Announcing Our Latest Contest!

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It’s here, at long last… our latest  anthology!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, StarkLight Press is saluting all brave, iconoclastic, fearless, intrepid women throughout history with a set of short stories about them!

We are accepting applications for this unique exercise in writing, only available at StarkLight Press. Send your email and a brief bio to us at starklightdesk@gmail.com by March 1, 2016.

Within forty-eight hours, we will contact the winning applicants with their famous historical woman and a quality… and our writers will craft gripping fiction from those two words!

Final submissions will be between 3000-8000 words and will be due April 18, 2016.

Send in your bio to starklightdesk@gmail.com today before all the spaces are filled for this remarkable anthology!

 

Blue Moon Season Short Story Contest

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Just in time to celebrate the Blue Moon of the 2016 spring season, StarkLight Press is introducing its latest short story contest!

Stories about were-wolves, were-animals (of innovative kinds), were-objects, were-anything are welcomed to this submission section. In addition any evocative stories about the mysterious occurrences that transpire during full or blue moons, originally penned myths or legends of a lunar nature are welcomed.

Submissions should be between 3000-8000 words and submitted along with a brief author’s bio in .doc or .odt format to starklightdesk@gmail.com

Submission deadline is May 20, 2016.

We welcome any poetry or flash fiction on the same subjects!

You can find the manuscript submission guidelines here:

Manuscript Submissions

 

Quality Time with L.E. Caine

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L.E. “Leanne” Caine is a recalcitrant author who has submitted some truly remarkable work to StarkLight Press. Her classic tale of a LoveBot who gets self-determined during Valentine’s Day is no exception.

Leanne Caine is from Kamloops, British Columbia. She has been a ghost writer for a number of years. Recently, she has started working under her own name and has published in various magazines as well as from Starklight Press. Her day job is in the world of customer service which is why she generally avoids all human contact when not at work. She has a young daughter who is the center of her world. Other than that she is a practicing pagan and eccentric witch. She practices herbology and has a garden that she has learned to use intensively to provide safe, healthy vegetables and herbs for her and her daughter.

You can read an excerpt of her story for Hearts Asunder here:

He put it on and I traced the profile of the woman on the cameo with my fingertips. I had glanced at her briefly but I pulled up the details in my inner screen and looked at the optic footage again. She was a lady, her head held high and her bearing one of dignity.

“Thank you, Del, it’s nearly perfect.” It was more somber than anything else I owned, my belongings were few and mostly designed for the bedroom. It was a grown up thing too. Oddly respectful of the man who had given me a ‘Mrs. Clause’ Corset and panty set with Santa hat for Christmas a few months before.

“Nearly?” He went and got another bottle of wine. He liked fine wine but always struggled with getting the cork out.

“Yes, I had imagined for a moment that it would be a ring,” I said.

He stopped his struggle to look at me, “You thought I was asking you to marry you?” He asked, his voice shocked.

“I didn’t really, because you only think of me of a thing, but I had hoped, just for a minute, that maybe you loved me.” I returned to my now cold lobster tail. It was nearly plucked clean now anyway but it was my new favorite food.

 

Leanne answered our interview questions below:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    So many. I’m a single mom and honestly so jaded by the dating scene, I hate it. I’m not saying that I will never have a meaningful relationship, but I am thinking it. Seriously, I’ve met so many nuts out there that after a point I have to wonder how anyone is ever compatible ever. I had one guy break into my house in some sort of ‘grand gesture’ and scare the hell out of daughter. Thank gods he was just a needy freak and not a knife wielding psycho, or lobster fork wielding psycho.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    Because love sucks. It gets you all excited and if it fails it’s already that they’ve ripped your heart out and thrown it at feet. How to explain that to someone who has never experienced it?? You almost wish they’d kill you if you actually fall in love and then they leave you. Love is a horror story waiting to happen, writing one was more a matter of ‘which one’ than of finding inspiration for it.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    Blind dates. Or just dates. I’ve been on so many and yes, I have had violent fantasies about doing horrible things to the person who just ate my evening. Fortunately I’ve written them down to avoid doing hard jail time (I’ve got a daughter to think about).

    If you’ve gone on a bad date you know how it is. You have the awkward. You have the weird. You have the sudden declarations of the bizarre, frightening or messed the hell up. I think that dating is traumatizing and to deal with it I’ve had to learn to disassociate. It’s not healthy.

    I’ve felt this way on dates, I’ve felt like a robot on dates, I’ve felt like a cake on a platter waiting to be gobbled up by the wolf across the table from me.

