My new short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark is now available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Google Play and the Apple iBookstore! It contains a mix of horor, science fiction and a few in between. Until the end of the year, I’m offering it at a discount of $4.99.
Since Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark features ten short stories plus an introduction by Adam Shaftoe-Durrant, here’s ten and a half things I’d like you to know about this collection.
1) The title Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark came to me immediately upon seeing the photo taken by my friend Frank Depino. (See #3 below.) I love that the photo was both inspirational and terrifying. Of course, part of the title comes from my short story “Touch the Sky, They Say”. But more than that, a lot of my fiction touches on contrasting ideas, so Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark has both an inspirational message (“touch they sky”) as well as a more grounded, almost pessimistic message (“embrace the dark”).
2) Though I am self-publishing this collection, all of the stories have been published in magazines and anthologies like On Spec, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, the Drabblecast and Leading Edge. That is to say they have been professionally edited and have been through several proofreads.
2.5) “The Weak Son” was edited by Bram Stoker Award winner David Morrell, best know for creating the character John Rambo is his novel First Blood.
3) The cover is a photo taken just before a storm in my home town of Guilford, Connecticut on Tanner Marsh Road on the overpass above I-95. It was taken by a high school friend, Frank Depino, who is president of mediaBOOM, a company that specializes in amazing looking websites. Check out Frank’s Instagram page for some amazing pictures—some bright and cheery, others just as creepy.
4) The collection is dedicated to my high school creative writing teacher, Joan Frances Garbar, who gave me a piece of criticism that has stuck with me over the decades: “I don’t see enough of you in your writing.” (I should also use this space to thank my university creative writing teacher, Janice Law, who pushed me to improve my prose and tighten my stories.)
5) The introduction is written by Adam Shaftoe-Durrant, who runs the Page of Reviews website. While Adam has favourably reviewed a number of my stories, his review of “Touch the Sky, They Say”—which is the first time he reviewed my work—was not too enthusiastic.
6) Some of these stories began life with different titles. Perhaps changing them helped get them published. For example:
- “The Machinery of Government” was originally titled “Lovey, Dovey” after the main character’s pet name for his wife (which I later excised).
- “In the Shadow of Scythe” started life as “And Behold, a Green Horse”, combining the biblical reference to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse with the colour of environmentalism.
- I first entitled “While Gabriel Slept” as “Father’s Day”.
- “The Weak Son” received a number of rejections under the title “Soliloquy”.
- When I sold “Touch the Sky, They Say”, it was titled “Grey New World” but the editors did not want a derivative title.
7) Two of the stories in this collection have been nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s most prestigious award for non-genre fiction. “ΔΠ (Delta Pi)”, which opens the collection, was nominated for the 2013 award. “Touch the Sky, They Say”, which concludes the collection, was nominated in 2011.
8) This collection includes the first short story I ever sold. “Full Moon Hill” appeared in the Winter 2007 edition of On Spec magazine. However, this version is a shorter, tighter version than what appeared in that issue.
9) Even though I firmly believe stories should, by default, be told in the third person past tense, six of the stories in this collection are told first person, present tense. I talk more about first person writing in a three-part series. Read part one of this series.
10) Every story in this collection begins with an image that reflects a scene, concept, item or theme from the story. Some are more obvious than others. My hope is that they give this collection something a bit more than just straight ahead text. Below are some examples:
“Ascension” is about something universal and connected—and horrible—within us.
A full moon and saloon figure into the mixture of horror and western in “Full Moon Hill”.
Something awful happens in “The Weak Son”. The questions is what… and who.