The Living Room Express

My most recent story “The Living Room Express” is available to read for free on the Metaworker. Please check it out.

Fair warning: This is a dark story. Perhaps the darkest I’ve written yet. It contains themes of alcoholism and parental abuse.

While I typically write fiction, I most often read non-fiction. I’m particularly drawn to memoirs about people who have lived through difficult life experiences such as abuse and addiction. I tried my best to channel the voice of those brave writers in this piece.

Another interesting thing about this story is that much of it is written in the 2nd person (“you” pronouns). This is a literary technique that seems to have become more popular in the recent years and one I was eager to try.

This story seemed to catch the eye of many editors, including of some top end magazines, who held the story for quite some time before ultimately passing. My guess is that a story featuring such rampant child abuse was a tough sell for fiction. Fair enough.

Fortunately, the team at the Metaworker was willing to take a chance on such a dark story. Their bio explained they are millennials and so they are willing to take chances on pieces that might horrify others as long as there is a purpose to the darkness. I’m glad they found the glimmers of purpose in such a depressing world.

Caged Potential

Please check out my latest story “Caged Potential” available in the latest issue of Utopia Science Fiction. My story is available for free as part of the preview, but I hope you will purchase the entire issue for the great content from the many different contributors.

A special thank you to Tristan Evarts, editor-in-chief, for overseeing this great publication that strives to share uplifting sci-fi stories, while paying their contributors and responding personally to all submissions.

As well, I want to thank Leon Perniciaro, the fiction editor, who provided detailed feedback to help bring my story to another level. Without his keen editorial eye, this story would have a weaker title, poorer flow, and less precise word choices. I can’t thank him enough for his help and suggestions.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this story. Let me know what you think of the world I created and of the different characters.

If sci-fi isn’t your thing, I have a dark literary piece set to drop later this week in the Metaworker. Stay tuned and thank you as always for reading!

The Loophole

My latest story “The Loophole” is now available in issue 25 of the Nonbinary Review. Special thanks to the editors for making the process so easy and for paying their contributors a generous rate.

Issue 25 was prohibition themed and so all of the stories, poems and art had to do with abstinence from alcohol. I am beyond impressed with the works chosen for this edition. The art is bold, the poetry inventive, and the stories immersive. I hope you will purchase an issue and support this publication. I’m honoured to be included with such talented creators.

The Loophole deviates from my other stories in that it’s broken down into short scenes. In 2,500 words, I weave together a coming of age story, in which loyalty, family and corruption are at the forefront. Astute readers may capture the nod to Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America.”

I enjoyed the challenge of writing a story set nearly 100 years ago. A friend told me that each of my stories is different, that it’s hard to tell that they’re written by the same writer. To me, that’s the greatest compliment an author can get.

As always, please share your thoughts. And thank you for following.

The Arbitrator 4000

My story The Arbitrator 4000 has been published in Metastellar. What an honour to be published in one of the top sci-fi magazines on the market. Thank you to editor Marie Ginga for making the process so easy.

The Arbitrator 4000 originally appeared in my self-published collection of stories “The Human Experience” and was instantly one of the most popular stories in the collection, balancing science-fiction with a touch of humour.

Following an editor’s advice, I removed the first few paragraphs from the original draft in order to get to the heart of the story quicker. I think this small change has made a big difference.

This story foretells a world in which the accused are tried by emotionless machines. Other jobs such as investigators and solicitors have also fallen under robotic control.

Does this deference to machines bode well for humanity or does it strip the ability to consider human factors when making judgments? As with lots of sci-fi, this story aims to raise as many questions as it answers. As always, I’d love to know what you think.

A Life in Numbers

My latest story A Life in Numbers is available in Door is A Jar’s 19th edition in digital or print formats. Thank you to editor Maxwell Bauman for compiling this group of 40 bite-sized stories and poems from contributors worldwide. I look forward to reading through them shortly.

I was drawn to Door is A Jar in part because of their maxim that work should be accessible, using familiar language that can be understood by all readers. Too many publications confuse complexity with good writing and engaging stories.

I used a framing device to structure this story, with each paragraph preceded by a short statement comprised of a number. This format carries throughout the piece, as we learn more about the unnamed narrator’s difficult relationship with their controlling father.

Many of my stories were rejected multiple times before finding a home, but A Life in Numbers was accepted by the first magazine I sent it to. Maybe this means my writing is improving or maybe I’m doing a better job at matching story to publication. Or perhaps it was just good fortune. Either way, I’m happy to have placed this piece and looking forward to sharing more writing in the future.

The Hare in the Dish

My latest story The Hare in the Dish is available to read for free in the Blue Lake Review. Thank you to editor Mitchell Waldman for accepting me into this prestigious literary publication.

Many of my recent stories have been flash fiction (<1000 words), so I’m excited to share this longer story, which runs just shy of 4,000 words. My initial draft of this story was about half as long but after receiving feedback that the story felt unfinished, I kept working on it until I reached a more natural conclusion.

