from under the car. But it wasn’t just the head, the Range Rover crushed his limbs beneath the sand. Dead on impact, she said. There was so much blood, it formed a tributary down to the sea. Apparently, it took a good few days for the tide to wash away the blood. It kept on coming back like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands. Gone one moment, back the next. Immediately after, the local authority met and decided there would be no more ‘incidents of this nature’ and so installed a barrier which put a stop to drivers bringing their cars down onto the beach. There were obviously complaints about it all, uproar in local neighbourhood partnership meetings, but in all honesty who can complain about the inconvenience of carrying your beach equipment a hundred yards after an elderly man has been crushed until he popped like a geyser.
The man just stands there now, looking out to sea. He raises his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun on the water. The light refracts off his large watch, sending a blinding beam across the beach in my direction. He lowers his hand and turns to his windbreaker. He reaches into the chest pocket of his jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I can’t make out the brand but catch a flash of red from the pack: Marlborough Reds, strong stuff. He lifts the pack up to his mouth, his lips reaching out and claiming one of the sticks, he slowly pulls the pack away revealing this cigarette hanging from his mouth. In one fluid motion he moves the pack down and into his pocket and when bringing his hand up, opens the zippo lighter with a flickering flame. He inhales, deeply, two jets of smoke pour from his nostrils. With a flick of his wrist the zippo is closed and he places it in the breast pocket of his shirt. He stands there staring out into the surf. He only moves to lift the cigarette to and from his mouth; he doesn’t even move to pick up a child’s red Frisbee that lands a foot away from him. He stares out to sea. He doesn’t move when the children shout at him to pass it back, call him a weirdo, a paedo and a bunch of other derogatory remarks. Just stands there in his backdrop of Jamaican merchandise. I watch intently as one of the boys, the youngest, slightest one is pushed by his friends in the direction of their fallen Frisbee; I see the boy stiffen with terror as he moves, well pushed, towards the Frisbee. What does this say about the boy’s home life if he thinks that interacting with a stranger could cause him to suffer? A dog yaps near me as it jumps over the groyne I’m sitting on, distracting me from my observations. The owner of the dog says hello and good afternoon to me, I reply by moving my mouth but not speaking the words, and add a little head nod for good measure; I’ve always found that odd, total strangers saying hello. I used to shrink into my coat every time my father would say hello to total strangers when we were on family walks in the country. After the stranger is gone. I look back to the man. He’s gone too. The kids are laughing and punching the runt in the arms; he seems to have successfully acquired the red Frisbee. But where is the man?
Under Soil – Issue II – Tice Cin
Her body is dead earth. It has the soft mulch of being left outside for too long and being rained on. The rain never stops. Flesh quivering, the panting of her breath moves hair that has fallen across her collarbone. Small needle marks blemish her skin and raise blood to its surface. Shooting over her legs, threads of blood meet each other as they flow from head to toe. The interlacing of red is divinely timed. Her colour is renewed and replaced interchangeably by the rain, then the blood, and back again. This skin is lace that embroiders the ground. This was the call and now was the time to answer. Standing up, her feet sink in soot, cleaving it free from the gravel beneath. Divinely timed. Heading for the hills, her footprints suck in blackness, leaving traces of her body in their trail. Bound between sky and earth she is the first of her kind. Sent to shake life from her skin, she moves through the heat of the day. As the sun pinches her cheeks she walks with it roasting and drying her offerings, liquid intermingling to infuse gravel with metallic clay. She stops. Knees hitting the ground, she pulls at her ribcage. First she becomes aware of the pressure on her thumbs as they grip skin and bone. Then that pain is nothing. The sound of skin peeling sends white noise crackling into reverb around her and when it stops she holds two ribs in her hands. An un-stringed cello, she buries them in the ground. Piled over bone, the slow erosion of hot rock here blends with soot, marbling and intertwining body with earth. The first death will be here. Fire the reward of the wrongdoer. Volcanic ash and hot sand carried the stench of carrion as brother buried brother out of sight. This palpable toil. The men warred so quickly yet with so much fire that their bodies were swallowed in dirt before they ever had the chance to make surrendering moves. The walking prayer. When making something level again is no longer a crime, then she will come. Balance hums into being. Her fingers are like wings that drag along the floor as she walks and her hair gestures forwards sensing each step that she needs to take. Marking the area of this sin was all she has to do. She is here to give to an earth that is dead. Her lips part, lower lip hanging like a corpse’s dislocated jaw. Out from her mouth rolls a shard of flame that lingers at her feet before rippling with open arms over the dry hill, leaving nothing but green behind.