 

Will Norton: Roughneck, Writer, Historian

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William Norton grew up in Vancouver B.C. and has spent the past few years working in the oil industry north of Fort Saint John. He usually writes stories that are uniquely and specifically from his perspective, his characters often share his name. He writes when he has time but spends most of his time working and being filthy. His hobbies include sleeping when he’s not working. Based off the current trend. he suspects he will soon have more time for writing and social media than in the past- which would be great if he didn’t have truck payments.

 

In addition to writing, Will enjoys looking into the history behind our current holidays, customs and society. It was through his researches that he developed his story for Hearts Asunder, which is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the death of St. Valentine. Here’s an excerpt:

 

September had wandered into October by this time and Constantine treated Valentine as he would one of his own sons. He was impressed by the boy’s quick mind and envious of his charisma. Boniface had been charismatic as well and the boy orated and lectured in his father’s cadences. Valentine wasn’t the only one sending letters. Constantine had sent letters to Boniface, telling him of his sons poor situation and the fate that the one god had felt fit to thrust upon him. Boniface agreed to take him back as his heir if Constantine could get rid of the boy’s silly notions and get him agree to come home and to marry.

In a fit of genius Constantine negotiated with Boniface that Valentine would take his blind daughter has his bride if he succeeded in returning Boniface’s only son and heir to him. Constantine could see how badly Boniface missed his son when the man agreed to this term. If Constantine could only show Valentine the error of his ways, all would be well.

Lucy had noticed Julie’s prowess at finding her way around but even she underestimated how well Julie could find her way through her home when she chose.

It was late in October and her infatuation had increased. She had many conversations with Valentine and knew he was obsessed with the one god but she still wanted him for her own. Much of their conversations had been about the man on the cross. Valentine feeling that if he could convince the daughter he would have someone to help him convince Constantine to come around to the true faith.

The conversations bored her but his voice was what she listened to, not his words. Other times he would sit in the garden with her and they would talk about the flowers. He taught her to name them by touch, taking her small, childlike hands in his to guide her to their petals. He described their beauty and their colors, laughing at himself when he discovered how hard it was to explain these things to someone who had no sight.

He took to comparing them to textures. Pale blue was the cold water from the well and dark blue was the warm water of a bath. Red was the stones around the hearth. Brown was the feel of the bark of an olive tree.

Will also answered our interview questions:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    I’m not sure if you’d call it a horror story, more misplaced intentions and a lot of ‘can’t believe my good luck’ and then shit went down. I met this girl at a local bar, took her home with me and she stuck around. I was pretty excited when I found out that having girl in the house meant I got sex way more than without girl in house. Having made this realization I made to effort to make her leave and then left for the bush. This happened a few more times and then one time I came home and we had been together long enough to be considered common-law. I was only at home for three weeks of the six months but never mind that. Legally she could claim we were ‘married’. I came home out of the bush and found all my stuff on the front lawn and she called the cops on me when I tried to come in and find out what the hell was going on. That was the most expensive girl I ever met at a bar and I still have to pay her some of my pay check. Bitch. (I hope she reads this because I’m petty), is this a horror story? With the oil industry slow down it’s sure starting to be. I miss my house.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

Trust. Like I said up above. You trust someone, I don’t pretend that I loved her. She was a girl I met at the bar and she did things to my body that I liked. Stupid. That’s it, love makes us stupid and because we all forgive stupidity in the name of love we are more stupid than usual.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

I almost wrote a vicious story about my ‘ex’ but then this idea was suggested to me by Leanne Caine. The cover for the book was screaming out for someone to write this story and for some crazed reason she thought of me. This story was completely out of my comfort zone, usually I write up close first person and the lead character is always just me letting my imagination and fear get free reign for what could happen or might be. Leanne’s cute though so I said I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did it but I hope people are forgiving of my many historical inaccuracies and other mistakes. I took a lot of liberties with a legend that has almost no information about it. I don’t know much about 5th century Rome and did a lot of research that a half-assed historian could probably poke a lot of holes in.

Maybe one day I’ll work on a more accurate version but my goal with this was to breathe life into a story that is so dusty and uncertain that even the catholics gave up on it as an official part of their calendar. I hope people will enjoy it for the story’s sake because in the end that’s what I did. It’s not meant to be a history of the era, just a story and I hope people can enjoy it that way.

Virginia Carraway Stark Chats about Tentacles and Romance

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The illustrious Virginia Carraway Stark is a prolific and popular author with a plethora of short stories and novels to her name. She turns her attention- and her pen- to the idea of romantic getaways with a Lovecraftian twist in her short story for Hearts Asunder.

