Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random - Giant Cats, The Simpsons

I have nothing new to share regards writing, or brain appears to have stopped working though, so just to make sure you don't all forget about me I thought I should do a post of some description...

So, some random things that attracted my attention recently:

Longest cat in the world. 
Cat is over 48 inches (4 feet!) long. 

I want one of those. 

The Vatican has found time to declare that Homer Simpson is a Catholic. 
Well seeing as God is fictional I suppose it's only fair the congregation is too...

Still, seems like the Vatican should really be busying themselves with a few other issues than claiming cartoon characters...

A study claims to have evidence for psi-phenomena or non-linear time

Umm...yeah. Seems more like a study about attention and memory retrieval and how existing information effects how we encode new...but clearly it sounds way cooler to say it's evidence for people predicting the future. Ahem.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

House of Horror Best of 2010!

Earlier this year, I had a story accepted for publication on House of Horror. That story was Mike Patterson, Murderer, and you can read it here.

Mike Patterson, Murderer, is a tale about a man undergoing a mid-life crisis, who kills without compunction as an alternative to what he sees as the more pathetic middle-aged antics of his peers.

The excellent news is, my story has been selected as one of the best pieces on House of Horror in 2010 and therefore features in the anthology! So if you would rather read it in a book than off the screen...

You can order a copy of House of Horror: Best of 2010 on the House of Horror bookshop.

If you do order a copy, please quote my name as I get royalties that way!

Even if you don't order a copy of this book, it's well worth taking a look at the spooky House of Horror website.There are loads of great stories, poems and book reviews to read, and plenty of other anthologies to buy, including Stitched Up! which also features one of my stories, a zombie-tale called White Christmas.

You can also follow the owner and head editor of House of Horror, S.E. Cox, on blogger - for updates on House of Horror including calls for submissions, anthology releases and more news on HoH's plans to seek novel submissions next year, as well as book reviews and interviews. S.E. Cox's blog is here:

Over all 2010 has been a great year so far - I've had quite a few pieces accepted for anthologies now. Can't beat seeing my name in print!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just the Dust - A short story from Casting Shadows

This story is the opening one in Casting Shadows. I am publishing it here today because today's date, ten-ten-ten (10/10/10) features in the story, so it seemed appropriate.

Would anyone like to review Casting Shadows, by the way? If so, please send an email to
joleenkuyper (at) gmail (dot) com

I don't have any hard copies at the moment but you can have the PDF, I'd love to get another review for the collection especially as it's coming up to Halloween! It's a mixture of stories and poems, mostly horror-speculative-dark fantasy genres. By Joleen Kuyper (me!), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson. If it sounds like the kind of thing you'd be interested in, send me an email!

Just the Dust
Ashes. Nothing left, just the dust swirling in the air. Too light to touch, but choking and dark. It blocked out the light.

Her voice was croaky, and it echoed as she called for help. There were no replies. Her mouth tasted funny. Blood mixed with the smoky taste of the dust. She swallowed. A wave of nausea came over her.

What happened? The question came to her mind suddenly. Immediately, others followed. She couldn’t remember anything else either. Who am I? She wondered. For some reason the terror of that thought made her shudder more than the situation she found herself in.

She tried to move her legs. They were trapped under something. Whatever it was, it was heavy. The air was still too thick for her to see. She coughed, her chest hurt. She called for help again and again until her throat hurt too. There was no answer. There was nothing; just her and whatever was pinning her down.

Her head hurt as well. A tear rolled down her cheek. I’m going to die here, she thought. She sobbed until her head felt it would burst and a mixture of tears and blood from her cuts rolled into her mouth. She wondered if her own blood and tears dribbling into her would save her from dying of thirst. She didn’t think it would.

Her throat was too raw now to even shout and she didn’t think she had the energy to cry. Strangely, as well as desperate and terrified, she felt bored.

Think! She told herself. I have a name, I have a life. I must have. No answers came. The air didn’t hurt her nostrils anymore but she still couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t be sure if it was dark or the air was still clogged up.

I’m bored. What would I like to be doing? She asked herself. Something with my hands. Maybe I’m an artist? She wondered, then frowned. No. That wasn’t right. Busy hands, always moving. Something to do with a computer, she realised. I type quickly. A hundred words per minute. How can I be so certain of that and not know my own name?

