Writing short stories is not easy. The reason it isn't easy is because they are short. The writer is still charged with producing living characters who have personalities: good, bad, or milksop. Add to that a dynamic narrative that gives you, the reader, an opportunity to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste what the folks who inhabit those little stories do, and the authors have a demanding job on their hands. Short stories are a great deal more than sitting on an old apple crate and hammering away at the QWERTY. What's that you say? Well, of course it's a word. Look it up. Anyway, we decided to provide something antiquotidian for your--Huh? Will you please stop interrupting? Antiquotidian--something out of the ordinary; a work that is not commonplace. Is that better? Anyway, where were we? Oh, yeah, we decided to assemble an anthology that departs from the same old, same old. It has a theme, but it is not designed around a specific holiday, a particular genre, or any of the other time-battered ideas. This one has as its shaky foundation something that is even more difficult for authors to pull off with grace. It is for that reason that the lineup of writers in this anthology were chosen. They not only write good stories, but they are able to do what many can't. They are going to lead you through the rose garden and up that little hill--see it there?--and when you've reached the crest of that knoll, they are going to gleefully toss you off the cliff. Yeah, you heard it right. They're going to give you a little jolt that you were not expecting, and, at the same instant, give you reason to pause. To think. What? Why, sure you can. Some of these stories will cause you to think for a long time, and some of them will have you kicking your mental butt because you didn't see it coming. Don't you just love it? Oh, sorry about that. We should have told you that in the beginning, huh? The name of this anthology is: TWISTED TAILS. And don't come up with any smart remarks, we've heard them all.
- J. Richard Jacobs, editior
Double Dragon Publishing
The Authors of Twisted Tails
Eugen M. Bacon, Msc, studied at the University of Greenwich, UK, and graduated with distinction. A Computer Science graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing, Eugen is now resident in Australia. She is the author of several publications, and is enthralled to be part of this anthology of skewed vision from equally warped authors.
Jeremy Davies is a practising academic (hoping to one day get it right) and a Ph.D. candidate at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia; as well as being a father, husband, man and (chiefly) human. He likes cats more than dogs, and is surprisingly uninspired by professional sport, gardening, trivia nights or renovating houses. 'Write what you don't know,' he has been heard to say, 'that way, at least you might learn something.' His short fiction has appeared in an eclectic range of publications: anything from People magazine to Aurealis. His first novel, Missing, Presumed Undead, was published by Double Dragon Press in 2005.
Jamie A. Hughes is an author who likes to think she has perfected the art of dreaming she is somewhere else. This desire to escape from undesirable places like doctor's waiting rooms, long car rides, and staff meetings compelled her to try her hand at fantasy and science fiction writing, and she has never regretted taking that first step. Not even once. Currently, she is working as a professor of literature and composition at a small Florida college and as a freelance editor working through www.editavenue.com. She recently received the 2006 Douglas Freels Poetry Award and has been accepted for publication in several fantasy anthologies. Happily, she has been able to find good homes for her academic work as well, including Peake Studies, The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, and The Journal of Popular Culture. In addition to writing, her passions include St. Louis Cardinals baseball, comic books, and getting lost in foreign countries. Her future plans include publishing a non-fiction testimonial about her first year with Multiple Sclerosis and earning a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida.
J. Richard Jacobs began writing professionally in 1956, and has been unable to break the habit. In college he majored in physics/mathematics, and minored in astronomy related subjects. He has been an avid amateur astronomer since 1948. Oddly, he did not pursue physics or astronomy, but gravitated into naval architecture, and yacht design & construction. His writing habit was put on hold for twenty-eight years, though he continued to write papers and essays on applied creative mathematics in design, structural engineering, and astronomy topics. He recently won First Place, Pioneer Division, in an essay contest sponsored by The Mars Society on why it is critically important to colonize Mars and, by default, the moon as soon as possible. It is available in a book, Back to Mars 2, from Apogee Books.
See his writing website at: http://geocities.com/orbitaldata/jwrites.html
Now that he is retired from naval architecture, he pursues a life of poverty as a prize-winning author in a small town in New Mexico. His most recent books, Xenogenesis, Seeds of Memory, and Twisted Tails were published by Double Dragon. He says there will be more coming from Double Dragon in the near future.
Steve Lazarowitz: If there is such a thing as a typical author, Steve Lazarowitz is not it. From his not-quite-so-humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York, to Hobart Tasmania, where he’s only recently ended up, Steve has bemused, befuddled and entertained more people than you can shake a stick at.
