FREE FICTION: “Even When You Try” by Bruce McAllister

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Even When You Try
by
Bruce McAllister

She insisted from the first time we met — which was after work, at a diner on Melrose, looking at each other down the counter and speaking at last — that she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, and in the end I did believe her. At first, I didn’t know what she meant. I hadn’t looked at her eyes enough. I hadn’t yet discovered the mole she kept covered with make-
up. She was an exhibitionist, sure, and beautiful, and could do things to you with her voice the way MM could (or so they say), but I didn’t really know what it meant for someone to live every day like that, being someone else, someone who’d died, who’d killed herself. I didn’t know she’d beg me to take her to plays and at intermission look for erudite men who (like Arthur
Miller, the first husband) might be playwrights. She’d say, “Let’s go talk to that guy — the one with the wool jacket.” Because she was so pretty, the guy would’ve already noticed her and didn’t mind our approaching him, didn’t mind talking to us, or to her. I didn’t know it would mean that even when we were just walking down Santa Monica Boulevard she’d be looking for guys with faces like that baseball player, Joe DiMaggio. It was sad how desperate she was, as if looking for her first love, or only love, or a father she’d lost.  She’d wear dresses the wind could move easily, and she’d stand over grates in the street (LA does have a few) waiting for her dress to be blown up by the wind and paparazzi to appear suddenly and take pictures, but it never happened. She just stood there waiting. She hung pictures of Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy — both of them — in our bedroom on Helena Court, and looked at them sometimes; but when she did, it made her cry, though she wasn’t sure why, she said.  She hadn’t known Bobby all that well, she said.  When she was unhappy, the sex was great, as if she could forget herself just a little, but I also know she wanted, in the middle of it, to call me by a name other than mine. She never did.  She didn’t want to be that cruel even if the entire thing — being a famous person instead of just a girl from the old housing tracts of Torrance — was a living hell for her, even if I didn’t matter really who I was because I wasn’t any of the guys she actually wanted and needed, any of the guys who could have kept her from killing herself and didn’t. I just wasn’t, so when the time came, I helped her with it. It was the least I could do.

Bruce McAllister is an award-winning West-Coast-based writing coach, writer in a wide range of genres, consultant in the fields of publishing and Hollywood, workshop leader and an “agent finder” for both new and established writers. As a writing coach, he specializes in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and screenplays.

FREE FICTION: “Love Story” by Bruce McAllister

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Love Story
by
Bruce McAllister

When I was forty, I had a girlfriend who was a lot younger. She had red hair, like me, and the difference was enough that some people thought she was my daughter. It didn’t bother me then, but it does now, with all the time I have to think about it in this house, trying to hear what she might say.  What was it like for her, our being together? Did she feel as important in our relationship as she was to me, or less, because I was older? Was she unhappier than she seemed but didn’t want to tell to me? Did it remind her of other relationships she’d had? Maria didn’t have much money, but she was scrappy, and for about a year she bartered with a guy for what she needed — car repairs, appliances, a TV. At one point, she agreed (I told her I’d help — I wanted her to know how much she meant to me) to clean the inside walls of a house off “E” Street, that really tough part of town. Iron bars on windows, cracked stucco, dead lawns, dogs with scarred faces, all of that. There were reddish streaks on one of the walls in the house. We scrubbed and scrubbed, but they wouldn’t go away. A neighbor, a big woman, dropped by twice and stared at us, especially Maria. We heard later that a young red-haired woman who looked like Maria — no husband, a young daughter, miserable in life — had been screwing the husbands in the neighborhood and finally been killed by two of the wives and in this very house. With knives. It was her blood on the walls, we were told, and no one could get it out. “If you can find someone who looks like her and make them do it,” an old woman on the block had said, “it just might work.” The wives wouldn’t let us leave until Maria tried, so she did, and I helped. But even though we scrubbed so hard the drywall finally came off in our hands, we couldn’t do it, and when we couldn’t, when the blood was still there on the walls, the wives killed us, too, with the same knives and with that old woman’s blessings. “You’ve both got hair just like hers,” we could hear her saying as they cut. 

Bruce McAllister is an award-winning West-Coast-based writing coach, writer in a wide range of genres, consultant in the fields of publishing and Hollywood, workshop leader and an “agent finder” for both new and established writers. As a writing coach, he specializes in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and screenplays.

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 7) by Norman Prentiss

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stop-motion dinosaurs fight!

Haunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books! Today, we’re presenting the exciting conclusion!

When we last saw Jack and Shawn, they joined another couple on a “Dinosaur Safari” tour, their guide Troy leading them downriver. After finding themselves on a strange beach, the group was attacked by a large dinosaur; they killed that one, but a T-Rex followed…and something worse seemed ready to emerge from the forest…Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 6) by Norman Prentiss

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Haunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books!

When we last saw Jack and Shawn, they joined another couple on a “Dinosaur Safari” tour, their guide Troy leading them downriver. After finding themselves on a strange beach, the group is attacked by a large dinosaur…Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 5) by Norman Prentiss

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photo from the 1925 film The Lost World
Photo from The Lost World (1925)

Haunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books!

