Sleep Paralysis: A Writing Prompt

“Imagine waking up to find you can’t move a muscle. It’s dark, but you’re sure you feel a presence in the room, hovering near your bed — or perhaps sitting on your chest, crushing the breath out of you. This weird phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis…”

–Stephanie Pappas, “What Makes Sleep Paralysis Scary

Sleep paralysis is a terrifying condition rife with dramatic possibilities. It’s already inspired countless horror films, stories, and paintings. Many artists have used devices like alien abductions, astral projection, and even possession in their attempts to translate the terror of sleep paralysis. How would you translate such an experience?

For more inspiration…

Can’t Move – The Sleep Paralysis Prompts,” Marie Lightman Prompt Response Blog

What Makes Sleep Paralysis Scary,” Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

31 Truly Terrifying Tales From People With Sleep Paralysis,” Dan Dalton, BuzzFeed

The Nightmare, A sleep paralysis documentary, Dir. Rodney Ascher

Feature image credit: Henry Fuseli (1781)

Good News & Great Writers

Plenty of beautiful spring weather here in Baltimore, as well as plenty of great news!

51Q7MRxaY6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_First, let me start by saying that I’m not including myself in the “Great Writers” portion of this post’s title. Rather, I’m referring to some amazing artists who I’ve only just discovered thanks to H.L. Nelson and Joanne Merriam’s anthology Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up to No Goodas well as to the terrific new publication Witch Craft Magazine.

In Nelson and Merriam’s anthology, they’ve got some classic, big league writers like Aimee Bender and Joyce Carol Oates as well as some less-well-known but undoubtedly terrific authors like xTx (here’s her website) and Andrea Kneeland (here’s an interview with her). Definitely worth reading and then rereading!

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In Witch Craft Magazine (issue one; I haven’t yet received my copy of issue two), I was thrilled to find story after story and poem after poem that I simply loved. I fancy myself as a rather picky reader, but the entire first issue struck me as a precious gem. Authors I’m now particularly excited about thanks to this issue are: Chelsea Laine Wells, Nicola Maye Goldberg, and Anna Lea Jancewicz.


Now, on to more of the good news (drum roll, please; thank you–alright, that’s enough! End drum roll already!):

I’m thrilled to announce that my story “The Spyglass” will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Cease, Cows and that my flash fiction story “Shelf Space” has just gone live in the latest issue of Literary Orphans!

Here’s a little teaser of “The Spyglass”:

I always felt empty as a kid, and some nights I feared I might wake up on the ceiling, floating like a hollow barrel on a dark sea. My Aunt Theo often tried cheering me up, but it wasn’t until I happened upon one of her secrets that it finally did any good.

And a little teaser of “Shelf Space”:

And though Rose’s moods and body soon recovered and returned to normal, her newfound connection to the fridge only ever intensified. …

 

Happy Reading & Happy Writing, everyone!

New Publication!

I am so proud that my short story “The Slide” has finally found its niche. I wrote this short story while working with The Roving Writings in Pittsburgh, and it’s gone through several major shifts before finding its way home.

Check it out now with Litro Magazine!

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Hungry for a taste? Here’s the teaser:

My left eye was sliding down the side of my face, drooping like an almond in a half-melted candy bar.

First, I reminded myself not to scream.

 

Happy Reading and, as always, Happy Writing!

Lucky Reads for Your Spring

Let’s welcome in springtime and St. Patrick’s Day with a big Cleaver Magazine THWACK! Lucky Issue No. 13 is out—so let’s see what’s on the cutting board.

Lucky 13

***Full disclosure, I’m an Editor-at-Large with Cleaver, and am incredibly proud to be so given its talented staff, dedication to including emerging writers/artists in each issue, and its combination of traditional and nontraditional forms of storytelling. So, yeah, I’m a bit biased.***

I recommend giving the entire issue a read, but here are just a few of my personal favorites:

LAST WORDS
by Willie Davis

(short fiction)

For a long time, I kept myself awake by writing personalized suicide notes for each of my friends. I’d found a website that compiled every recorded suicide note of the last ten years, and, not to sound conceited, I could do better. …


COCKCROW
by Tyler Kline

(poetry)

 Moment: a mother inks the scythe
above her daughter’s breast …


A PRESENCE IN WOOD
Wood Sculpture
by Miriam Carpenter

(visual art)


BLUE: SMOKE: COTTON: TEETH: CAT: JELLY: BLOW
by Anne Panning

(flash fiction)

I rarely wear blue, but today there’s a striped dress the color of rain in my closet. …


EMU ON THE LOOSE
by Thaddeus Rutkowski

(flash fiction)

Not much was happening at the artists’ retreat (people were hiding in their studios; maybe they were working; maybe they were drinking) until the emu arrived. We didn’t know where it came from; no one came with it. Wherever it had been, it hadn’t been missed.. …


 

NIGHT OWL
by Carmella de los Angeles Guiol

(creative nonfiction)

I once loved a man who was a creature of the night. Like me, but more so. He slept through most of the daylight hours, his wily hair a halo on his satin pillowcase. Sometimes I stopped by his room between classes to curl up next to him and feel his dreaming body register mine. …


Great Reads from Great Magazines

Check out these great stories and essays! Then–why not?–go ahead and check out more from these truly wonderful publications.

