Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Too Many Works In Progress!

Having ADD, I find it impossible to work on one story at a time and many times I'll be working on a tale when another one will come to mind and I have to start work on it as well. What follows is a comprehensive list of my WIPs followed by a short description.

The ones that are bolded (there are ten of them) are the ones I am genuinely committed to complete. The others will be put on a Maybe Someday pile:

  1. Chaos carolinensis (Monster horror pulp)
  2. Dinker (Children’s fantasy)
  3. Doc John Foster (Space opera) 
  4. Doll Wars (Braided novel of dark fantasy romance) 
  5. Elysia House (Magical house fantasy) 
  6. Fandom Weirdness (Horror satire) 
  7. Greengate (Novelization of Greengate short story: Dark fantasy) 
  8. Healing For the Damaged Soul (nonfiction-self help) 
  9. Home Invasion (Cthulhu mythos horror) 
  10. In Search of the Creators (Anthropomorphic SF) 
  11. Jill Noir (Braided novel of anthropomorphic SF) 
  12. Lady Of Obivion (Dreamlands dark fantasy) 
  13. Leida and the Swan (fantasy romance) 
  14. Llanganati (Pulp adventure) 
  15. Lord Of All Futures (Post-apocalyptic dystopia) 
  16. Lynx Syndrome (Anthropomorphic SF) 
  17. Mirthstone Hall (Magical house fantasy) 
  18. One Man (SF) 
  19. ORCS (Adventure horror) 
  20. Paladin (Super hero) 
  21. Proteus (Anthropomorphic SF) 
  22. Rabbits In Space (Anthropomorphic SF) 
  23. Shattered Horn (Anthropomorphic SF)
  24. Silvanus House (Magical house fantasy)
  25. Sister Unicorn (Anthropomorphic fantasy)
  26. Slenderman (Horror)
  27. Spiegelhaus (Magical house fantasy)
  28. Steampunk Fragment (Steampunk)
  29. Sump Hole (Horror)
  30. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (rewrite of Lovecraft's masterpiece: Dark fantasy)
  31. The Fractured World (Anthropomorphic SF)
  32. The Tree (SF)
  33. Universal Girl (SF)
  34. William Glacken (Cthulhu mythos horror)
  35. Yew Manor (Novelization of Yew Manor short story: Magical house fantasy)
  36. Yggdrasil (Anthropomorphic SF)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Want to Hear a Public Reading of the Shrine War?

(I was too premature in posting my schedule for Capclave 2016 so the post has been removed. However, the following is fairly certain.)
On Friday, October 7th, 2016 at Capclave 2016 (Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg,
620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877) I will be reading as much of The Shrine War as 25 minutes will allow. Being a professional public speaker and former stage actor, I promise a good reading. The reading will start at 5:00 PM.

Admission to Capclave is mandatory and you can get all the pertinent information at their website here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Shrine War Gets Some Good News

When you submit a short story to an anthology, the editor puts in in one of four categories.
  1. The rejected pile are those stories that do not stand a chance to be considered. It does not necessarily mean the writing is bad. It could also mean the story's theme or subject matter is not in harmony with the theme or subject matter of the anthology.
  2. The slush pile are those stories that are passable, but will only be considered if additional stories are needed to pad out the anthology. Have you ever read an anthology and came across a story that seemed an odd fit and you wondered how in the world it got in there? It was probably padding from the slush pile.
  3. The finalist pile is proof that your story was well received and fits the theme and subject matter of the anthology, but the editor is holding out  for a final acceptance just in case a better story comes along.
  4. The accepted pile is just that. Stories that will certainly be going into the anthology and a check is forthcoming.
Editor Fred Patten sent me an email informing me that The Shrine War is on the finalist pile and I am very content.

Wish me luck. I probably will find out mid-November if my labor of love gets moved to the accepted pile or the rejected pile. Either way, it was a great story to write and I don't regret an iota the time and research I put into the tale,

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Shrine War Is Done

It took me three months and 24 days (or 116 days total) to finally complete the last draft of The Shrine War.

I am sitting in a hotel room at a Days Inn at Middleboro, Massachusetts and I'm taking a day off from sightseeing specifically to wrap up the conflict between Sen and her kitsune sisters and Akumu and her marauding band of Inugami.

Great liberties were taken with Japanese Shinto mythology, but it was a lot of fun. It has been sent off to Fred Patten for consideration for his Dogs of War anthology, but even if he deems it not appropriate for the collection, it does not negate the great feeling of satisfaction I have in putting the words, The End, on a Loewen-crafted tale.

The total word count came to 17,770 words.

Friday, September 9, 2016

From My Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list? I have a bucket list.

One item on my bucket list is to attend a Baltimore Orioles game when they are playing the Detroit Tigers. At the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied 7-7.

