Apocryphilia, the 6th anthology offered by we of the Circle 8 Writers Group, is now available in both paperback and ebook. With this anthology, we herald the debut of two new Circle 8 authors: Derek Odom, from whose short storyApocryphiliathe title of the complete anthology was given, and Mary Margaret McCurnin's short storyThe Anonymous Ophthalmologist is accented by three of her poems. And though all stories inApocryphiliaare wonderful tales of the supernatural,Native Moon, by LL Darroch, recieved theEditor's Award for Best Story.
We defineApocryphiliaas a person's Hell-bent drive toward self-destruction, which is so imaginatively portrayed in many of these stories.
Here is a peek under the covers of Apocryphilia at the authors and their works:
1)The Curse of Queen Milano, by Amy Browne:
Short (Paisley) story: A life-threatening curse has been puton Princess Paisley’s sister, Cadence, sending both princesses into the edge ofevil Queen Milano’s kingdom for a cure.
2)Welcome to the Garden of Eden, by Andi Caldwell:
Short story: Two detectives, Moira Kelly and Ted Baines,persue the mystery of dozens of missing couples through a sinister door thatleads to a recreated Garden of Eden. Is the garden fake or very real?
3)April Fools, by Andi Caldwell:
Flash fiction: A warrior battles a demon and its familiaruntil dinnertime.
4)Apocryphilia, by Derek Odom:
Short story: A man returns to his childhood home and thecreepy tree that wants him dead.
5)The Black Years, by Derek Odom:
Short story: A boy has one chance to escape his pedophileabductor, but it means leaving behind his love for the mystical unicorn thathelped him endure.
6)The Anonymous Ophthalmologist, by Mary Margaret McCurnin:
Short story: Annie is drawn to a personal ad in Craigslist,hoping it offers a path to escape the men of her past, living and dead.
7)Dead or Alive? by Robert L. Arend:
Short story: Michael is on the run after murdering anelderly woman for her purse, directed by a mysterious voice that only steershim into one mishap after another.
8)Twins, by Robert L. Arend:
Short story: Renee is an unemotional woman, unloved andunloving; an empty vessel for a soul who only wants to get the ‘life’ thingover with and reunite with the love she left behind on the day she was born.
9)Death Whispers, by Angel Sharum:
Short story: There’s a voice in Trevor’s head, telling himthat, when it comes to Momma, he’d be better off dead.
10)The Reaper, by Angel Sharum:
Flash fiction: Justbecause you're paranoid, doesn't mean you aren't being watched.
11)Mirror, Mirror, by Theresa Leschmann:
Short story: Alexis tires of waiting for the old man shemarried to die, so she decides to take matters into her own suddenly aginghands. But will she be able to look at herself in the mirror after?
12)Native Moon, by LL Darroch:
Short story: In her dream, herNative lover wanders the hot city night, watched closely by a wolf. She mustfly on the back of an eagle to save him.
13)Johnny’s Balloons, by Amy Browne:
Flash fiction: Little Johnny wants more balloons that talk onlyto him.
14)Turbatio, by LL Darroch:
Flash fiction: Imprisoned in acloset, a struggle to escape.
15)Worms, by Robert L. Arend:
Flash fiction: Hell is a cheap coffin that leaks.
Bloodless, by Angel Sharum: vampires lurk on darksidewalks...
Violent Love, by Angel Sharum: Divorce makes Daddyreally, really sad….
The Haunting, by LL Darroch: On a stormy night,terror pounds on the door….
Dark Blue Dirt, by Mary Margaret McCurnin: Dreams ofmausoleums….
Forget the Dead, by Mary Margaret McCurnin: Hands soiledby ashes of death….
Smoke,by Mary Margaret McCurnin: Pets better rememberedthan lovers….
And, as always, all Circle 8 anthologies can be purchased in paperback or ebook at:
RA: Please, don’t be so formal. Call me ‘The Robert’.
Fred: I will do no such thing. There are millions of Roberts in the world, Mr. Arend. You are not ‘The’ only one.
RA: I’m sorry you feel that way. You, however, think it’s perfectly all right to start off being ‘Ted’ and then switching to ‘Fred’.
Alex: In the latest Twin Trinity Media anthology Elements of Dimension you are listed as the writer of David and the Outside and Creation. Why only two?
RA: I got a poem in it, too.
Renee: Yes. Astral Voyeur. I want to explore that a bit later.
RA: Hey, first you flip from one name to another, now you change your sex. What’s next? Species?
Lizard: In David and the Outside, you present a scenario of a self-sufficient, controlled and seemingly underground society where no one is allowed to go outside. Was that story rooted in some personal experience?
Snake: Do you want to talk about it?