Tangerine” by Amy Roher, Room Magazine

(short story)

I once kept a tangerine in my purse. I watched it turn leathery, sweet and puckered. Eventually, there was nothing to it at all, just a dried-up husk.

“Life is hard,” says my ex-roommate Jeena, who spells her name that way because that’s the way you say it. She likes to tell it like it is. That’s the drinker’s philosophy. …

Cheese Baby” by Anna North, Talking Writing***

(I love this flash fiction story — I wish I’d written it!)

When my period came again, a day ahead of schedule, I carved myself a baby out of cheese. …

Wild Flowers” by Chelsea Ruxer, Hermeneutic Chaos

(flash fiction)

It was four years ago she slipped on the flat stone steps by the strawberries. She always wanted to get the weeding done after a rain, while the ground was still soft enough to pull the roots from the soil. But she was ninety-two then …

Deep Intellect” by Sy Montgomery, Orion Magazine

(I’ve probably promoted/suggested this CNF essay before but…who cares? It’s good enough to warrant all the good press it gets — Montgomery is amazing!)

On an unseasonably warm day in the middle of March, I traveled from New Hampshire to the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium, hoping to touch an alternate reality. I came to meet Athena, the aquarium’s forty-pound, five-foot-long, two-and-a-half-year-old giant Pacific octopus. …

The Final Problem” by Scott Onak, SmokeLong Quarterly

(flash fiction)

The seven detectives lived together in a rented house. Two shared a bedroom, four had their own rooms, and one slept on the screened-in back porch, where it was darkest. …

One Lover. Two Lovers. Three Lovers. Four.
by Donna Hall, Muses & Visionaries 

(CNF essay)

I am a 60-something-year-old working, professional woman who has traveled the world, had some wild adventures, and then hunkered down to work and family, first as a mother, now as a (youthful!) grandmother, and always as a career woman. I thought there was little left to shock and upset me, but I was wrong. …

The Moon is a Wasteland” by Daniel DiFranco, SmokeLong Quarterly

(flash fiction)

At night, Thomas climbed up onto the roof of his house carrying a lasso. He threw it out, and it fell, limp and coiled. He tried again, and again, and on the seventh try, Goddamnit, he really did put that bastard right around the moon. …

***Also, for some truly breathtaking poetry, check out Acorn Journal.***

 

Happy Reading & Writing!

Wintry Omens

I looked out my attic-office window last night and saw a fresh layer of fluffy snow falling over my street. Whenever it snows, I always feel a strange sense of possibility, as if it were a harbinger or omen. Of course, it’s snowed plenty in Baltimore this winter, and most of it’s seemed to simply be snow. Still, a superstitious person like myself can have a difficult time shaking those mysterious, inexplicable “feelings.” (And really, who even wants to shake themselves that hard?)

When I finally pulled myself away from the window to get back to work, I checked my email (classic writer-proscrastination move), et voilà! I had a note waiting for me from the editors of Natural Bridge saying they wanted to publish my short story, “The Soup.”

Looking out my window now at a snow-painted myrtle tree, there’s a handsome pair of cardinals standing guard and looking back at me.

It’s been a rough few weeks, but–knock on wood–I think everything’s going to be alright. I really do.

Be on the lookout for my new short story “The Soup” with Natural Bridge this fall!

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Natural Bridge is always a rewarding combination of the weighty and the whimsical, a literary encounter worth pursuing.

–New Pages

Here’s a teaser of the story to come:

            They only needed thirty cherry stone clams for the chowder, but the woman at the counter—wearing gloves and a stocking cap against the chill of the dead iced fish—said that a bag of fifty would be cheaper.

“What do you say, baby?” Frank asked, winking at Louisa from over their grocery list.

“Can’t have too many,” she said, and settled the plastic sack of blond-shelled clams down in the cart, top shelf where their child would’ve sat if they’d ever had one. …

 

Happy Writing!

New Publication!

After being sick and gross for the past week, it was especially welcome good news that I received today from Literary Orphans. My flash fiction story “Shelf Space”—a story adapted from a moment in my current novel-in-progress The Fire Eaters—has just been accepted for publication!

literary orphans logo

What is Literary Orphans, you ask? What are they trying to create? Well, as they themselves explain:

Some people read to escape. You may even have come here for that. But you won’t leave on any electronic flying carpets. The world we struggle to create on these binary pages is a world that will make you uncomfortable and reflective.

Look for “Shelf Space” in the upcoming issue!

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!

A strange journey through the worlds of writing and publishing

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