She felt like drifting off to sleep, tried to force herself to stay awake. Remember something else. Something that might help, she instructed herself firmly. There must be someone looking for me, missing me. I’ve been here hours, she thought. It must be hours. A mother or father, brother or sister, friend or lover? A child? She wondered. Am I gay or straight? How can I not know?

She tried to think of celebrities, which images turned her on. Angelina Jolie came to her mind. Lesbian? She wondered, but soon imagined both Angelina and Brad Pitt in bed, with her. In her mind they had faces, she did not. Bi, or bi-curious, she mused, forcing away the fear at not knowing what she looked like. “How can I know who they are and not myself,” she muttered in a coarse whisper.

She tried touching her face to figure out what her features were. All she could feel was the dust and scrapes. Her nose felt big, she realised after she poked and prodded at herself more. And her lips were narrow. She felt down. Large chest, medium waist. Her legs were still painful, though it was more a dull ache now. She thought they were long but she wasn’t sure. “Quite tall,” she muttered. She still couldn’t picture what she looked like. Her hair was dry with dust and matted with blood, and she couldn’t remember what colour it was.

“What day is it? What year?” she asked herself aloud. Hearing her voice helped her concentrate. “What accent am I speaking in? Where am I from?”

“Ten, ten, ten,” she said suddenly. “October tenth, two thousand and ten. That must be the date, today’s date. Or maybe a date important to me.” She could see her hands suddenly, inputting the date into a computer. Slim fingers. Today’s date, she thought.

“Seven, seven, eighty-two,” she said after a moment. My date of birth, she thought, something told her she was right. “I’m twenty eight,” she said aloud, gravity in her voice, as if it would unlock the puzzle and set her free. Nothing happened.

I’m getting somewhere, she thought. If I can just work out who I am and why I’m here, maybe I can get out of here. She knew that she couldn’t afford to go to sleep. Knew that could mean never waking up again.

She tried to focus on the image of herself tapping away on the computer keys, remember what data apart from the date she was inputting. Am I at work, she wondered, was there an accident? A terrorist attack maybe? There must be someone looking for me! “Help!” she shouted, her throat raspy and sore. No response, no sound, nothing. Just dark emptiness.

“Six-o-six,” she said aloud then. A train, a train home? What route? What line? Victoria? “I’m in London,” she said, nodding to herself. “London,” she repeated. It felt good, to know where she was. The tube. Some kind of accident, I’m buried in a tunnel. They will come to dig me out. Why don’t I have a mobile phone? She wondered. She had nothing but the clothes on her back. No gadgets, no handbag, no purse or wallet.

Where is everyone else? If I was on the train it must have been crowded. There must have been other people. They can’t all be dead, surely? Panic gripped her as she started to fear being given up on, her breathing became fast and shallow and she felt her eyes grow watery again. Can’t cry, or I’ll get dehydrated, she told herself as she brought her breathing under control, forced herself to calm down. I have to figure out how to get the hell out of here, never mind who I am, that can come later in a nice clean hospital bed with a shrink or whatever.

She took a few slow, deep breaths and leaned forward as far as she could until the pain was too much to bear. Holding her breath helped a little. Whatever was on her legs was metallic and very heavy. She thought they were probably broken; she had some feeling in them but couldn’t manage to move her toes. A memory came back to her of having broken her leg at school; before being taken to casualty the teacher had taken off her shoe and sock and asked her to wiggle her toe. She could hear the teacher in her mind, speaking her name, but couldn’t make out the word.

“Never mind that,” she muttered to herself. “First things first.” She thought that maybe it was a part of the train carriage that was on her legs. It was heavy and though her legs were probably broken she couldn’t feel any wounds in them, no jagged shards poking out. She summoned up her strength and heaved, but she couldn’t get the right angle, couldn’t manage to shift it even the tiniest bit.

Spots appeared before her eyes as she exerted herself, and when they cleared as she took slow, deep breaths again she realised the air was clearing, there was a light in the distance somewhere. “Here! Please, help! I’m trapped!” she called as loudly as she could manage, which wasn’t as loudly as she would have liked. There was no response, no movement. No sound. Just a light in the tunnel, she thought.

