Phillip T. Stephens's Blog: Wind Eggs
May 19, 2019
As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?
Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?
The latest anthology by HorrorAddicts.net Press.
[image error] The Kill Switch Anthology available in paper at Amazon featuring my story “Subroutines”
A quick glance at Subroutines
We whispered the warning in third grade. A game. A childhood ritual from a different time, a different dimension. In a universe where children walked unattended to school, the movies, the end of the neighborhood, across traffic, and into the woods where they leaped into the river and rode the running water to the falls miles away.
We whispered the warning when we walked past the weathered stone wall on Manchineel Lane.
You remember the wall, don’t you? The wall under the tree with reddish-grey bark, yellow flowers, and tiny green apples.Twisted limbs creep across the wall and drop the fruits—overripe and rotting—onto the pavement until the city sends someone to trim them.Every year or two they come—wearing long sleeves, leather gloves, and gauze masks. Still, they turn their faces away as they snip, afraid the fruit might touch them.
We whispered the warning when anyone mentioned ghosts and on Halloween when the dogs bayed at the full moon. We whispered the warning and our children whisper it too.
Don’t climb over the wall. Don’t play in the yard. Don’t touch the tree. And never—under any circumstances—enter the house on the other side. The specters will spirit you to the next world and no one will ever see you again.
My mother called it nonsense. An urban legend. A story spread during her childhood, her mother’s, and grandmother’s.
By no means should you enter that house, she said.You’ll fall through the floor and break your leg, but ghosts aren’t real. Neither are portals to Hell. The dead die and dead they remain.
I repeated the warning verbatim the first time my children rushed in, leaving our door swinging on its hinges, eager to tell me about the shadow in the mansion on the other side of the weathered stone wall. The shadow that steals your soul.
I said, “Ghosts aren’t real. The dead stay dead. No one can steal your soul, but don’t cross that wall. Don’t enter that house. It’s two hundred years old and the floor could collapse beneath you. The ceiling could cave in on your head.”
My children entered anyway. Scrambled over the wall, tiptoed through grass taller than them, crossed the threshold, and never returned. We called their friends, scoured the woods, searched the neighborhood grid-by-grid. Only after the story played on the nightly news did their friends admit what they’d done.
It was a dare. That’s all. A dare. Ernest was such a fraidy cat. They could call him chicken till the roosters rose and he’d never take a dare. Grace would laugh at their stupid dares and say, “I dare you back. I’ll hold your hand while you try.”
But that time they took the dare. Into the mansion they went.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to find them,”I said.
“Wait ‘til morning when it’s light,” my business partner said, but he wanted me to finish debugging a security patch. A pernicious subroutine that locked our servers, forcing a system-wide reboot.
My wife, Karen, wasn’t so cautious. “It’s been two days. How long can they stay safe?”
We begged the sheriff to search the house after she found dozens of websites listing people who were murdered or disappeared within its walls. The town’s founder, who killed his family and impaled himself on a pitchfork. The newspaper’s first publisher, who tied one end of a rope to the second-floor stairwell and dove off the bannister into a ballroom filled with inebriated, celebrating socialites on New Year’s Eve. Six different children, six different decades, never seen after entering the house on a dare.
The sheriff stood at his file cabinet, facing away from us. His fingers dawdled at the same three files. The bastard wouldn’t even turn to face us.
“An injunction keeps us off the property.” Even as he spoke, his deputies glanced at the calendar, their shoes, any object in the room but us. They tried to hide their fear, but I read it in every line in their faces. They were grateful for the injunction.
“They’re children,” Karen pleaded. Even if she wore makeup, it wouldn’t have covered the circles under her eyes.
Edited By: Dan Shaurette & Emerian Rich
Stories by: Phillip T. Stephens, H.E. Roulo, Tim O’neal, Jerry J. Davis, Emerian Rich, Bill Davidson, Dana Hammer, Naching T. Kassa, Garrett Rowlan, Daphne Strasert Laurel Anne Hill, Chantal Boudreau, Garth Von Buchholz
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May 9, 2019
I confess. I can’t keep up with social media. There are too few hours in the day. I can write or post. I’d rather write.
I’ve abandoned Facebook, put his blog on the back burner, am toying with Instagram and I feel no guilt. Most of my time is devoted to writing for an existing audience on Medium or submitting to journals. I feel I’ve accomplished more in the process.
As for the blog, I plan to promote other writers’ posts that I think will serve you best. I’ve read eight million blog posts on the seven tips to avoid while I’m doing whatever I’m doing. It makes more sense to share one of those than write eight tips to avoid.
For bloggers and writers who do post to social media, however, the rules constantly change. Facebook and Instagram are about to change them again. Ari Meghlen sheds light on whay you can expect:
What the New Facebook and Instagram Changes Mean for You
(Featured image by Gerd Altmann.)