Here’s a disturbingly titillating excerpt from Willows’ Corner:

He was against one of the filter output jets and the water pushed against him in a pleasing way. Elphonse smiled again and put her arms around him and the her legs wrapped firmly around him. If it wasn’t for his shorts he would have been inside her. She kissed him, he returned her ardor. Damn, he was starting to think he wasn’t going to get laid at all this Valentine’s weekend, at least that part was turning around.

He tried to wriggle out of her intensely strong grip to undo the velcro fly of his swimshorts but she held him too tightly to move. He wanted her so badly but the layer of material between them was driving him nuts. He was so caught up in the problem of his swimshorts that he almost didn’t notice that there was a second pair of legs wrapped around him, or something that felt much like legs. He looked into the murk of the dimly lit water and saw the pink and purple tentacles that started at Elphonse’s waist and made up the lower half of her body. One small tentacle crawled up his swim trunks and he shuddered, he shuddered and pulled away but what the tentacle sought and found was hard and ready.

Solomon Burke continued his song and Elphonse started to sing to him as she toyed with him:
You see now what you’ve caused
And I know just what I lost
And I know what the price
I paid, I paid, I paid
For loving someone like you

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    Yes. Yes in so many ways. I’m prone to stalkers and some strange people have come after me. One of the creepiest ones that isn’t a whole long story all on its own was a guy who drew pictures of some demon he said was following him and made him do bad things sometimes. There were swords and apparently his dad and his friends dressed up in robes and did things sometimes. I made sure not to be alone with him much after that. I felt like I was one dimension away from things getting really nutso.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    People who love you will do anything for you, I mean anything. People have a weird and twisted idea of both what the ‘anything’ might be and what love is. Love is intimately connected to the idea of possessing someone and having ownership of them. Love gives us all a sense of belonging and for people who things don’t go right for or for people who came with faulty wiring this can go from, ‘I love you, I brought you roses,’ to, ‘why are you trying to leave, I want to be inside your skin’.

    Love is the most powerful emotion we feel (I think) and it lives on a teeter-totter with hatred. If you try to jump off your end when someone has you on this teeter totter they hit the ground with a tooth jarring pound of hatred.

    It’s not just love that we’re talking about here either, it’s eroticism. Sex has always been associated with death. The idea of the orgasm being le petite mort. Like a sword he penetrates her and yet she does not die. The imagery of this is the basis for endless ‘secret’ brotherhoods and springs in the modern era from Crowley. The idea of penetration equaling death is an old one and it speaks powerfully to you no matter your gender. In my story it was the man who got penetrated, these things happen and for many it is understandably the greatest horror of all.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    I didn’t really have an inspiration for mine except that I got it into my head that a couple should have a horrific experience at a bed and breakfast. Those places kind of creep my out, the idea of walking into a strangers home and having no clue what sort of experience you’re going to have is akin to picking up hitch hikers in my mind. In fact, it’s more frightening because it’s in their demense. Who knows what traps or horrors they could set up for you in there? Maybe it would just be bed bugs and an unhygienic kitchen, I think I’d rather stay in a hostel than go to a B and B. I’m a private person and wouldn’t want strangers in my house and then be made to make breakfast for them. It seems like the sort of person who would be into that would be likely to have an ulterior motive.

    BUT in all honesty I have heard nothing but good feedback about B and Bs. I have friends who use them and plan entire trips skipping from one to the next and say they have the loveliest time you could imagine. I think probably my brain did the writer thing where it threw the ‘what if’ into the mix and I’m thinking the worst of a group of people who are some of the most social, extroverted morning people on the planet.

    Perhaps there should be a name for a fear of Bed and Breakfasts… or maybe there already is one. I’ll get back to you on that, whatever it is, I think I have that phobia.

Alex Benitez Opens Up

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Alex Benitez is a thirty year old traveling trainer of a trendy Tex-mex restaurant and a father of a beautiful eight year old girl. He was born in Massachusetts and moved with his family to Sanford Florida when he was eighteen. Throughout his life, Alex had been developing stories as a fun pass time and as a small child would physically act them out in the privacy of his bedrooms. It wasn’t until Alex was 25 did he realize his true calling of writing after he finished his scifi/comedy novel, Rose Star Runners. Alex thinks of himself as a story-teller more than a writer as he has a full bank of stories he needs to tell, but has had no formal training in writing whatsoever. In the near future, Alex plans to publish the second installment of the five part Rose Star Runners series, finish writing the third Rose Star Runners installment, and finish a horror thriller titled High Tower Black. He also, has endless projects stacked up behind those.

Rose Star Runners Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Rose-Star-Runners-213137375375559/?fref=ts

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From his short story for Hearts Asunder:

 

My finger moved! It was just a smidgen, but I had just managed to wiggle one of my fingers. This means whatever drugs causing my paralysis are wearing off. Even though my head feels as heavy as cement, I am able to arch my neck so I can look down at my body.