We hope you enjoyed those extracts and that it demonstrates what we intend to do with †3Dark. If you did enjoy them, please help us make this project come alive by offering a back or telling your friends about us:
We have TONS of incredible rewards to offer you, but more than that, you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are a true patron of the arts, have supported the work of aspiring authors, and are making a vision live.
Please note: Our incentive offer is still valid: if you can get a friend to back this campaign and then confirm it to our Facebook page, Twitter, or in the comments section of this KS, we will send you a FREE eBook from Dark Prophets Press!
Well, that’s enough from me. I hope you enjoyed reading this fine work. Onwards and upwards †3Dark.
Until next time!
Project Lead, †3Dark
I’m not going to tell you the plot of SICK III, but I will tell you that this book is much more than a story about a very sick man. It’s about facing your demons and getting to know them. It’s about accepting your most depraved thoughts and urges. It’s about being courageous enough to live with yourself despite them. It’s about loving someone even if the world would condemn you.
Above all, it’s about living in the truth, no matter how frightening it is.
Get SICK Part III for 1/2 price
when you pre-order
till release day on 4/17
Meet STORGY – Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, and Ross Jeffery
An orgy of stories, that is what STORGY Magazine is all about – a writhing pile of lithe, literary works and brazen art. You may have read my interview on STORGY a couple months ago. Guess who else was interviewed by STORGY. Chuck Palahniuk. Yep. That guy who wrote Fight Club (bringing me a tantalizing degree closer to a literary hero). You also may have seen my post about STORGY’s massive #EXITEARTH contest, and like me, wondered who are the orchestrators of this bacchanalian display of exceptional prose?
I asked the STORGY chaps to satisfy our curiosity about the mysterious beginnings of the literary magazine and what the team plans for the future. Trust me, this interview is even more interesting than it already sounds.
So, I think what everyone might first want to know is how you came up with the name Storgy and how does it express what you do?
Tony: Years ago when Tamagotchi’s were still a thing and a child could be entertained by asking it to use an imagination and play outside rather than thrust an iPad in front of its sweaty face, Tomek and I wanted to keep our writing skills relatively blunt (sharp is far too generous) so we came up with an idea to pitch each other story titles that we would write one thousand words for, read each other’s work and titter like pre-pubescent boys that had just seen a picture of a naked Abi Titmuss in the copy of the local Daily Star; from there we went on social media and asked people to pitch us titles and we thought we would need a name for this ludicrous endeavour so we thought of STORY and ORGY and put our hands together. Tomek had raspberry jam in one hand and some dog poo in the other, so the end result of his clap did not impress the startled cat he was trying to fellate at the time.
Tomek: Our goal was to devise a method through which to hone our writing skills, and as time moved on, we were fortunate to meet like-minded people who shared our passion for the short story and came on board. A lot of thanks goes out to these early contributors, without whom STORGY would not have flourished into what it is today. What we try to do is provide lovers of short fiction and film with a platform on which to publish their words and gain exposure. STORGY would not exist were it not for the dedication of all our authors and whilst there remains much for us to explore and many possibilities for expansion, we thank everyone who continuous to support us.
Storgy was founded in 2013. Since then, the magazine and its team have grown. In four years of publishing, what challenges has the magazine faced along the way?
