Archive for Fiction

STUFFING – Flash Fiction

Posted in Free Fiction with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by brandonlayng

STUFFING

By Brandon Layng

Ted pulled himself out of the heap of garbage and toys. His young friend, Garrett, had moved out and left him homeless. He scanned the street to the south. Then the north. Downtown was in that direction, probably his best bet for finding what he needed.

Food topped his list. He felt emptied out inside. If he was going to survive and have any hope of being taken into a new home, he had to eat and fill himself out.

Get cuddly.

Get clean.

Get a home.

In that order.

The journey to downtown was fraught with peril. He dodged cars, their eyes like searchlights pinpointing him with their stare. A big slab of black and brown muscle, Ted thought it might be a mutated dog, with a spiked collar chased him for a block and a half. The dog must have gotten loose from a yard, three links of chain hung off the collar.

He managed to lose the dog by climbing into a dumpster, but not before his leg was nearly ripped from his hip. After twenty minutes had passed, he poked his head over the lip of metal bin. The Rottweiler/Hellhound mix was waiting patiently.

A scruffy tabby wandered into the alley, did a double-take at the dog, realized its mistake and made a beeline into traffic – the dog hot on its tail.

Trouble gone, it occurred to Ted that food might be right under his butt if he actually looked for it. He scanned the pile, deciding on a place to start. A black spot buzzed in front of his eyes. He swatted at the noisome fly with a paw. He enjoyed the splat as the pest connected with the inside of the dumpster.

Bracing against the metal rim, he began rummaging through the heap of trash. His nub of a tail twitched as he rooted around crumpled bank statements and left-over Chinese food.

Buried underneath a computer monitor, his black eyes spied the treasure he’d been digging for. Well, not quite the thing he’d hoped to find – a nice synthetic cotton blend would be nice – but it was good enough.

He popped the pink insulation into his mouth and hopped down to the pavement.

With a smile on his terry cloth face, Ted adjusted his bowtie and skipped to the alley’s mouth.

The insulation left him stuffed, and it would surely itch on the way.

All he had to do now, was find a carwash or birdbath, then place himself in the path of a kid. He’d be home free.

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If you enjoyed this little tale feel free to post a comment. Hopefully, I’ll have some more flash fiction pieces like this I can put on the site in the future. If I get enough of a response I’ll make sure to keep posting them while I send others off into the submissions pile.

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A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 16.1

Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by brandonlayng

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 16.1

The Books that Started it ALL

I won’t say it’s true for all writers (exception to every rule and all that jazz) but most writers can pinpoint a single book as the one that inspired them to write. I’ve heard all kinds of inspiration stories from my friends and peers. Children’s book writers wanting to capture the joy of hearing Dr. Suess read to them as a youngling. Horror writers hiding under the covers terrifying themselves with their first scary book. Or the writer so unimpressed with a horribly written book they are inspired to write something better.

We all have a story about the first book that made us want to write. More often than not, those same books have an influence on what we write. And it seems that for authors who write in certain genres, they can often share the same book or writer as their initial influence.

I credit a few books and writers on changing the course of my journey to becoming a full-time writer. But the one that made me say, “I want to be a writer”, is No Change, Please by Gordon Korman. Korman will probably be familiar to Canadians more than Americans or UK readers. Korman began his writing career at a very young age, barely into his teens he began with his Bruno & Boots books. The first in the series was This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! begun during a semester in the 7th grade. His English teacher encouraged him to finish the book, which was published by Scholastic along with many of his 55 books that followed.

My grade 5 teacher was reading No Change, Please to the class and explained to us how Korman started his journey to the book we were hearing. That was the moment. Right there. Being told that a kid roughly the same age as me had written a book and had it published, inspired me to try and do the same. Well, I didn’t. I wasn’t published until I was in grade 8 and it was a short story in the photocopied school newspaper. I followed that up with a few poems in different issues of that paper and a couple more short stories and poems in highschool Writers’ Guild anthologies.

But I’d been bitten by the bug.

