Illustration by Viergacht
If you have followed my website, you know that I usually post a short horror story from the nineteenth or early twentieth century on Saturday nights. I call it “The Saturday Night Special”. I have accumulated somewhere around 36+ stories, all of which are in the public domain. I have decided to collect these into a volume and publish them on Kindle. I have not decided what the title will be. It’s probably going to be Slattery’s Classic Tales of Horror or something similar. Until last night, I had only two stories and no front or back matter or even a basic framework. Last night, while watching Netflix with the family, I started going back into my posts and putting them in the new collection, arranging them in chronological order. I wrote a draft title in Algerian font and a preface (Times New Roman like the rest of the text). I picked a quotation from Shakespeare for the quotation page :”What’s past is prologue.” I now have fourteen stories and poems from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe (naturally), Algernon Blackwood, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Louisa May Alcott (yes, the author of Little Women did write at least one ghost story), M.R. James, Wilkie Collins, and several others. If a story has some notes that I published with the story originally, I am including them. I will probably include a photo or drawing of the author with each story, as I did originally.
Having the stories arranged chronologically will be good so that the reader can see the progression of horror over the decades. You will be able to see how writing styles developed on a nationwide level as well as the development of the English language and the American dialect.
I have no completion date set, but if I can continue as I did last night (and taking into the account that I have to work a day job), I may be finished in a month or two.
My wife and I discussed the Shadows and Stars cover tonight. Here is her idea of what it should be. Let me know what you think. I like them both. Hers is really good, I think.
Possible alternate cover for Shadows and Stars
Shadows and Stars cover, first draft, for Kindle
I have been searching for royalty-free, public domain images that I can use in my works, particularly Shadows and Stars. Here’s my first idea for its cover using something from Pixabay. Let me know what you think. Of course, the proportions are for an e-book on Kindle, and I would have to modify it for a standard 6″x9″ cover, which I might do tomorrow. But you get the idea of what it might be like.
Selfie with Lotus in background near Arkansas Post, September 4, 2019
I am closing in on finishing the first draft of Shadows and Stars. It’s time for me to start (probably late) some of the peripheral tasks of producing a book. I think I will start designing a cover for one thing. I hope to have Shadows and Stars published by a big, traditional publishing house rather than self-publishing, but in any case, I will need at least an idea of what my vision of its cover should be, if, for no other reason, than to give the cover artists a starting point. I will go with whatever looks the best and expresses the emotional impact the best. At least that’s my initial thought. Any comments or suggestions? I am open.
As I develop ideas, I will probably post them here for comment. Of course, I won’t make a hard and fast decision until all is said and done.
I will probably need an agent as well. I should start checking the Internet and researching how to find and select an agent. I learned a little about this in the Farmington Writers Circle, but I need to get serious about it now.
I am not planning any parties until a publisher accepts it. I am just going to intensify my research in the final stages of producing a novel.
As I often do, I am having trouble sleeping tonight. So I have been surfing the net and going through my electronic files looking for some flash fiction that I recently wrote and that I would like to submit somewhere. However, in the process of doing that, I ran across some early works, one of which I thought I would share here. I have not published it in any of my collections. It was originally published in the online magazine “Six Sentences” over ten, maybe fifteen years ago. The main requirement for stories to be published in “Six Sentences” was that they had to be six sentences or less in length.
The story is entitled “Warehouses and All”. It is based on a true story told to me in 1989 by a woman who had been an assistant agricultural attache to the US embassy in Somalia. At the time, I was working in the Defense Attache Office in Cairo. One weekend, I decided to take a trip to Luxor to see the temple and Valley of the Kings. The lady and I shared a horse-drawn carriage for several minutes. I forget our destinations. In the story, I changed the narrator to an American ex-pat working in the Somali oilfields for various reasons. Otherwise, the story is very close to the story she related to me. As you can see, it was quite a challenge to reduce her story to only six sentences, but I believe I pulled it off well. If Six Sentences is still up and running, you may be able to find the original story. I received several compliments on it.
By the way, while I was in Luxor, I stayed at the Jolie Ville Hotel. Apparently, it is still doing well. I recommend staying there if you are ever in Luxor.
Warehouses and All
I met the world-weary expatriate American at a garden party in Egypt in ’89, several months after he had left the Somali oilfields. He remembered that outside his barracks near Mogadishu there had been warehouses full of rice donated by foreign charities to combat the perpetual famine. The impoverished, inept government had no trucks to distribute the rice and fighting among factions within the government insured none could be arranged while their arcane laws kept them from simply opening the doors. So the rice sat as starving women tried to glean the few grains they could from what had fallen off trucks hauling it in or from what had leaked out through cracks in the walls. One night he awoke to commotion and found that the warehouses were in flames. “The rice had sat so long that it had rotted, so the government burned it―warehouses and all,” he said with a look that spoke volumes about his exasperation with the world.