Tony: Personally for me, it was the push of getting a story done on time, the self-doubt of it being any good – that nagging voice at the back of the mind that turns into a harpy witch, screaming at you that ‘you’re not good enough, you’ll never amount to anything, why are you crying?’ whilst clawing at your face with its curled, gnawed talons…that can be bit of a bastard. I look back at some of my own work and shudder at its sheer failings from a technical standpoint. As we grew though, we realised that other people were starting to get involved and sent us their own work. In its infancy stages, we had a core group of contributors and that gave us time to regulate and shuffle stories around, so that helped. We’ve just launched a YouTube channel and I’m trying to get things scheduled in for that, so the Harpy witch has evolved into a digital menace…
Ross: I came on board in 2016 to help head up STORGY’s social media and soon became head of our literary reviews. I’ve known Tony and Tomek for years even sharing a house with Tony at one point (what that man can’t make with a can of Mushy Peas and pasta isn’t worth eating). Secretly I was hoping that they would ask me to join this project and what do you know…they did. So as well as all the stuff Tony has spoken about above, Harpy Witches, Abi Titmuss and Tamagotchi’s, we also work with various publishers from huge organisations such as Bloomsbury and Penguin Random House, in addition to small Independent publishers such as SALT Publishing and Dodo Ink to name just a few. The guys (Tomek and Tony) have done a sterling job with a shoestring staff team – literally the two of them. So over the last year we have experienced expediential growth and the have taken a few more staff on – as well as expanding our reviewing team to keep up with demand from those publishers and authors that want to work with us.
Tomek: The greatest challenge was maintaining our motivation. A little over a year ago myself and Tony experienced a particularly trying period during which we questioned the existence of STORGY. During this dark time we were very close to shutting up shop. A desire to focus on our own writing and the complexities of juggling full time employment and matters of the heart drove us to the edge of insanity, but then Ross appeared and allayed our anxieties. Since then we have not looked back. The team has continued to grow and STORGY has gone from strength to strength. I am heavily indebted to Tony and Ross for all their hard work; the unsung heroes of STORGY without whom this ship would never sail.
Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk, said that STORGY is helping to ‘keep the short story alive.’ Do you think the short story form was dying, or at least in need of some fresh blood?
Tony: I think it’s fair to say that people enjoy reading a collection of short stories from their favourite author, or a novel by said favourite author, rather than take a risk and sample an anthology from writers they may not of heard of. I enjoy sci-fi and horror, so I regularly get a bumper anthology collection from loads of different authors. It helps you understand different style and prose, whilst opening your mind to different perspectives. Do you find duds sometimes? Of course you do. But that’s the nature of the beast. With publishers and distributors now using click-bait techniques to sell their authors, sometimes the little guy can be left out in the snowy plateau, shivering cold in the wind. We want to bring that little guy in from the cold and give him his shot. And possibly some Jaffa Cakes.
Ross: I must agree with Tony on this point, it’s not that the short story genre is in danger, it just needs to be jump started occasionally. The other day I walked into Waterstones (book shop) and spent a good proportion of my time trying to locate where in the shop the short story anthologies were. After tracking down a member of staff they showed me the smallest collection of books at the start of fiction; in the United Kingdom it’s just not seen as its own entity – the selection of books didn’t even have a sign. The last year I’ve read and reviewed some fabulous anthologies, so it’s not through the lack of talent…It’s just finding a collection in a book shop is a fricking hard task!
Tomek: The short story is a form that will never die. There are millions of readers across the world who enjoy reading short stories, and millions of authors who strive to write them. The difficulty is connecting the two. Unfortunately, short story collections do not sell as well as novels, for reasons which mystify me. In an era when time is in such short supply, a short story is the perfect antidote, but it doesn’t quite work like that. Not yet, anyway. I feel that there is much scope for innovation in the manner in which literature – and short fiction in particular – is presented and shared with readers. The digital age in which we live has the potential to empower the short story and ensure it not only survives, but thrives. Of course, there is much work to be done, but for the small part STORGY can play in keeping the form alive, the challenge is one we willingly accept.