For this part of A Writer’s Journey, I decided to ask some of my peers to share their stories about the book that inspired them to write. They were all asked the same question and I was amazed by their responses. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Maybe you’ll find a book in their answers that will inspire you to write your own book. Or possibly you’ll take the time and read something by the authors themselves and find that spark you’re looking for.

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Zoe E. Whitten

Website http://www.zoewhitten.com/

The first book to make me want to be a writer was Stephen King’s It. His characters were so real, and I wanted to create people just as flawed and believable.

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David Dunwoody

Website http://daviddunwoody.com/

I think I’ve wanted to write since I was 10 or so. Around that time I wrote a story called “The Lost Souls” (recently updated as the novella “Lost Souls” for THE UNDEAD: HEADSHOT QUARTET). At that time I was reading Louis Sachar and Roald Dahl, but I don’t believe they were as much of a direct inspiration as what I wasn’t allowed to read – the King books in my parents’ bookshelf, books my older sister had told me about and at which I sneaked peeks whenever I was home alone. It was more than likely IT that did it for me, as that’s the only one I can recall with clarity. I didn’t read the entire novel until I was in my twenties, and it is one of my favorite books today, if not my #1. As a kid, I think the mystique and taboo of the book was as affecting as what I actually glimpsed in its pages (and what I did glimpse was wonderful and scary and definitely left an impression). Between its title – emblazoned in giant blood-red letters on the hardcover – and the fact I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near it, the book took on a mythic quality which only drew me more to it and to that genre. I really do have my parents to thank for getting me into writing horror. I don’t think they’d take that too hard.

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Mark Leslie (Lefebvre)

Website http://markleslie.blogspot.com/

Wow. That’s a tough one. When I first heard the question I thought, oh, cool question – now what book was it for me? And then I realized that I couldn’t be 100% sure. Why? Because I’m pretty sure I wanted to become a writer long before I actually started typing out stories on my typewriter which was in my early teens. Of course, it was many years after when I started sending my stories out to publishers (which is often what I think about when I think about becoming a writer). But to be true to wanting to become a writer, it goes back even earlier than my teen years, it goes back to even before I wrote long prose tales. When I was a boy, I loved to draw cartoons; to tell stories via a combination of words and images. Before that, I remember creating epic adventures with either my Lego figures or my Fisher Price figures, compiling long complex plot adventures that would last weeks in short episodic segments.
And throughout all that time, there were a lot of books I read, many of which likely provided me inspiration to want to tell my own tales, produce my own stories.

So, nailing down a specific single book that inspired me to become a writer is a challenge indeed. I mean, if I go back far enough, it was likely a comic book (likely a poignany story told by Stan Lee about a young outcast teenager with the proportional strength, speed and agility of a spider) that inspired me to want to write my own tales. Later on in my childhood, it might have been one of Lester del Rey’s novels such as Marooned on Mars or Tunnel Through Time. In my early teens, there were books such as George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides that I remember enjoying so much and wanting to write my own post-apocalyptic tale.

And when I first pulled out my Mom’s Underwood typewriter and started seriously hammering out tales, Piers Anthony was a writer whose science fiction and fantasy novels I was avidly consuming. The use of my pseudonym of “Mark Leslie” was derived from reading about how this particular author’s full name was Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob and he simply sliced off the extra names to get a “writer’s handle” that was easier to say and spell.

But in a nutshell, it might seem like a cop-out to the question, but it seems as if books have always inspired me to be a writer – and the books I read today continue to inspire me to write. When I was young and I read a tale that I marvelled at, that tickled my imagination, I would set forth and want to write my own story that would do the same thing for other readers. And when I write today, it’s not without that part of my mind that conjures up the feeling I get when I read a great story or book.

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Amy Grech

Website http://www.crimsonscreams.com

When I was twelve, an aunt gave me a copy of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Being at a very impressionable age, I devoured the entire novel in one sitting! King’s haunting portrait of an All-American family facing evil sparked my imagination—that’s when I knew I wanted to become a writer!

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I’d like to thank all of the writers for taking the time to answer.

I’ll be coming back to this question again. Hopefully you’ll join me for the second half of this part of A Writer’s Journey.

Until next time, keep writing!