When we last saw Jack and Shawn, they joined another couple on a “Dinosaur Safari” tour, their guide Troy leading them downriver. After a (real? fake?) dinosaur sailed beneath their raft, nearly capsizing it, a massive whirlpool threatened to pull them underwater. They escaped, only to find themselves on a strange beach…Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 4) by Norman Prentiss

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cover of Haunted Attractions with your Other FatherHaunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books!

When we last saw Jack and Shawnthey joined another couple on a “Dinosaur Safari” tour, their guide Troy leading them downriver. Unfortunately, Jack is afraid of water, and he’d projected a vision of a vast, malicious ocean into his partner’s mind…Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 3) by Norman Prentiss

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Dinosaur Farm signHaunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books!

When we last saw Jack and Shawn, they were visiting a roadside attraction that promised lizards (and dinosaurs!). By projecting a distracting illusion into his partner’s mind, Jack was able to help Shawn win a bet with the proprietor, securing free tickets to the “dinosaur safari” tour.Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 2) by Norman Prentiss

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Haunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Fatherand continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Cemetery Dance is proud to publish this new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), and to celebrate we’re serializing a new novella featuring the characters from the books!

When we last saw Jack and Shawn, they were visiting a roadside attraction that promised lizards (and dinosaurs!). The proprietor directed them to a back curtain, and proposed an unusual wager. Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” (Part 1) by Norman Prentiss

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cover of Haunted Attractions with your Other FatherHaunted Attractions with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss is the sequel to his Odd Adventures with your Other Father, and continues the horror/fantasy road trip adventures of Jack and Shawn as they fight monsters and homophobia in the ’80s. Since CD is publishing the new novel (with an e-book version now on sale at Amazon for 0.99!), we thought we’d catch up with the author to hear a little bit about the new book, and learn why he’s serializing a novella-length adventure for free. (Keep reading after this brief interview to begin the free story!)Continue Reading

“My Girl” by Bruce McAllister

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My Girl
by
Bruce McAllister

I suppose I love her. I know she loves me. We’re quite a pair at night, walking the alleys of the old parts of the city, the junkyards, the tougher residential areas, where the dogs are bigger and meaner—which is what she likes.

She likes me to watch.Continue Reading

“Ballad of the Broken Hearts at the Danse Macbre” by Kevin Lucia

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It’s publication day for Kevin Lucia as Crystal Lake Publishing releases October Nights, his collection of Halloween-themed short stories. To celebrate, Cemetery Dance is proud to share “Ballad of the Broken Hearts at the Danse Macabre,” a Halloween-themed short story that is NOT included in October Nights. Think of it as a bonus story, a companion to Lucia’s collection (which he discussed with us in a Q&A right here.)

Enjoy!

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The Mask: A Halloween Serial Novel by Kevin Lucia

Cemetery Dance reviews editor/columnist Kevin Lucia is writing a Halloween serial novel one day at a time on his blog. We thought it might be something our readers would enjoy as we count down to our favorite holiday!  Check out Kevin’s essay on the origins of The Mask, and follow the links at the end to read along.

 

The creepy mask that inspired Kevin Lucia's serial novel The Mask.Two weeks ago, I found the weirdest mask in our school’s dirt cellar.

The dirt cellar—which began life as a fallout shelters in the fifties—is where all sorts of things get stored. Things like old desks, cabinets, bookshelves, toilets, tables…you name it. Boxes of old textbooks, old televisions, all the things a school might store over the years instead of throwing out, just because they “might” be needed sometime in the future.

I’m down there all the time. I’m a scrounger by nature, (I learned it from my Dad, who learned it from his father, who was a teen during the Depression), and I’m always looking for something to add to my classroom. In this case, I was looking for Halloween decorations, because seasonal decorations are also stored in the dirt cellar.
And I found this weird rubber mask. With bulging eyes, stringy black hair, and a gaping black mouth. Inspiration struck, and I decided to take the mask (its rubber felt weird between my fingers) and hang it on my classroom door in the center of Halloween wreath as my own “Marley Knocker.”

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CD eBook Spotlight: That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard

Coiver for That Which Grows WildWe’re devoting this latest eBook column to Eric J. Guignard’s story collection, That Which Grows Wild.

In May of this year, the book won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. Instead of an interview, this time we asked the author to provide a story that’s not in the book, as a kind of bonus/addendum, but also to give a sample of the kind of eclectic fiction you’ll find in the full collection. Without further ado, please enjoy the melancholy, romantic apocalypse of “Carmine Lips and a Fade into Oblivion.”Continue Reading

Fiction: The Road That Takes You There by Jason Sechrest

Meet George Tinker. Each day, George fires up his ’57 Thunderbird and drives down the road in his small home town—the same road he’s been driving since he was old enough to get behind the wheel. 

But, for the first time in his life, George is about to come to the end of that road—and he’ll finally have to face what’s waiting for him there.

Cemetery Dance is proud to present “The Road That Takes You There” by columnist and author Jason Sechrest. Continue Reading

Free Fiction: Malignant Ghosts (Part 3) by Maynard Sims

Malignant Ghosts
(Part 3)
by
Maynard Sims

By the time she got home, Beth was exhausted. The new chair was robust enough, but she had become used to her previous one, and this replacement didn’t feel as smooth to maneuver. Consequently her arms ached on her trial run around the hospital corridors. An orderly helped her put it into the car, and waved her off cheerily as she drove out of the car park.Continue Reading