Tooth: I take it the event was too traumatic for you?
RA: How would you feel if you were kept inside every day having to learn reading, writing and math, even history!
Lady Gaga: Every child has to go through that, Mr. Arend. It’s called school.
RA: (tear streaming down his left cheek) Why me! Geography was the worse. All I wanted to do is run and play outside. Go fishing. Put frogs in my sister’s bed.
Elvis: Let’s move on. Your poem Astral Voyeur is about a lonely man whose spirit leaves his body to travel to the home of an old flame. He can see her, but she can’t see him. Is that a metaphor for all the unloved people society refuses to see?
RA: No. It’s about that creepy feeling when you think you’re being watched. You probably are, especially when you’re naked.
Naked Playmate: Is that how you feel when you’re in the shower, Mr. Arend
RA: Yes. That’s why I only shower when “American Idol” is on. I know nobody’s watching me then.
Harry Potter: Finally, in your short story, Creation, you posit that we write, produce, cast and direct everything in our lives from beyond the universe.
RA: Yes. We imagine everything, including ourselves.
Bill O’Reilly: Am I just a figure of your imagination, Mr. Arend?
RA: Of course.
Sarah Palin: Then why can’t you make me disappear, Mr. Arend?
RA: Oh, but I can. (blinks) You were never real in the first place.
After working the night shift, I had to deal with a few employee issues with Admin in my capacity as the president of my local AFSCME union. I finally got home sometime around 9:45. I turned the television on to catch the CNN news and, at first, thought I had TBS or TNT—some movie on instead of what gradually dawned on me was for real.
I sat quietly, drinking a cup of coffee, mesmerized, until the report of Flight 93 crashing into a field in Somerset, Pennsylvania (less than one-hundred miles from where I live) broke. I decided I would have to risk a scolding by The Sweety and waken her, for she had relatives who lived there.
The Sweety had only the day before flown to Minnesota as a companion for our daughter, who was starting her first year of college at Carlton University. I often wonder what might have happened had Fate made that trip a day later.
I did get a bit scolded, for The Sweety was exhausted from the round trip flight. She called our daughter to be assured she was all right. She was, but not aware of the horror taking place in the East.
So The Sweety and I watched the history of 911 unfold like millions of other couples.
Will we ever forget that day? Never. Has our lives gone on? Yes, else those that did this evil thing win.
RA: Too formal. I’m a warm and friendly guy. Can I call you ‘C’?
C8: You’ve written stories in all Circle 8 anthologies except the first one, Consequences. Why didn’t you write for that one?
RA: Frankly, I was trying to choose between C8 and taking a job writing speeches for President Obama.
C8: The President asked you to be his speechwriter?
C8: Then why did you say—?
RA: I’m a fiction writer. Lying is what we do.
C8: (shakes head and thinks about knives) Okay. So, you gave up being a fake speechwriter and joined the Circle 8 Writers Group for our 2nd anthology Crime & Punishment.
RA: What a great title. I think somebody wrote a bestseller with that title back in the olden days.
C8: You had two stories in that: Switch and The Scam. Let’s talk about Switch. In that, you opened the story with a ghost kissing her own dead corpse. What message were you trying to convey by that?
RA: Um, I guess…a ghost woman kissing another woman who’s dead is kind of hot?
C8: (clears her throat) What about The Scam? In that you write of a waitress who can’t sing, who is willing to do anything to prove she can. Is what you were trying to explore the way women can become victims of their own hopes and dreams?
RA: (clearly puzzled) No. I just hate it when waitresses would rather sing than fetch me my meal.
C8: (imagines her hands squeezing RA’s throat) Let’s move on. In our 3rd anthology Dark Christmas, you wrote The Little Drummer Zombie Boy. Why?
RA: Um, guess I didn’t have anything better to do?
C8: (imagines RA naked, tied to the ground in 110 degree sun, fire ants crawling all over him) In our 4th anthology Roses & Thorns, you have three stories: The Poet, The Engagement Game and What’s for Dinner? Why so many?
RA: I wanted to reward the group for not firing me for The Little Drummer Zombie Boy.
C8: Yet What’s for Dinner is another disgusting zombie story.
RA: Yes, but zombie sex sells!
C8: (visualizes RA dangling off a cliff, and she steps on his fingers) So, then, Robert, what plans have you for our dear readers in our upcoming 5th anthology Mothers & Other Strangers?
RA: Got three stories in it: Under the Tree That Owns Itself, Just Talking, and The Butterfly.
C8: Oh, The Butterfly. How nice. I love pretty butterflies.
RA: Then you’ll love that story. It’s about a woman who thinks a butterfly she finds on her dead husband’s pillow is him reincarnated. The love scene will knock your socks off.