One of the BEST days

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by brandonlayng

What do you say when a writer you have the utmost respect for, that the genre has the utmost respect for, tells you he thinks the first half of your unpublished book is good? Yeah, sure you say “thank you”. Or you can smile like an idiot and jump around like I did. Because I haven’t yet revealed who’s reading the book and since I didn’t ask his permission I can’t give out names or go into too many details (Updated below post). I’m just too damned happy to keep my mouth shut about my excitement. I have spill some of it.

Before I talk about what was said, I want to talk about the author in question. He’s written some of the most innovative horror I’ve ever read. He continually amazes me with each book I read. His fiction has made me laugh, turned my stomach and want to jump in the pages to kick some ass. He’s one of my top favorite horror authors. So any praise from him, means a great deal to me. It’s that validation we’re all looking for. You want to hear from someone who’s been there and still doing it, that you have what it takes too.

He’s not done reading the manuscript yet, and I’ve got fingers crossed his opinion doesn’t turn sour on it before the end, but… seriously, he’s already made my year. The only thing that could top it would be being able to send him a copy of the published book with one of my wishlist of publishers’ names on the spine.

To top off all the great things he said about the book, he made me feel like a writer. There’s always talk about the lonely writer sitting in a dark basement plugging out words nobody is going to read. Well, a lot of days in front of the laptop, I feel like that. Today, I didn’t feel like that. And I probably never will again. Thanks to him. So if you’re one day reading a copy of “A Walk Amongst the Dead”, be sure to drop him a line and tell him thank you again (for me, and you, if you like the book) right after you read his introduction to the book. He’s offered to write one and I want to take him up on that offer, hopefully future publishers will see it my way and put it in.

I rank this one of the best days of my life. So far.

I’m not done writing you know.

*After asking if it was okay to post his name, he said it was okay. I’m very honored to say the author of roughly 60 published books, Grand Master Stoker Award-winning author, who is reading “A Walk Amongst the Dead”, is none other than… Ray Garton! If you don’t know who he is and you’re a fan of Horror, you should be ashamed of yourself. March out or log onto Amazon and buy one of his books today. He writes some of the craziest, scariest, most twisted stuff out there. His book “Lot Lizards” recently went into reprints through e-Reads.com buy a copy HERE It’s a good place to start. Then move onto Live Girls, Bestial, Ravenous, Nightlife, The Loveliest Dead, Dark Channel and many more you’re sure to enjoy them all.

ANNOUNCEMENTS 06/11/2010

Posted in Announcements with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2010 by brandonlayng

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these. It’s not my fault, honestly, I’ve been very, very, very, busy. Guilt is a powerful emotion. I haven’t had the time lately to contact the regular people, I contact for a thing such as this, so guilt has driven me to search out the info myself by invading their websites and blogs, scavenging for info on what the future holds.

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GRAVESIDE TALES: Okay this one isn’t so hard. I’m on their site all the time, since I run the newsletter and my own novel Angel’s Crossing is sponsored by GST (psst! You can sign up to receive my e-serial at http://www.gravesidetales.com by joining The Gravesider mailing list). October marked the release of two great books from GST: Huffer by Michael J Hultquist and Carnival of Fear by JG Faherty.

Huffer sneak peek click here http://gravesidetales.com/free-reads/a-sneak-peek-at-huffer/
Carnival of Fear sneak peek click here http://gravesidetales.com/free-reads/a-sneak-peek-at-carnival-of-fear/
BUY THE BOOKS click here http://www.gravesidebooks.com

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BELFIRE/NEEDFIRE PRESS: Jodi Lee and her wonderful staff over at Belfire/Needfire Press have a whole lot of goodness going on.