She tried lifting again, then using her hands to tug at her legs but she couldn’t get anywhere. The silence disturbed her more with every minute that passed. The light down the tunnel blinked a few times, then went off. Complete darkness again.

There weren’t any animals either, she realised. There should be rats or something, surely, in the tunnels? There was nothing. Just her.

A wave of nausea came over her again as blood trickled down her throat from the back of her nostrils, and she gagged. Blood dribbled down her nose as well now, and she wiped it away with her sleeve. It too, was covered in dust.

She squirmed around some more, feeling for something that might be able to help her. A wedge of metal lay behind her head and she dragged it over her, little by little, and jammed it under the other piece, then rolled onto her side to push down on it with the weight of her body. She felt the pressure on her legs give way a little and once again reached for them with her hands, pulling them out. This time, she managed.

Which way? She wondered as she glanced around her. She wasn’t even certain anymore which direction the light had been in; the darkness was disorienting. She lay back down, her legs on top of the sheet of metal now rather than beneath it, to get her bearings. She started to crawl in the direction of the light, dragging her legs.

She was definitely in a tunnel, she thought as she made her way along a solid wall. It suddenly gave way, prodding with her hands she realised she’d reached a flight of stairs. She hauled herself up a couple, found it excruciatingly difficult. Her legs were a dead weight behind her.

A few at a time she made some progress. There was still no sign of anyone else, dead or alive. Just the dust.

She reached a plateau. A floor that was smooth beneath the coating of ashes, it was easier to move along. She wasn’t really thinking about anything but moving when the word iodine popped into her head. Iodine? She wondered. What’s that about?

It was still dark, though not as dark, but she still couldn’t see anything. The only difference was that now it was grey rather than black. A sickly kind of grey. She could just about see her hands, they were covered with sores, blood oozed out of her.

Suddenly she stopped; she heard something. Something scuttling, moving quickly toward her. She screamed as it passed over her hand. A huge beetle, maybe a cockroach. Just one. “Calm down, Lisa,” she said aloud suddenly. “Lisa! My name! I’m Lisa!” A wave of elation hit her. “It’s all coming back,” she thought.

“Calm down, Lisa,” she muttered again. Someone had said that to her. A man, older, her father perhaps? What had she been doing? She saw a newspaper article. Nuclear hostilities a possibility. She felt her panic on that day.

“Scaremongering,” her father had said. “They said that all during the cold war, we’re still here.” She took the iodine tablets anyway, the ones they sent out. Bought more on the internet, dosed herself with them.

Conspiracy theories. Ten, ten, ten. Today’s date. The end of the world. It was all over the internet. She looked at her hands again. The sores were getting worse, she thought. Even iodine couldn’t put off the inevitable forever. She’d run for the tunnels, not to catch a train. To hide from the blast. None of her friends had believed her.

She looked around again. Knew where she was. London, St. Pancras. Except there was nothing there. Just dust. She heard another cockroach scuttling around nearby. More of them, behind her now. They were coming for her. She pulled herself further along, but they came nearer. She winced as a piece of skin peeled off the palm of her hand. Heard the roaches eating it as she moved onward.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Misty Morning - A Short Story

A flash fiction. I wrote and revised this as part of Folded Word 24/7, in which participants wrote a piece a day for the month of August.


Misty Morning

She climbed the tower as she did every morning. Today was different though. Usually the whole town was visible and she started her days by surveying it, and dreaming of what she would one day do. Now she couldn’t. Everything was hidden behind a shroud of mist. What little she could see was blurred and grey, and all the sounds were muffled. She felt like the only person left on earth. It left her feeling powerful and sad simultaneously as she climbed down. She could not do what she intended.

She went into the world as normal. Participated in the usual doing of job, paying of bills, answering of questions or whatever passed for dialogue. Pretended to be normal, as she did every day. She concealed the rage within her core, as before.

The mist did not burn off as the day progressed. The light remained the same shade of grey, only the movement of the clock indicated that time was passing at all. As evening arrived she climbed the tower once more and surveyed the valley. It was still hidden. Cloaked in mist.

They’re safe, she thought as she took the rifle apart again. They’re safe for at least one more day. If I can’t see them, I can’t shoot.

Darkness fell, and the mist remained.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My name is...

This is a repost of a post from June. Yup, I am that lazy! It's still relevant though, hence why I'm posting it again.