My personal experience working with Storgy was the greatest pleasure. You roll out the red carpet for your writers and interviewees, treating artists and the craft of writing with great respect. How do you discover new writers to feature? And what is it you’re looking for when you’re vetting them?
Tony: Thank you for saying so. In all honesty, the writers have found us. We’ve always said from the start that STORGY is a platform for writers to express stories that they may not be able to showcase elsewhere. Using the old adage of ‘Give a man a fish and he can feed himself for a day, but give him the tools and he can fish for himself for a lifetime,’ we’ve simply said, ‘Your story is really good. We want to publish this so you’ll gain the recognition you deserve and write more.’ We’re looking for originality; we’re looking for great stories – sure. But we’re also fans. We also love reading truly engaging short stories that speak to us in a myriad of different ways. We’ve had some magnificent stories that we’ve had to decline because it lacked…something. But hopefully that writer will get angry or say to themselves, ‘Yep, you know what…in my heart it wasn’t good enough,’ and they’ll push themselves to write an even better short. One that we’ll gladly publish.
Ross: Thanks Christa that’s great of you to say. I think that one of our biggest assets is that we are all insanely passionate about literature, I also feel that because we are such an intimate set up that when we work with authors on projects they get the sense that we really care and they get the attention to detail that I find is quite often missing in the larger organisations. I again agree with Tony (this is like the most I’ve ever agreed with Tony – I better watch what he puts in my drink later) what with authors finding us; we offer a platform and really appreciate talented writers choosing to showcase their work through STORGY Magazine. But part of my job as head of books is to find existing talent, whether that is through independent publishing or reading a wide range of books, or even through listening to other authors and what they are currently reading – we’ve also a fantastic well read team here at STORGY and often recommend new writers to each other on a weekly basis.
Tomek: Thank you for your kind words. It’s nice to know that working with us is an enjoyable experience. The discovery of new writing occurs in many ways, all of which are the result of our passion for literature. STORGY is placed in a rather unique position within the industry, whereby we can act as an explorer of new and undiscovered talent and an agent of published authors. The discovery of new writing, whether it be a STORGY submission or a published anthology, never ceases to excite us. It is an honor to read the writing we receive and we feel immensely privileged to be in a position to share our discoveries. There remains a great deal of writing to which we are not yet exposed, but the wider we cast our net, the greater the words we catch. In terms of submissions, we have an experienced and talented team of editors, however, our decisions are entirely subjective and I would encourage writers who are not chosen for publication in STORGY to submit their work to other magazines. The debate about what makes a good short story is a complex one, and whilst there are numerous aspects which influence our decision, the most important is our enjoyment of a specific piece, irrespective of form or content or style or genre. Ultimately, there is only way to find out; submit.
You also hold yearly writing competitions. Your latest awards a £1000 grand prize and will be judged by Diane Cook, former producer This American Life and of author of Man V. Nature. This competition is open-genre and based on the theme Exit Earth. Why did you choose this theme?
Tony: I think we can safely say that last year was a complete wash out. Brexit. Terrorist shootings. Countless iconic celebrity deaths. Politics going bananas. It all seemed like a weird Twilight Zone episode where we were living in a parallel universe, but there didn’t seem to be any ending…whether the protagonist found it safely back home or not. I think a lot of people felt powerless last year, so we’ve decided to give them the opportunity to fight back using their words. The competition doesn’t need to have a dystopian theme; it can be about anything – a mother and daughter reconnecting, a superhero down on his luck, a morbid tale of a spooky house, the possibilities are endless…
Ross: That’s all above my pay grade…over to Tomek!