Recently, Under The Tree That Owns Itself—my short story for the upcoming Circle 8 Writers Group anthology Mothers & Other Strangers—was voluntarily uploaded to the password protected Accentuate Writers Forum’s (link: http://accentuatewriters.com/) critiques thread. The story had already been sent to this C8 editor’s editor, Angel Sharum (yes, even an editor needs an editor); yet I was confident Under The Tree That Owns Itself would not only survive the scrutiny of my fellow writers, but the tale had all the right ingredients that goes into a top-notch short story.
I was right about the latter. The former proved to be quite a surprise.
My fellow writers noticed a few awkward sentences that would be made easier for the reader if rewritten, and they were kind enough to suggest how those sentences might be improved.Of course, there were the few punctuation errors. There were, also, a couple word errors. I corrected as guided.
But Under The Tree That Owns Itself is historical fiction, set in 1942 Athens, Georgia; so, even in a piece of fiction, accuracy of the details is imperative. On my own, I discovered a huge error to the time period. I decided to use my discovery to present a challenge to my fellow Accentuate Forum members: find my historical error; win a paperback of C8’s Mothers & Other Strangers upon its release.
It took about half a day for the sharp eye of Ned Livingston to report the error I was ready for (a reference to the house trailers that didn’t begin to be embraced as substitute housing until the late 50s), but Derek Odom chimed in with one less than obvious, yet just as critical an historical error: the name of Brittany for one of my characters. I didn’t know Brittany was never used to name American girls until the late 70s. Derek did.
There is no doubt in my mind that had I not exposed Under The Tree That Owns Itself to my fellow writers in Accentuate’s critiques thread, the story would have gone on to publication in the Circle 8 Writers Group’s next anthology Mothers & Other Strangers with a character named Brittany, that, for the most historically aware readers, would have ruined this very good story’s credibility.
So what’s my point? There is great value in having protected access to a critique thread of a writer’s forum where flaws can be plucked out before they can hurt a writer’s chances at publication.
I hear some writer’s forums that offer such free critique service can be nasty experiences whenever the reviewers are too smug and full of their own sense of infallibility and literary genius. You won’t find such people at the Accentuate Writers Forum. You will find all the writers there care just as much about your hopes and dreams as they do their own. They will give your work thoughtful, honest, and priceless evaluation: the kind of encouragement that makes a good writer evolve into an exceptional writer.
So, give the Accentuate Writers Forum a try. Like me, you’ll bless the day you did.
So, you’re in the mood to write a short story. You have your hot coffee within arm reach, and, if you’re like me among the dwindling minority of smokers (something’s going to kill me sooner or later, anyway), cigarettes. Should be easy to tap out the greatest whopper ever told.
Then you load Word and freeze at the sight of the white nothing. That blank doc, docx, or whatever electronic sheet just stares at you, waiting, maybe even mocks you: “Go ahead, O’Henry, fill me up with your brilliant prose, your delicious phrasing and your insightful characterizations. Give me dialogue so natural it makes me feel like I’m a part of the conversation and so deeply embedded in the plot that I would rather perish in my burning house than stop reading. Go ahead, punk. Make my day.”
Two cups of coffee and a half-pack of cigarettes (25 cents a piece for the cheapies in Pennsylvania), you begin to understand the deranged novelist in “The Shining”. You don’t type that two-word curse over and over and over again, but you want to. Don’t you?
You wimp. You no-talent and unimaginative phony. And you thought Stephen King was not fit to clean your nicotine-stained monitor.
“It was a dark and stormy night.” “It was the best of times and the worst of times.” “Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two.”
That’s plagiarism, idiot!
Let The Robert give you some grownup advice, kid. Force yourself to write that first sentence. Go ahead, plagiarize the line if you have too—you can always edit it out later. Just get going, for it is the truth, from my experience, that it is that first sentence that opens the valve and releases the river of creativity and gets you to the next sentence, the one after that and the one after that. Soon, you’ll have a paragraph or two—maybe an entire page of words wrapped around an interesting plot you’d might never have thought of, otherwise. You may have to discard all you wrote, but the kernel of plot that remains will get you started again.
Now, start over with that plot in mind. Write that first original sentence. Everything falls into place from there. You will stop writing from time to time to consider or reconsider where the whole tale is going, but you will move it along to conclusion. All that will be left is the easy part: the editing.
This is the method I always use to produce short stories for the Circle 8 Writers Group short story/flash fiction/poetry anthologies. I had zero concept of what I was going to write until I forced the first sentence (Christina caressed her cheek with the glass of sweet tea.) of my short story that eventually became “Under The Tree That Owns Itself” for the upcoming “Mothers & Other Strangers” C8 anthology.