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December 4, 2018
I returned to Wind Eggs at the request of author April Grey, who organized a blog hop to promote her newest horror anthology, Hell’s Heart. Science Fiction author Alex Binkley agreed to join us to promote his newest novel Ultimate Wizard. I can’t find an eBook sale site, but if you connect with his facebook link on his about page, he will most likely update you. (He has a Twitter feed but it’s not as active).
Let’s hear from Alex:
[image error] Alex Binkley’s latest novel Ultimate Wizard was just released for
The Genesis of Ultimate Wizard
My new novel, Ultimate Wizard, was launched Dec. 3 in my favorite Ottawa bookshop, Books On Beechwood. My first two novels, Humanity’s Saving Grace and its sequel, A Biot’s Odyssey, are science fiction stories. Ultimate Wizard is a blend of science fiction and magic.
However, they all started with thoughts of what if and were driven by a desire to keep the stories as plausible and scientifically accurate as possible. While the first two have space travel and aliens, climate change and another human-like species is the backdrop to Ultimate Wizard.
Although Tolkien did much to put magic and fantasy on the literary landscape, it was the stories of Terry Brooks and Rick Riordan that led me to want to try combining sci-fi and magic, a small genre sometimes called science fantasy. Magic is a force that requires special qualities to connect with but it can provide the right people with a tremendous boost to their own talents. But there are limits on how much a person can use and do with it.
While I hope someday to write a sequel to Ultimate Wizard, there are a few other novels I need to finish first.
The story began as a NaNoWriMo project several years ago. I worked on it until late December that year before putting it aside to marinate while I worked on another story. By early 2018, I knew its time had come. With the help of a great team of beta readers, I prepared it for publication using a printer in Montreal that was new to me. Mag Carson did the cover and prepared the book for publication. I have the e-book and plan to post it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other booksellers.
What should readers expect?
Without giving away the plot, the Ultimate Wizard or she is a long foretold Wizard who would elevate magic to a new level although the ancient Wizards who knew about the prediction have no idea how or when this could happen. Neither did they know about The Realm, engineers, doctors and other men and women around the world who possess skills well beyond their scientific training and natural abilities. They have no explanation for the range of their talents although one of them deduces magic might be an explanation.
They come to understand that magic is a life force but not any form of life they’ve previously encountered. While it can influence them, in the end, it can’t tell them how to act. Their judgment must do that.
They earthquakes, wildfires, volcanoes and other natural disasters afflicting the planet alarm them, but they can’t find the cause despite using their instruments to search deep underground. One member, Judyth, discovers Stuart, an engineer who has similar talents to the members of their group. She must find him and learn the source of his abilities. She’s not the only one searching for him. And he’s just the first surprise.
[image error] Hell’s Heart will warm your winters with the flames of hell.
Just in time for Christmas
There’s no better Christmas gift than a horror anthology that will keep you awake until Santa arrives. It’s how I stayed awake on Christmas Eve when I was a kid. Alas, the bastard always outlasted me. I don’t know how. But I do know my parents drank gallons of coffee on Christmas morning.
Hell’s Heart: 15 Twisted Tales of Love Run Amok, will keep your chocolate warmer than an electric mug. The flames of hell leap from every page. The Fifth Installment in the Hell’s Series delivers fifteen fright-packed stories by horror masters such as Rayne Hall, Jonathan Broughton, Elizabeth Crowens, Oliver Baer, April Grey and me.
1where I can write for several publications and connect with more readers.back
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September 9, 2018
When someone says advice is cheap, you should assume free advice is valueless. Most of that advice is on the Internet in writers’ blogs. And I appreciate the irony since you’re reading one now.
[image error] Image by Martin Finella
Anne Allen shares nine examples of bad advice for new writers. Don’t assume she lists them all.
9 Pieces of Bad Publishing Advice New Writers Should Ignore
August 14, 2018
The most important thing I keep in mind when writing First Person Point of View is that the narrator’s point of view is truly limited. They cannot report what they cannot see or hear. Therefore, I have to be conscious of how they receive the information they report. I once put a (jealous) narrator’s ear to the wall so he could learn what his girlfriend said in another room.
[image error] A first person narrator learns new facts about her lover. (PixHere)
The worst vehicle for conveying information to the reader is a long passage of dialogue from another character explaining events to the narrator. Keep third-hand revelations as brief as possible.
“Jenny’s been seeing Bob.”
“You saw them together?”
That’s all you need. And remember, the information being relayed can be just as unreliable as your narrator’s information.
This is why I love to write in the first person. How can I convey to my reader that the narrator isn’t trustworthy (some readers know this before they pick up the book, others are more naive) and convey the real events to them?