Tomek: For the first time we decided to focus on a specific theme for our annual short story competition, and following in depth discussions we settled on ‘Exit Earth’. This was partly due to our interest in the current state of global politics and how it impacts – or will impact – the future of mankind, but also our desire to work with Diane Cook. Man vs. Nature was one of our favorite books of recent years and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put the two together. Whilst we are avid readers of dystopian fiction, we remain hopeful that entries will explore the limitless possibilities of this year’s theme. I must stress again, that this is not a genre focused theme and we encourage and welcome short stories of all genres. Our mission has always been to discover great short stories and a theme based approach to this year’s competition will provide an interesting way of inspiring new fiction. We are immensely excited about the competition and hope it proves to be an enjoyable experience for writers, and readers, too.
Who are the favorite big-name authors among the staff? Who are some authors you’d love to publish on Storgy?
Tony: George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy, Jonas Jonasson, David Moody, Will Self, Neil Gaimon…the list could go on and on…
Ross: Chuck Palahniuk (he remains the reason I write to this day), Hunter S Thompson, HG Wells, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Hubert Selby Jr, Philip K Dick, James Herbert, Richar Thomas, James Frey, Peter Benchley – Some writers that blew me out of the water last year included Carys Bray, Ali Shaw, Adam O’Riordan, Roisin O’Donnell, Oisin Fagan and recommended from Tomek was Callan Wink (very grateful for that one). And some to keep your eyes out for in 2017 and beyond Joseph Sale, Jess Bonder and Daniel Soule – all creating some brilliant work in the independent realm, it’s only a matter of time for these guys.
Tomek: All the writing in STORGY is special to me. We wouldn’t exist were it not for the passion and perseverance of our authors, all of whom I hope gain wider acclaim. I can’t name individuals because one day we hope to publish them in print. In terms of authors I would love to see in STORGY, to name only a few: Jodi Angel, Ann Beattie, Amie Bender, Lucia Berlin, Jason Brown, Judy Budnitz, Diane Cook, Charles D’Ambrosio, Debra Dean, Junot Diaz, Tom Franklin, Rivka Galchen, David Guterson, Adam Haslett, Tama Janowitz, Dana Johnson, Miranda July, Richard Lange, Sam Lipsyte, Chris Offutt, ZZ Packer, Susan Perabo, Benjamin Percy, Thomas Pierce, David James Poissant, Donald Ray Pollock, Eric Puchner, George Saunders, Jess Walter, Caire Vaye Watkins, Apil Wilder, D W Wilson, Callan Wink, Tim Winton, and many may more. If you don’t know them, buy their books. If you do know them, scream STORGY!
What kind of readers would enjoy Storgy Magazine?
Tony: The thing about STORGY is its diversity. We’ve had short stories ranging from broken spirits to uplifting tales about the human condition. We’ve had sci-fi, horror, romance, drama to stories written from the perspective of children. It really caters to all. Now we have a YouTube channel (submit storgy) and we can reach out in a media capacity.
Ross: If you’ve got two eyes and can read then STORGY is for you. We publish such an eclectic mix of content each week that there is always something for you to read, we pride ourselves on this to ensure that our readership keep coming back as content changes so much with each passing week.
Tomek: We take great pride in the diversity of short stories we feature and hopefully one day soon we will be in a position to publish new and experienced authors. We will continue to publish short stories that excite and inspire us and hope that readers enjoy them too.
What might writers gain from being published in Storgy Magazine?
Tony: They’ll have a platform to showcase their short story/essay/article, they’ll be able to join a network of like-minded individuals and communicate via Twitter and FaceBook amongst a host of talented artists and writers. They’ll be able to strengthen their own style and pick up skills from other writers. In short, they’ll gain a whole wealth of knowledge from the STORGY empire.
Ross: A dedicated team who are not out to make a name for themselves, if it comes with the work we do that’s fantastic, but our purpose is to promote the artist; give them a platform and dedicate our efforts in helping them get their work out there!
Tomek: They’ll join a thriving community of creators and become part of the history of STORGY, each writer playing an important role in safeguarding the future of the short story.
Storgy has two anthologies out. Will you continue to publish anthologies?
Tony: As long as we’re still breathing, we’ll still do anthologies!