Steve likes to break rules and does so with impunity. You never know where, when, or how a story will turn on you, but turn it will, in the most unexpected of directions.
Steve has raised and bred exotic invertebrates and lizards, he’s snorkled in the Bahamas and Cayman Islands, wandered the rainforests of Costa Rica, explored the Tasmanian bush and toured castles in England.
Steve currently resides in Tasmania with his wife, two stepsons, an insane dog and a giant spiny stick insect (retired). He loves to fold origami, watch movies, play computer games (particularly role-playing games) and, of course, write.
Biff Mitchell lives at the edge of the world. He has no life. He has no friends. Neighborhood children throw stones at his hovel. At night, Biff throws stones at his hovel. Someday Biff plans to write a book about a man who lives in a hovel that is stoned daily by neighborhood children who—through some magical twist of events—turn into snowmen. When Spring arrives, the man’s house melts.
Visit biff at www.biffmitchell.com.
K. L. Nappier is an award winning author who writes in multiple genres. Regardless of how light or dark her plots may be (though she confesses they’re usually dark), she’s exploring how the human experience can lift us up, give us hope, teach us how.
Kathy’s supernatural thriller Full Wolf Moon placed in the Draco Awards’ Final Three in the Horror Division, placed in the Kay Snow Awards and was a finalist in the New Century Awards, along with another of her novels. Her latest release, Voyagers, is a paranormal mystery/adventure. Presently, Kathy is working on Full Wolf Moon’s sequel, Bitten.
Her work has been reviewed by the Gothic Journal as “stunning” and “fresh,” with suspense that “is razor sharp.”
Her novels are in paperback and ebook at http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com.
Check on her updates at http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/phpBB2/index.php under Meet the Authors.
Marilyn Peake is the award-winning author of a trilogy of children's fantasy adventure novels: The Fisherman's Son, The City of the Golden Sun, and Return of the Golden Age. These books have received all positive reviews, including a wonderful review quote from the best-selling science fiction and fantasy author, Piers Anthony. Marilyn, along with four other authors, has created a series of audio classes about writing and book promotion, published at DDP under their own imprint: DDP POD RADIO. Marilyn placed in the Top Ten in the 2005 Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll in two categories: Poet, and Poem for In Memory of New Orleans. The author's short story, Dragon Fire, is published in DDP's first Illuminated Manuscripts anthology. The author has a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology. Marilyn lives with her husband and two children; and her hobbies include photography and traveling.
Marilyn Peake's website: http://www.marilynpeake.com
Peter Prellwitz: Born in Arizona, Peter has lived in Wisconsin, California, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, where he now lives with his wife, Bethlynne, and five sons. He is active in his church, and, in addition to writing, enjoys history, backpacking, and languages.
Since 2004, Double Dragon Publishing has published seven of Peter's novels and will publish another seven to ten in 2006 and 2007, along with many individual short stories. Horizons, his second novel but first published, was chosen by Mike Resnick as the winner the 2003 Draco Award for Best Science Fiction. Horizons was a finalist for the 2005 Eppie Award forBest Science Fiction, as was another of Peter's novels, The Science of Magic. The first two books of his latest novel, SHARDS, are now competing against each other, both nominated as Finalists for 2006 Eppie Award for Best Science Fiction.
There is much, much more about Peter’s Shards Universe at: http://ShardsUniverse.net
Terence West is the author of nine novels including the best sellers Fallen Angels, Phantoms, and Crusade. A Gen X refugee, he fears the day his generation will rule the world. West is currently stockpiling goods and supplies in Buhl, Idaho with his three dogs.
D. L. White has written several short stories, but Cassiopeia's Tears is his first published work. Daniel White grew up in Connecticut and now lives in upstate New York with his wife, daughter and three needy cats. A professional architect who designs primarily medical facilities, he admits his priorities need to include more writing time than the odd hour or two stolen during—well, better not say. There are eyes everywhere. In 1995 he discovered the online writing community of Compuserve's old Writers Forum. In a critiquing circle he met a prolific and talented novelist named Peter Prellwitz. They are now longtime friends and occasional collaborators, and DL White's doppelganger can be found in Peter's Shards Universe tales.