Both my legs have been severed off from above the knee. I already knew the right one was gone, but the left one is new to me. The unclean stumps are turning new shades of red, black, green and purple as the infection sets in. Belts have been fastened tightly around the rim of the stumps to prevent me from bleeding out. I’m not intended to die yet. I can see blood trickling to the ground off the work bench from the viciously open wounds. I realize some of the droplets I hear is my own blood hitting the floor.

The sack flails around for a moment and my skull slams against the bench. The weight of my head was growing far too heavy and I just couldn’t hold it up any longer. I try to calm myself and continue to mentally recount the events that brought me here.

 

Alex took a few moments out to answer our interview questions:

1.) Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

I’d say yes. I think everyone has. Every failed relationship has to have some type of horror tied to it or it’d be a successful relationship. As for a homicidal story as extreme as the one I wrote. No, I haven’t been that lucky yet.

2.) What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination?

I believe it’s because they’re the complete polar opposites of the emotional spectrum. Love is supposed to be the greatest force of good, and horror just means evil. To do evil because of love is a very twisted and fascinating concept. Whoever is committing horrors over love has a great emotional range to explore.

3.) What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentine’s Day Horror story?

A Japanese horror movie called The Audition. You want to know how, read the story, watch the movie.

 

Laura Callender: Publisher, Writer, Champion of Collaborative Fiction

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Based on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Laura Callender is a remarkable and talented young author. In addition to her short story for Hearts Asunder, she has a number of different writing-related concerns that add a great deal of positivity to the writing community.
As the founder of CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge), and the newly launched publishing company, CW Publishing House, Laura has mainly been focused on developing her concept of bringing writers together to produce full-length fiction novels. She gets very little time to write at the moment but can’t resist contributing to some fun anthologies. Laura has published one children’s book and has two more on the way. She also has 2 short stories published in anthologies along with Chapters in ‘The Concierge’, the first CWC novel. You can connect with Laura using the following links:
Twitter: @CollaborativeWC

 

 

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Here’s an excerpt from her story:
 
Natalie’s phone rang numerous times before it caught her attention. She grabbed her purse from the floor in front of the passenger seat and blinked at the dancing screen. Shania was calling her, and Natalie realized she’d already missed eight calls. Her phone read eight o’clock.
“Shit, shit, shit, I’m sorry,” Natalie whispered into the phone. “I felt a bit funny and stopped for a rest. Shit. I’m on my way. Okay!”
“I’m already at the bar,” Shania said. “I just assumed you got stuck at work and would come straight here.”
“No, damn. I’m not ready at all. I’ll just have to get ready in the car. Is Joe there yet?” 
Shania giggled. “He’s here. He’s been watching the door a lot, too, so you better make an entrance.”
“Copy that,” Natalie said playfully before hanging up.
She pulled down the visor and checked her face in the tiny mirror. She noticed the few tiny, reds dots on her forehead and tried to scan the rest of herself in the dark, desperately willing the broken interior light to come on. Her hands smelled like pumpkin spice soap—something she didn’t use and would never buy. 
Rummaging through her overnight bag, she pulled out a hair brush and some makeup. Her dress hung on the tiny hook behind her, so she quickly slipped out of her clothes and wiggled into it in the tiniest space possible. Considering how disorientated and confused she felt, Natalie looked down at her perfectly manicured, crimson nails and felt good. She felt strong and refreshed, like she had a new source of energy coursing through her.
 
Laura took the time to answer our anthology interview questions, as well.
1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life? 
 
I have too many, I’m one of those sad cases that was unlucky in love until I met my husband in 2011. I’ve come to think of love as the original horror story. We give another person our blood, sweat and tears and it’s a gamble. I sometimes think humans were not meant to have relationships, just procreate and surround ourselves with good honest people. Family as we now know it is a very scary thing indeed. But, I personally love being in a marriage, and growing everyday with someone. I truly hope I never get to the point of wanting to cut out my husbands heart like my MC would do!
 
2. What do you find makes the mix of love and horror such a potent combination?
 
Love is scary. You have to make yourself vulnerable and you have to be willing to receive the affection and attention offered. I could draw the obvious comparison, of hearts and blood, which undoubtedly does make it easier to find a good bloody angle to write from–but I would say it’s ultimately the tragedy of love that makes it such an inviting horror story.
3. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?
It started with the idea that a psychic would predict a horrifying future for someone. The story really just flowed from there. The killer became a female, which I didn’t expect, and then she became the victim herself. As the story developed I was really pleased with the concept. I wish I found it easier to write gore, but in this story, it’s the subtle meaning behind everything that makes it chilling.