Ross: ‘Keeping the Short Story Alive’ Chuck Palahniuk – how could we stop!
Tomek: Even if Tony does stop breathing.
What goals does Storgy Magazine have for the future?
Tony: I could tell you, but then I’d have to smear Nutella all over your body and release the birds…
Ross: I could tell you, but they don’t even tell me, I just turn up and work my fingers to the bone, it’s the only way they’ll let me see my family again. If you’re reading this then it’s too late for me!
Tomek: Ross, back to the basement. Tony, I’m waiting…
Thanks to Tomek, Tony, and Ross.
Everything you need to connect
with STORGY is below.
#EXITEARTH WRITING COMPETITION
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in.
But don’t despair.
Pick up your pen.
Bulldoze the borders.
The STORGY Short Story Competition is here! We need you!
SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO STORGY
STORGY welcomes unsolicited submissions from published and unpublished authors. We are looking for literary short fiction, particularly short stories which challenge literary conventions and experiment with genre, style, form and content. We consider all genres and welcome all submissions. We want writing which forces the reader to face the reality in which we live, or the illusions in which we hide. We want soul, be it broken or bruised, or endless and almighty. We want to laugh, cry, cower, and applaud. Tell us, teach us, transform us.
STORGY also accepts essays, book reviews, movie reviews, art, and photography.
Check out Storgy Literary Magazine’s latest short story competition. Entries will be judged by Diane Cook, former producer NPR’s This American Life and of author of Man V. Nature. This competition is open-genre and based on the theme, Exit Earth. I’m sure many of you will have fun with this theme. The grand prize is £1000, so get to writing!
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in.
But don’t despair.
Pick up your pen.
Bulldoze the borders.
The STORGY Short Story Competition is here! We need you!
Storgy is a high-caliber literary site, lovingly edited by a staff of creatives who are passionate about art, film, and books. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be featured on Storgy among so many talented writers. I’m looking forward to having Storgy on the blog soon. In the meantime, check out my interview today and celebrate with a free copy of Sick (with its updated cover).
About Storgy Magazine
STORGY was founded in 2013 by Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self as a means by which to explore the short story form and engage with readers and artists alike. An online literary short story magazine consisting of a core group of dedicated writers, STORGY aims to inspire artistic collaboration and provide opportunities for creative minds to meet.
So Christa, thank you for having this interview with us, we were interested to learn that you used to tame lions and chase storms; how did this come about and why?
When I lived in Florida, I managed a private animal sanctuary that was open to the public. I took care of nearly a hundred animals. We had tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, lynx, primates, canines, bears, macaws, a camel, llamas, deer, a horse, a donkey, an otter, raccoons, and a wallaby. There were also snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, all the way down to scorpions and tarantulas.
The big cats were all fed by hand. I had to hack up eighty pounds of bloody horse meat each day for the carnivores. Then I’d chop up buckets of fruit and vegetables for the herbivores. We bred rats and mice to feed the snakes. There was lots of poop. Lots. It was a dirty, laborious, and dangerous job, but I loved each of those animals as if they were my own children.
A few years later, the animal sanctuary was forced to shut down because they were widening the highway in that area. That’s when I went to work with my dad at the power company. In 2004, we had a crazy series of hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. During emergencies, all the staff at the power company is called in for hurricane duty. This means you work about 16-20 hours a day in very dangerous conditions. My dad and I teamed up to go survey the power lines to see if there were any urgent situations and to tell the crews where the damage was. We also turned on some customers’ power while we were there. That was not protocol, but we did it anyway, and they were very grateful.
Your website says that you’re an Internet marketer which can be a full time job in itself, so when did you first discover your passion for writing? And how do you find the time with all the other things you seem to be doing?
I was a child when I first discovered my passion for writing, but I never committed to it until I moved to Panama. I couldn’t legally work here so I had a lot of free time and solitude. I decided to try writing a memoir about experiences I had in my new country. I’ll probably never publish it, but it broke the seal and helped me to realise that I had the ability to finish stories.