Joleen. Yes, Joleen. J-O-L-E-E-N.

J for Juliet
O for Oscar
L for Lima
E for Echo
E for Echo
N for November

I am aware that Dolly Parton spelled it differently (Jolene).

This is probably the most common variation I get. Other common ones are Joeleen, Joelene, Joline, sometimes Joelle and occasionally, Gillian. (I get all sorts of variations on my surname too, but I won't go on about that here).

I've grown used to it. Most annoying is when it's spelled wrong on a cheque - especially when I've typed out an invoice with my name on it, spelled correctly. I don't hold the knowledge of how to spell all names in the universe within my brain either - but when I'm writing a letter/email/cheque etc, I do tend to do my best to check how the person I'm addressing it to spells their name. Cheques especially, as the bank has this remarkably annoying tendency not to allow people to cash them if the name on the cheque doesn't match that on the account.

 What's even more hilarious than people spelling it wrong though, is when people tell me I spell it wrong. I wasn't aware of the law that made Dolly Parton's words (and their associated spellings) some kind of canon. I wasn't named after the song. My name is spelled how it's spelled. It's right, simply because it's what it says on my birth certificate.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Casting Shadows - Shameless Self Promotion!

I've mentioned Casting Shadows a few times, but I've gained some followers since, so I thought I'd do a proper post about it.

Casting Shadows is a collection of short stories and poems by Joleen Kuyper (me), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson.

The cover image is based on a photo I took, the fact it looks so good is more down to E.J. Tett than me though, as she did the design!

It was taken in a forest park near where I live. 

It is a collection of short stories (some flash-fiction length, others a bit longer) and poems by Joleen Kuyper (me), E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson.

The book opens with one of my stories, Just the Dust. This is followed by a poem, Monsters, by E.J. Tett, and next a story, Roses, by Jo Robertson. The book follows this format - story->poem->story throughout, alternating between the three authors.

The stories and poems are all dark, though they vary between post-apocalyptic, straightforward horror, dark fantasy and just...dark! Hence the title, Casting Shadows. Shadows are dark!

While all I can really do is write and maybe take an occasional photograph, E.J. Tett has a few more creative talents up her sleeve - including this slideshow, which also features phrases from the equally talented Jo Robertson's spooky introduction to the book.

Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

 Casting Shadows is available to buy from:

And you can also follow Casting Shadows on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook - both good options if you'd like to buy the book, as we'll let you know when there are special offers and promotions taking place!

Casting Shadows has been reviewed twice - and they're both good reviews!

 The blurb from the back of the book:
The smell of roses is sinister rather than sweet. A campfire brings monsters rather than warmth in the woods. Real danger lurks behind the superstitious fear of whistling in the theatre. These are the types of tales contained in this anthology of short stories and poetry by a trio of writers who find their inspiration in darkness: that of night, of the human soul, and of the dangerous things that exist only in the imagination... or do they? Follow the path of darkness if you dare, and be prepared to see danger that lurks under the surface of a calm lake; hear something new and frightening in the sound of a whisper; smell the mystery hidden beneath a cloak of smoke. Be frightened, be intrigued, and enjoy every minute of it as these stories and poems suck you in to the shadows of their dark world.

If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Open markets - Anthologies.

A few anthologies that are currently accepting submissions - worth checking out!

Blood Bound Books - Steamy Screams Anthology

Erotic Horror, 750-5000 words. Payment 3/4c per word. Click the link for more info.

Pill Hill Press - Many Anthologies!

Loads of anthologies here, too many to list them all, some paying, some for the love. Various genres - Pill Hill aren't just about Horror.

Library of the Living Dead (& sister imprints) - Various Anthologies

Click the link and scroll down to see various anthologies accepting submissions. Everything from comedy horror to GLBT sci-fi. Most anthologies pay 1c/word.

Duotrope's Digest: search for short 
fiction & poetry markets
If you're looking for more markets, Duotrope's Digest is my favourite writer's resource.You can adjust the search parameters easily, to search for markets in a particular genre, by payscale, anthologies only, or something like whether the market accepts electronic submissions. I also signed up to Duotrope so I can log my submissions - it helps to have an accurate indication of how long it'll take for editors to respond, so I know when to query.

Also good is Ralan - plenty of markets listed there as well.