As the game commences, a man sitting three rows below me and one who has been acting ill throughout the game suddenly keels over and arises as Patient Zero of the zombie apocalypse.

As the carnage and violence erupts all around me, Orioles pitcher, Kevin Gausman, oblivious to the rampage in the stands, throws a curve ball to Miguel Cabrera who catches the ball right on the sweet spot of the bat.

As the ball soars through the air and into the stands, as I face off against a zombie, the ball strikes it squarely in the temple, dropping it like a stone. The ball bounces right into my hands and there, amidst the havoc, I stand on the Big Screen holding aloft the winning ball with my arms held in a V for victory.

At his home, George Romero, watching the game, begins to weep in naked jealousy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Of Lucid Dreamscapes and Cat Wives

Artist: Kishibe
As I have stated before, I have always been a vivid dreamer and now that I take a Vitamin B Complex capsule before bed, my dreams have become even more so. Something about the combination of the various vitamins in the B family trigger vivid dreams and any of these dreams have become a seedbed for future stories. However, I advocate caution. Dreamscapes are inherently boring for readers as the power and symbolism are highly subjective. To use a dream as an idea for a tale is to invite massive revision with heavy emphasis on plot and character. Very few writers can communicate the visceral punch of a dream as the dreamer experienced it.

Last night I had a rare lucid dream where for the first opening scenes, I actually knew I was dreaming.

It was a dream city I had visited many times before. The street I knew the best contained a number of quaint shops, bistros, and bed and breakfasts, delightful destinations for a nocturnal wanderer, but I had not revisited this locale in many years. I was well aware that I was dreaming and the certainty of my destination and the joy of seeing again a place where I had idled away many a night brought me both joy and fond memories.

The sun had set and a gentle snow had started to fall when I finally reached my destination. I looked forward to food and rest, but the landscape had changed over the years. The street was deserted, the shops were all closed, windows were dark and boarded up, and some buildings had actually been torn down. My sorrow at my loss became so great, at this point I lost the power of lucid dreaming and became trapped in the flow of the story unable to affect its outcome.

With great sadness, I turned and walked away from the deserted street, now determined to find some other form of shelter from the snowstorm. A pay phone must surely exist somewhere. A block away I found a public playground where children, bundled against the snow, were enjoying a final frolic before heading home for the night.

I approached one small child, a pretty little thing of around 12 years of age. Dressed all in white, she was shielded from the cold by a little white cap, a woolen dress that came to her knees, and warm white tights that protected her legs. Dainty white leather boots completed the picture.

She told me she did not know where a pay phone was, but instead she would introduce me to her parents who could certainly help me.

Her parents say nearby on a bench, her father nothing more than a typical stereotype of an English laborer: unimaginative, typically phlegmatic, and totally practical.

Her mother wore a close-fitting black cape with hood. However, she was an anthropomorphic cat, some five feet tall, her eyes a bright blue that complimented the brilliant white fur that made up the gentle feline face, the only part of her body visible.

I followed them to their home where the husband told me that I could use their phone and we walked a block or two making it to their front door as the snowfall increased in volume.

The house was in shambles. The foyer actually had drifting snow on the floor as well as snow coming through gaps in the ceiling, but the house proper was warm, cozy, and dry though a jumbled mess of bric-a-brac and worthless junk.

The husband discovered his old rotary phone was not operable and he instructed his wife to walk me down the block to the home of an acquaintance in hopes I could find a working phone there. That was when I noticed that at no time had the cat wife ever spoken, nor had she taken off her shawl. Even inside, she kept it on with the hood pulled tightly around her face.

We walked back into the ever-deepening snow. Taking her arm in mine, together we made it safely to their friends' house some blocks away. By this time, many of the row homes stood dark, but without even knocking, my silent companion opened the front door and led me inside to a home that was neat and tidy. It was immediately clear nobody was home and I was concerned that with the deepening snow we would be trapped for the night, unable to return to my companion’s residence. At that point I awoke leaving my furry companion behind for a more mundane waking world.

You might want to try my Vitamin B experiment for some nocturnal adventures of your own, but I make no guarantees as to the subject of your dreams. One's subconscious can be quite fickle in its affections.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Slender Man: An Excerpt From An Old Work

One of my favorite activities is participating in a tuckerization of my fiction, using real people as characters in my work. I want to thank Juan for allowing me to make him a character in one of the few actual horror stories I've ever written.

What follows is the prologue of a work that I have yet to complete, but I did enjoy writing it. The delightful challenge of writing about Slender Man was dampened when mentally ill children started committing crimes to appease this made up character. Also, the character of Slender Man, originally in the public domain, is now held in copyright by an unknown third party. I'm not going to invest time in a story I cannot publish for profit.