Jean Cogdell shares some tips of her own for writing in the first person.
How to make writing in first-person easier
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May 22, 2018
The team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) recently reformed as Rifftrax. They find older movies and carry on conversations over the film soundtrack.1 They also riff Cornet and other educational films, those terribly produced instructional shorts many of us suffered through in school.
One of my favorites is “How to Keep a Job,” which tells men in their twenties how to hand read a want ad, score an interview and, most importantly, what skills employers expect from their employees.
It made me wonder what job skills employers expect in 2018, so I wrote this article for The Creative Cafe to make sure every reader knows how to keep a job in the third millennium.
The Savvy Employee
1To be honest, they mercilessly mock everything from script to acting to production values to, in the case of the short “Get That Job” the actor’s seventies approach to baldness.back
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April 26, 2018
I struggle with cover letters for short stories (and poetry), especially when I use Submittable. It doesn’t help that I’ve read dozens of articles that provide conflicting advice. Alex Shvartsman, who has edited a number of books and anthologies, including the delightful UFO – Unidentified Funny Objects, offers the best I’ve read: Less is more.
Can you figure out why this wasn’t accepted? (Cory Doctorow)
To find out how much less, check out his blog on short fiction cover letters.
One addition I would make. I dispense with “Dear editor.” If I don’t know the editor’s name, I tend to begin with the opening paragraph. I do, however, close with “Thanks.”
How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter
April 24, 2018
“I Was Abducted by Aliens in a Former Life”
[image error] These markings on the back of the Aztec calendar were proved to be of alien origin.
For years people laughed at my obsession with alien abductions, particularly mine. Particularly my abduction experiences in past lives.
Recently discovered alien holograms1 allowed scholars to translate messages long thought to be undecipherable. The translation of a mysterious inscription on the Aztec calendar proved one of my own accounts dictated to my recovery specialist. It seems the Conquistadors weren’t the only alien invasion of the New World, and this account (by TelécQuxatl, Aztec Prince and one of my former incarnations) reveals the truth behind the sixteenth century encounters.
Five years after my people finished our temple to the great god Quxzcoatl — a pyramid that rose from the slopes of our dormant volcano like a gemstone shining in the sun — two tribes invaded our land. The white tribe from the east called “span-yards” and the gray tribe from the skies called “reti-qu-lns….”
How the Spaniards Saved Us From the Aliens
1Discovered by me during a recent abduction.back
April 21, 2018
I wanted to share a post by Traci Kenworth because she introduces an issue facing artists and writers. Traci writes:
…There was a big argument on Twitter on whether writers with little money should be kept out of publishing. There were those who wondered how writers not being able to pay the $20 PitchWars fee, how could they afford to be on the internet? Basically, they were saying that if you can’t afford to pay, you shouldn’t be trying to write a book or publish it.
I’m not sure Traci interpreted their meaning correctly, but that doesn’t mean their comments shouldn’t give us pause for concern. What they seem to be suggesting is this:
How can these writers say they can’t afford an entry fee when they can pay for an Internet provider?
It’s an argument I’ve heard before in other contexts. My father, for instance: “Why are you asking me for money when you went to the movies yesterday?” It assumes a false equivalency. The dollar I spent on the movie yesterday1 might not compensate for the twenty-dollar fee for the senior trip the school announced today and wants tomorrow. Or pay for the gas I need after my sister borrowed my car to drive to San Antonio without refilling.
As Traci points out, the lack of money can cripple young writers in countless ways. Entry fees add up, internet connections cost money as do cloud storage fees to back up their work. I can afford to write only because my wife’s retirement allows me the luxury of time.2 I don’t feel the pressure of money that other writers do. But I try to empathize with them. Which is why I’m sharing Traci’s post with you:
Should Writers with Little Money be Kept Out of Publishing?
1Hard to believe movies only cost a dollar when I was in high school.back
2My own adjunct professor’s salary does not, even combined with Social Security.back
check out my books at Amazon
March 15, 2018
Fans of The Bezine haven’t seen it for a while. Jaime Dede’s volunteer online journal devoted to spirituality decided to shift publication to quarterly releases. This will allow them time to recuperate and most likely improve the content. The wait ended with their March release, featuring Michael Dickel’s defense of activist poetry, beattitudes and poetry by Wendy Brown Baez, Paul Brookes and Edward Lee.
Oh, and me too.
[image error] The March 2018 issue of the BeZine celebrates the act of waging peace.
Don’t miss this landmark issue dedicated to the theme of Waging Peace.
As much as I admire Plato I think the wind eggs exploded in his face and that art and literature have more to tell us, because of their emotional content, than the dry desert winds of philosophy alone. ...more
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