Margaret ‘Meg’ Whitley has been an elevator operator, newspaper carrier, postal worker, preschool/first grade teacher, and full-time mother. She holds a Master’s Degree and has done post-graduate work in gifted education. She is currently a teacher of gifted children but also loves writing, weaving on a handloom, and star-gazing. Ms. Whitley has three children, two wonderful grandchildren, and lives in the desert southwest.
(I have four stories in this wonderful anthology. Here's the first part of "Ain’t No Doc for the Falling Apart Blues"":
Jason flicked the light switch and his other thumb fell off. So much for opposable thumbs, he thought. Does this redefine me in some evolutionary sense as less than human? Probably not, he decided, but it had been a week for redefining his anatomy: two thumbs, one foot, half an ear, and one testicle. All gone.
He was starting to worry in spite of Al’s assurances that it was just a passing thing as Jason spooned an ear lobe out of his coffee. “Bit of sleep, proper exercise, you’ll be fine,” Al had said. “These things have a way of righting themselves.”
But eight hours later, his ear was showing no signs of righting itself, and the image of his left testicle plopped on top of a deodorant cake in the urinal was still disturbingly clear in his mind.
He hopped into his apartment and tossed his right foot, still shoed, into the pile of slippers and boots outside the hall closet. It had come off on the bus home from work. A woman standing next to him had said, “You should probably get that looked at.”
He left his other thumb on the floor. Strange, he thought. Shouldn’t there be blood or something?
Five minutes later, sitting on the couch, cold beer in thumbless hand, he pondered the day’s events. Things had started normally: up at six, pee, ten pushups, ten sit ups, multivitamin, shave, shower, towel, groom, dress, bagel and coffee, off to work.
Things are simple when you live alone and have a routine, and that’s the way he liked it at home, simple. He had all the complications he needed in his life from his job. He had few friends and he rarely went out. Friends had a way of complicating things when their lives collided with your own, and the outside world was too prone to events and rules made by others.
His office was on the third floor of the Bonnano Tower building, the headquarters for ErectSoft Inc, the largest software company in the world. He wasn’t sure exactly what kind of software the company produced, but for him it didn’t matter. He wrote high level product development procedures documents, and the product development procedures he documented were so high level they could be applied to anything and everything. For instance:
4.6 Project Compliance Form – The Project Compliance Form (ESI/Form978/PC) contains specific project information, including Client and ErectSoft contact personnel, system requirements, project resources, media resources, and media depth. If the target market has been defined, then a Target Market Profile Form (ESI/Form349/TMP) will be attached to the Project Compliance Form; if not, then the Target Market Profile Form will be completed in step 4.9 Target Population Analysis, below.
So high that the details were devoid of information. And they changed constantly. But Jason’s life remained the same. At work, he kept himself busy documenting processes for projects that might not even exist for all he knew. At home, he followed his routine of eating at the appropriate times, watching sitcoms and reality show re-runs, watching the news before bed for confirmation that the outside world was definitely full of routines he wanted to avoid, and sleeping dreamlessly. It was a comfortable life and he couldn’t think of anything he would change.
Now he’d like to change his life into one with all his body parts properly attached to his body. Manipulating the remote for his TV was clumsy with no thumbs but he managed tuning into the early evening news. Stories about robberies, storms, political scandals and troubles in the Middle East flashed across the screen, but there was nothing about missing body parts, no reports of appendages mysteriously falling off.
It must be an isolated event, something isolated to Jason Betts, maybe something he’d eaten just before the first isolated occurrence three days earlier when his left thumb had fallen off in the shower. He remembered thinking it was odd at the time, but since he used only two fingers on his keyboard at work, it didn’t seem all that urgent.
But then today happened – one foot, one ear lobe, the other thumb, a testicle. Something’s not right, he thought as he swilled back a mouthful of beer.
And swallowed his tongue.
Well he thought so much for complaining about all this. He downed his beer and pulled another from the cooler by his chair. He was prepared in the event his legs fell off.
He thought back to the shower three days earlier. Maybe the soap? The quality of the water? A contaminant of some sort? But that would have traveled through the water mains to other homes and something would have cropped up on the news by now. Chemicals in his clothing? Nothing was new. Nothing was different. Everything in his life was at it was and had always been. Nobody could pin anything on him. Nobody could say, “Jason Betts has done something … and now … all his body parts are going to fall off.”
There was absolutely no reason for him to be falling apart.
(He pushed back uncomfortably in his chair and felt something loosen up in his chest. Oh great he thought now I’m falling apart inside?)
… that day last week … when he’d stepped on an angel.