In many ways this story differs from my typical work, in that it’s best classified as a suspense or mystery, genres I don’t usually attempt (although perhaps I should). Further, the story is set in the world of high dining, which is certainly not somewhere I find myself. I don’t eat out often, but when I do I prefer somewhere more laid back (not fast food mind you, but also not a place where the server would pull out your chair).

In other senses, you’ll find much of my typical writing style in this story. There are tense family dynamics, a bad pun (the lead character’s name, no less) and a character who needs to ease up on the liquor.

I’m always interested in hearing what people think about my stories and the magazines they’re published in. Please leave a comment or send me an email with any feedback, good or bad. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you’ll be notified every time I make a new post. Happy long weekend to those here in Canada.

The Floor is Made of Lava

Check out my latest story, The Floor is Made of Lava, published by Close to the Bone, a UK imprint that focuses on crime fiction. A big thank you to editor Craig Douglas, who was easy and enjoyable to work with.

The Floor is Made of Lava tells the story of a fictional drug called magma that burns users from the inside out. It was a fun challenge as a writer to imagine a new drug, determine how it would work, figure out what the side effects would be, etc.

This story began while visiting friends in Vancouver. On my last day in the city, the friend I was staying with had to spend the morning in his office. As he worked, I sat in a coffee shop planning my entry for the NYC midnight writing contest I had entered that was due later that week.

Downtown Vancouver has a problem with drugs and homelessness, and as I was considering the contest prompts, the idea for the story took place. It’s devastating to see all the lost souls in a beautiful city like Vancouver. The night before we had seen a show in an old firehouse and across the street was a large, partially flooded, tent city. The living conditions were horrid and people were walking around in a daze.

The disconnect between such wealth and poverty is hard to fathom. The war on drugs has failed and we need to treat addiction like the health problem it is. This story goes out to everyone who has struggled with drugs or to those who have lost friends and family to addiction. Be well and stay safe.

Tiger’s Nuts

My latest story Tiger’s Nuts is now available to read on Fiction on the Web. Working with editor Charlie Fish was easy. He was quick to respond to my submission and enthusiastic about the story.

I appreciate Fiction on the Web for their engaged community of readers, frequent stories (twice a week), and lengthy publishing history (their website states they’ve been posting fiction since 1996 making it the oldest continuous online short story venue, having posted thousands of stories to millions of readers).

Tiger’s Nuts doesn’t hold back. I remember one reader telling me that if anyone says it’s too vulgar then they haven’t read Naked Lunch, the novel that the characters discuss in their monthly book club. Channeling the madness of Burroughs’ source material was fun and in a way rather freeing.

Amongst the madness, you’ll meet a group of high school friends trying to stay connected despite life taking them in different directions. These are not the sort of characters you might expect to hold a book club (particularly the incorrigible Tiger who eschews social etiquette and lives, quite literally, in a ‘balls to the wall’ fashion), but this disconnect only adds to the fun.

I tried to keep readers unaware as to what was coming next, punctuating the story with a moment that will not soon be forgotten. If I don’t leave you wanting a hot shower and a course of antibiotics after having read this story, then I haven’t done my job.

Representing Canada

It was such an honour to represent Canada in the virtual Can-Am Scrabble matchup this past weekend!

I had originally applied to play in the live version of the event to be held in Montreal, but I was the sixth qualifier for only five spots and so I had just missed the cut.

Fortunately for me, when COVID made the live event impossible, it was moved online and two people dropped out, thus opening up a spot for me to compete.

Somehow, even though I was at risk of not qualifying, I managed to be the highest placing Canadian in my division, finishing in 5th place with a record of 7-8.

Unfortunately, the stacked American team crushed Canada en route to victory. Congrats to them on a job well done.

I played three games against each of my five American counterparts. Surprisingly, I went 2-1 against the top 2 seeds (including a former world champion!) and 1-2 against the 3rd-5th seeds. Scrabble is funny like that!

I had a fun time competing in these tournaments these past two weekends, but at the same time they’ve been rather draining. Time to wind down and give the old brain some time to recharge.

Scrabble Victory

This past weekend I competed in what was billed as the largest Scrabble tournament of the decade. It was also the biggest Scrabble tournament I’m aware of that’s ever been held online (92 entrants from 11 countries), as online play only really took off since COVID.

Despite a very competitive field, I managed to go 11-2 +1311 to win the top NWL division of 36 players! I am beyond excited about this result. It’s my first two-day tournament win, and I managed to clinch victory with one round remaining.

This was a big turnaround from my first Scrabble tournament of the year in which I went 0-5 -775, finishing in last place in the top division.

This dichotomy is Scrabble in a nutshell. One day you draw good tiles and win, the next you draw poorly and lose. It’s important to stay focused on improvement over the long term as any individual tournament can be biased by the sample size.

Next up I will compete for Canada in the Can-Am tournament. Will be an honour to represent my country for the first time, win or lose. I will try and focus on remaining calm and making good decisions and letting the tiles fall where they may.