My job as an internet marketer came later. I used to just help family and friends with their websites and social media. It was a part-time gig for travel and Christmas money. Now it’s a full-time operation that continues to grow. I have had no time to write during the past six months and am a little grouchy because of that. You know what Kafka says about a non-writing writer, so I’m planning to turn my freelance operation into a firm and hire some people to join my team. I’m also in the process of developing some e-courses to generate passive income.
Your fiction, in particular the Sick series, demonstrates an incredibly subtle style of Horror-writing that arises from psychology and character. How did you come to develop this unique style?
This is a great question because I never consciously planned this story or the characters. I had a nightmare about this pale, sick man covered in bruises. I think he had a broken leg. I was his wife–not myself, but another woman entirely. The bedroom was disheveled and dirty. The scene was repulsive to all five senses, but the most frightening part about it was the way this woman I inhabited felt. Her husband was obviously very, very ill and yet he exuded this powerful menace. The uneasy feeling of the dream stuck with me, and after some months I decided to purge it by writing it as a story.
The psychological aspects of your writing are one of its greatest strengths. Where did your fascination with the human mind arise? Can you name a key event or moment in your life that triggered your interest and desire to explore further?
I’ve always rooted for the deranged characters in books and movies. I’m drawn to the troubled souls and insane villains, but I know I’m not alone in this. Everyone loves a good pyscho or they wouldn’t be so popular.
Some of my family members have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. I, too, went through times in my life where I felt like I might lose my mind (I’m really not quite sure if I haven’t). I’m mystified by how thoughts and emotions can break your sanity. Sure, some brain diseases can be seen in a scan, but most mental illness is in the intangible. You can look at the brain and it will be physiologically sound, but the person is incapable of functioning. It’s this invisible entity that is damaged. How does that happen? How does this ethereal organ break?
What makes it even more interesting is that the mind can repair itself through words. Therapy or writing can fix mental illness–words, which are nothing but a sound vibration. They are ink marks on paper. They’re black pixels on this screen, and they have the potential to destroy and heal. It’s all very spooky when you think about it.
Do you have what it takes to sum up a story and hook a reader in ONE LINE? Check out Shonda Brock’s latest writing contest for a chance to win $50 and publicity on her platform.
I know my blog has sucked lately. You’re all very nice about it, but it’s true. And the third part of SICK is two months past my planned publication date. No writing, no revising, no blogging. The reason why I’m so busy is problem I’m very blessed to have. I have more work than I can handle, and more and more comes my way everyday.
Five years ago I started freelancing in web design and social media marketing. What began as a part time gig for extra Christmas money has now developed into a full-grown business. I am bursting at the seams and it’s time to get some help, so I’m thrilled to announce that my sister Gina has begun training as my first digital marketing protege!
I’m so grateful to have her help and I know everyone will love working with her. 2016 is galloping away and I have so many great plans for the future. I’m so glad I have someone on my team, especially my sister. Next in line for training is my baby sister, Tia. Then we’ll have the sister trifecta. Look out!
Not only am I training my sisters how to work and thrive in this creative and free lifestyle, I’m going to teach anyone who wants to learn. The demand for content management and social media marketing is exploding, and I’m developing a digital marketing course that covers all facets in an easily digestible format. You can learn more about the course and sign up for an invitation to the FREE beta-version here.
I’m also creating a course specifically for authors that includes my hacks and secrets to managing effective social media strategy without it consuming your writing time. You can get early access to that by signing up for Digital Marketing Mastery for Authors.
Last but not least, SICK Part III will be going out to my beta-reading crew next month (I hope) and then to my wonderful editor, Candace at Change it Up Editing. I even have plans to unearth my drafts of The Sculptor Series for release, and I’m itching to start blogging regularly again.
Thanks so much for staying subscribed to this blog through the thick and thin. There’s lots to come next year, so stay tuned! XOXOXO
This will cure your case of the Mondays. Beastie Boys and Q-tip like cheese and macaroni.