The White Faced Bear by R. Scott McCoy, has just been released and is bound to be a hit. To find out more, click here http://belfirepress.com/main/happy-release-day-r-scott-mccoy/

Orpheus & The Pearl – Nevermore, the first of Belfire’s Duel Novellas series with two stories, one by Kim Paffenroth and the other by David Dunwoody. This is one I personally can’t wait to get my hands on. To find out more, click here http://belfirepress.com/main/our-titles/orpheus-nevermore/

A Mouth for Picket Fences by Barry Napier, a poetry collection full of wicked snippets you’re sure to enjoy. To find out more, click here http://belfirepress.com/poetry/?p=149

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SCOTT NICHOLSON’S Disintegration is now available! Scott Nicholson explores the bonds of family and the history that is sometimes best left in the past in his newest psychological thriller. Find out more, click here http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/disintegration.htm

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TOM PICCIRILLI has a new book to keep an eye out for in early 2011, The Last Kind Words will be released by Bantam Books. In the meantime slake your thirst for his fiction by picking up a copy of Shadow Season. To find out more, click here http://www.tompiccirilli.com/index.htm

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DOUGLAS CLEGG The Saddest Little Zombie: A Christmas Tale is available to subscribers of Clegg’s newsletter. Make sure to sign up at http://www.douglasclegg.com to get a chance to read this creepy tale by the author of Neverland and Isis. You also don’t want to miss the illustrations done by Glenn Chadbourne. Find out more, click here http://douglasclegg.com/blog/

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That’s it for this edition of Announcements. Until next time, whenever that may be.

Take care,

Brandon

Zombie Fic Fun

Posted in Announcements, Free Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by brandonlayng

My flash piece, “The Last Concert” is up at Tales of the Zombie War. I had a great time writing it and I’d like you to have a great time reading it. Even when the dead rise and begin eating people Rock and Roll will never die. It’s a free concert so head on over and enjoy the show.

http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2010/10/01/the-last-concert-by-brandon-layng/

I’d love it if you left a comment to let me know what you thought of it.

Brandon

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 15

Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , on October 4, 2010 by brandonlayng

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 15
For Want of a Better Word, It’s a Room

By Brandon Layng

Where do you go when you write? At one point in time I went to coffee shops and pubs alternately but that was before my health situation stepped in and permanently fixed my alcoholism issues at the same time it said coffee would be a thing of my past. I wrote over half of my unpublished novel “Sin in Skin” in those places. It was begun for NaNoWriMo (if you’re a writer who doesn’t know what NaNoWriMo is, you need to get educated on it before November 1st) and I completed my required 50K in a 9K burst over two days, headphones on and coffee or Strongbow cider in hand. I’ve added 40K of words since then but that was my last coffee shop/pub book.

I moved on back home with my writing. My mom became very sick with cancer (miss her dearly, bless her wonderful soul) and I needed to be close since my wife and I were taking care of her with the help of a few caring family members and two amazing nurses. I took my laptop to the basement when the kids were awake and causing a fuss. I put headphones on or watched a movie with my wife while I wrote on my clunky out-dated PC.

My mom passed and finances required my family to move from the home we lived in for four years together. We’re in a little white house, closer to the countryside, which is where I’ve always wanted to be. Here I write in the basement. It’s probably the least temperature controlled area of the house. I’m surrounded by shelves, but mostly boxes, of books.

Those books are waiting for something.

The rooms we write in in the real world are far different from the ones in our heads. The imaginary ones can be more physical to us while writing.

I can sit in a park and so long as I can find a way to escape through the door of the room in my head I can write anything almost anywhere. It’s harder to find the door when I have screaming kids and even screaming adults running amok in my vicinity, which means there’s many times I end up with a migraine just trying to find the key that fits in the wrought-iron keyhole fitted absurdly in the wall between seams in the wallpaper. The door to my room, in the house in my mind would ideally be invisible to everyone but me. On the other side exists a sound-proofed room, a library, wall-to-wall shelves filled to over-flowing with books of all shapes, sizes and ages. I need those books, it’s where everything I ever learned is stored along with all the things I hope to learn. Sometimes my room has a window. Sometimes it does not. The desk reminds of the old wooden teacher’s desks that sat at the front of the class when I was a wee small kid. Four drawers; two small up top and two bigger ones beneath, two to a side. There is a banker’s lamp with rounded shade on top, with a yellow-white bulb (not one of these weird looking too-bright energy-saver wads of dung). There are two chairs, great cushy winged-back chairs, not leather but soft suede and dark brown like the ottomans in front of them, their wooden legs cherry-stained nearly black and table between them. The chairs face a fieldstone fireplace – a real one, not gas – with warm hearth fire burning. The room, my room, smells of paper and wood smoke. Next to the scent of a woman is there any two greater smells in the world?