I shall probably rewrite the story, cleansing it of all Slender Man references and making up my own little beastie. Here is the opening prologue. Enjoy.

Slender Man
by Alan Loewen


“Subject: Juan Claude Simeoñ. Madison College isolation tank research, number 22. Mark time. Juan, how are you doing?”

Juan floated gently in the heavy, warm Epsom salt solution, his ear plugs making Gerald’s voice sound far away instead of coming from a tiny speaker just three inches above his head. “Doing okay,” he replied. He opened his eyes for a moment to the pitch blackness inside the chamber and then closed them again.

“Everything is working fine out here," Juan heard Gerald say. "Are you feeling the effects of the compound yet?”

Juan let out a breath. “No, not yet. I only took it twenty-five minutes ago. Let’s give it another five to kick in.”

“It’s your experiment. I’m switching my mike off. I’ve got a good level on yours.”

“Good.” Juan concentrated on his relaxation technique, deliberately relaxing the muscles in his feet and working up his body. Floating in the solution that had been warmed to body temperature, Juan enjoyed the sensation of floating. Though the tank was just big enough to hold him, in the blackness he felt like more like a mote floating in the center of an infinite universe.

“Mark time,” he said. “My skin is itching again.” He allowed himself to flow with the unpleasant sensation, a side-effect of his mind freeing itself from the world of the senses. “I suspect I’m a good ten to fifteen minutes away from theta brainwave conversion.”

He took a deep breath and slowly let it out, willing himself into a greater degree of relaxation. “I feel the new compound kicking in. A great calm. Itchiness is gone. Mark time. Here’s a new sensation. I’m gently falling.” Juan allowed the sensation to take him. “I’m seeing phosphenes now. Brilliant. More brilliant than I’ve ever experienced before, the most common being a shade of purple with flashes of red and green.”

He felt himself floating, falling between the cascading colors. “Pretty. They’re starting to take shape. Mark time. I suspect the compound is doing this. We might have finally reached the perfect mix.”

The colors swirled and congealed into a madman’s color palette. “Interesting. Mark time. I think I’m hallucinating. Maybe we increased the compound too much? These colors look solid. Weird angles. Reminds me of some of Lovecraft’s stories. What did he say? ‘Complex angles leading through invisible walls to other regions of Time-Space.’ I have to stop reading nonsense like that.”

Juan floated among the odd geometric shapes. “Wow. I never knew my mind could come up with what I’m seeing. Gerald, I hope you’re getting all this. I really don’t know if I’m talking out loud so my mike can pick it up.”

Gerald rolled his eyes as Juan continued his observations. As long as he got his weekly check, Gerald didn’t care what the psychology majors did with his time. He made a quick scan of the controls. The solution in which Juan floated kept its temperature constant and the chronometer marked off the minutes as they passed.

Stifling a yawn, he leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. Listening to some psych major ramble on about his hallucinations did not improve his already unpleasant mood.

“Mark time,” he heard through the speaker. Gerald leaned forward and pushed a button that would independently time stamp the recording.

Clean the tank. Punch buttons. Listen to some guy hallucinate. This is what a college degree did for him.

“Gerald? I really hope you can hear me. I … I can’t help but feel I’m not alone in here. Something out of the corner of my eye. I guess I should more accurately say ‘my field of vision.’”

The speaker stayed silent for a minute. “Mark time!” the speaker squawked, more urgently this time. “I saw something. The experience feels real. Something behind the weird angles.”

Gerald punched the time button again.

“Maybe if I look before my peripheral vision detects it. Hold on a minute.”

Suddenly, a scream burst out of the speaker, distorted by the volume of Juan’s terror. “No! Gerald! Get me out of here! No! Stay back! Get away from me!”

With an oath, Gerald jumped to his feet and reached for the hatch to the small isolation chamber.

It did not respond to his pull.

Juan’s screams continued as Gerald struggled with the door. Lacking any type of latch, it should have opened with little difficulty, but now Gerald felt as if he fought against all the weight of the world.

With a sudden pop, the hatch slammed open on its hinges and Gerald screamed.

Expecting to see Juan floating in a solution of brine, the interior of the small chamber opened up unexpectedly into a vast infinity of insane angles and odd geometries. His eyes and mind ached as he tried to take it in. He stumbled back, whimpering.

A shape emerged from the hatch. Impossibly thin and composed of a darkness that spoke more of a void than lack of color. Thin lines of darkness that hinted of obscenely long and thin arms reached for him.

Frozen in shock and terror, Gerald looked up at the ceiling where the head of the figure should have been.The last thing he ever saw as tendrils wrapped themselves around his neck was a featureless face that radiated a palpable evil.