You need a room to go to. You probably already have one. I’m always curious about the rooms other writers runaway to when they’re getting the words out. You head to the gym to work out your anger. You slink off to the bathroom to push the poop out. You disappear into the room in your head to write the story out.

While you’re in there, your spouse has walked into the room your body physically occupies and begins talking to you. It could be that they are asking what kind of cookies you think they should whip up for the kid’s school bake sale. Or they could be asking you to take a look at the pimple on their butt to find out if you think it looks cancerous. Maybe it’s one of those kids you remember having, the ones in the picture on your desk who won’t be able to make their next braces adjustment appointment if you don’t hurry up and sell something so you can afford the outrageous fees. The kid is probably asking if they can borrow the car and you automatically say “yes” because your body is running on auto-pilot while your mind plays in its room. An hour later, you recall that your kid is twelve and doesn’t even have a learner’s permit. Thank God your spouse caught that one as the car backed down the driveway.

My point is this:

While my books and I can’t wait to move into the real version of the room in my head, I have to remind myself that right now it’s still a part of my imagination. I can make it a reality one day, but I don’t want to arrive at that point in my life to discover the rest of the house is empty.

You don’t want to spend all of your time hiding away – alone – creating your magnificent art to step out one day and find you’re still alone in reality.

I get caught up in so many great ideas, they won’t stop, and I feel myself swept away by them on their surging waves while my family waves and calls to me from the shore. They’ve been knocking on the door trying to catch my attention.

Take time to remind yourself there is a life outside the place you go to in your head, because after all it’s just a room.

ANGEL’S CROSSING A GRAVESIDE TALES E-SERIAL

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by brandonlayng

My novel, ANGEL’S CROSSING, is being sponsored by Graveside Tales publishing as a newsletter exclusive e-serial. The GRAVESIDER Newsletter is free, filled with the latest info on one of the small press’ best publishers and now comes with a FREE novel straight to your inbox. It can’t get much better than that. You gotta love getting a free book every Friday in easy to digest instalments just for signing up.

On a personal note, I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally share this novel with you and to have the opportunity to share it through Graveside Tales. Below you’ll find a brief description and a sample from the novel to whet your appetite.

You can sign up today for The GRAVESIDER Newsletter and get started on ANGEL’S CROSSING by following this link http://www.gravesidetales.com

ANGEL’S CROSSINGHe wrote the world into existence in six days and on the seventh day He will rest. Will the world have the strength to write its own story? Our first – or our last – stand will be made in the town of Forest Hills, a town stricken by the horrors of a serial killer who is only a harbinger of the evil to come. By the time the four angels meet at the crossing will there be anyone left to stand with them against the waves of infected and their creator? Find out for yourself beginning September 3rd, 2010

Sample from ANGEL’S CROSSING
Eddie registered the blindness and pain simultaneously. Some thing was latched onto his face. He choked on the agony, gasps for breath hurting his chest, his mouth sucking air like a goldfish out of water. The thing holding his head slithered between his lips, a lover’s unwanted tongue pushing them wider as it scratched down his throat. He urged his hands to release their death grip on the window bars and the pain forced them tighter. Panic taking over, he attempted swallowing the thing and the coaxing muscles in his neck helped the worm find its way into his chest.

Thump, thump, his heart hammered at his ribs. He prayed for a heart-attack.

The empty husk released its hold, fell to the pavement below the prison cell window and dissolved into a phlegm-like film near the discarded remains of the former Bedroom Slasher. Inside of the new host, the firewyrm began the process of taking control, infecting and reproducing.

Eddie let go of the bars. His knuckles white from the strain of supporting his weight. Collapsing onto the bench, his knees buckling. Eyes bugging out in fear for the briefest moment, then slowly they closed to slits bloodshot with black veins. Eddie was a changed man.