Lawrence Dagstine: “Casa del Dagstine…”

Today I decided to update my website, which I never seem to have time for anymore.  What has it been? Three months? Four again? Forgive me if I go on a little stream of consciousness.  Anyway, many people have been probably wondering where I pen my stories.  My fiction, my moment of Zen or just overall grooviness.  I rarely let people into my life.  I like to be left alone.  I’m that 40 year old (well, almost) codger who doesn’t like the company of human beings too often.  Yes, as antisocial as it sounds, I gave up on the human race a long time ago.  We need to be recycled, as corny as it sounds.  Those harbored thoughts, which I analyze on a daily basis, while sitting with a cup of Joe on my windowsill, helps to motivate me.  Small shards of my inner self, small particles of my inner thought processes are engrained in every single thing I write.  You may not notice them at first, or not until a second or third reread.  But they are there.  Whether one of my stories takes place aboard a giant mechanical shark  off the shores of 1880s Victorian New England; or an agoraphobe wakes up to find a beanstalk rising up through his living room ceiling into a homosexual neighbor’s mind; or a nuclear household living the same volatile routine among a lunar base that will lead to forced oxygen depletion, I am embedded in the grains of the virtual ink.

And yes, a little TV, movie and pop culture didn’t hurt anyone either, especially in the inspiration department.  After all, we didn’t all become artists or writers because we had something important to say.  Outside influences clearly stirred us; they were the wheels for that ‘important thing to be said.’

Me, today

Okay, that wasn’t stream of consciousness.  It was a plug for a future project.

At the moment, I have a collection coming out with a new small press in first quarter 2015 (chock full of short stories, novelettes and novellas) and it will be available in a limited edition print and ebook form, the stories available nowhere else ever but that single tome.  Apparently, I’ll also be one of the launch titles with three other authors.   Then, there’s a second collection.  This one is a fully illustrated collaborative project (my first) — think graphic novel writing — and it’s currently under consideration (and still being written).  Then, there’s the gargoyle secret agent novel, on the backburner, which needs to be tended to.  Agent would really like me to finish this, but there’s never any time.  It’s part of a swansong trilogy, and I’ve never seen a guy show so much enthusiasm in me.  And let’s say I did write the first book in 9 months, get a pitiful advance of $2000 or $3000 in the current publishing climate, ends up lasting a month on a B&N shelf until it’s taken down and turned into obscure pulp.   I sometimes wonder if there’s a point to any of this; even today’s most legendary publishers and editors rely on Kickstarter campaigns to start projects that, while awesome, will never earn out.  For Christ sake, Night Shade is gone; how long till B&N is next?

Friend of mine asked me the other day, if you could go back in time would you return to journalism school or your first option, pharmacy school.  I said ‘pharmacist,’ a one hundred thousand dollar a year field.  In a heartbeat! We live and learn.

Thank God for ebooks, I suppose.  And simple creativity.

Anyway, without further ado, here is an intimate look at Casa del Dagstine…

Let’s start with the kitchen, here is where I cook my meals…

kitchen 1

Black Fridge 1

Black Fridge 2

Black Fridge 3

Those are porterhouses on the right, and you can’t go wrong with Birds Eye veggies.  The kitchen itself has brand new white wooden cabinets, sanded granite floors and granite-marble countertops for preparing food, and I’m usually always prepared for the zombie apocalypse.  You’ll also notice my Alf doll from the 80s on top of the waste bin.

Chinaware

Apple Jacks_Cookie Crisp

I also, in the last year or so, love to cook.  Like four days a week.  It’s become a passion of mine to make whole grain pastas, meatballs, homemade macaroni salads or tuna noodle casseroles, steaks and center cut pork chops, marinated chickens and broiled or deep fried cutlets.  Here and there, brussel sprouts or fresh cauliflower, steamed in a tangy butter sauce (I use regular margarine), with salmon fillet or lamb (when on sale).  I experiment with seasonings and homemade recipes.  And I just love my chinaware, which is the green plate below, called Amazon (after the rainforest).  It’s ceramic with a clay pottery material.  Heavy, fragile.  For breakfast, it’s Apple Jacks or my personal favorite, Cookie Crisp.  You can also see in one photograph I’m making Angus Beef porterhouses (25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees) with steamed vegetables.  I eat steak every week.  When I’m cooking, I listen to classical music, video game soundtracks like Final Fantasy, opera or ambient/mood music.  Or, my personal favorite, Trance.  Yes, I love trance.

PorterhousePorterhouse_After

Dinner 1

Eating Dinner

The second dish is my honey mustard barbecue chicken, tangy but delicious.  Off to the living room, miscellaneous rooms, and some random pics…

couch-table

TV area

The living room is small, compared to most one-bedroom apartments (welcome to NY real estate), but for a cozy area to nap, or work on my laptop, or watch TV or play video games, it’s suffice.  The couch is black leather, Crate & Barrel.  The table is an imitation marble, which I have to Pledge every second.  I’m hoping to put an AC in the window real soon.  Opposite that, I have two bookcases, and two in the bedroom.  But I’ve unloaded a lot of my print books and limited editions (from Asimovs to Analog to 25 dollar hardcovers, I couldn’t even give them away) due to everything being Kindle and Android readers now.  I used to own 2000 books and magazines at one point in my life, I’m guessing that number is more like 500 or 600 now.  Now I mostly use it for video games and to display collectible toys.

The entertainment center is average for a small living room… I don’t have all my video games there, and as a collector and somebody involved in the industry, I’ll do a separate blog post or something displaying my 1000+ game collection from NES up until now.  Too long to write about today.  Mostly retro.  However, below, I’ll put up my favorite system ever made, mint condition, with trusty Express handheld, and I own 45 HuCard games for it.  Called the PC Engine in Japan, but over here, the Turbografx-16 Console.  Circa 1990.

Turbografx 5

Turbografx 6

Turbografx 4

Castlevania 1_2_3

MegaMan_1_2_and_6doctor who

Bleecker Bob's Pulp Paperbacks

Like I said, it would take another blog post (maybe two or three), and about two spare weekends, just to catalog those four bookcases: video games, toys, genre books, genre mags, encyclopedias, non-fiction, baseball card albums, Yu-Gi-Oh, Star Wars, obscure fanzines.  Where do I begin?

The print books above, however, are my most recent acquisitions.  Doctor Who with the Ice Warriors, and my GF’s sister picked these four pulp scifi paperbacks up for me from a now out-of-business record store called Bleecker Bob’s.  Yes, the famous rock and roll institution of Greenwich Village.  And Bob himself, now in a nursing home, was a science fiction fan and avid collector and reader.  These are Bob’s pulp paperbacks.  I used to own The Martian Chronicles (and read it already) in 1986, but mine came from Forbidden Planet and was a later edition.  This might be a first, not sure.  Nevertheless, can’t wait to dive in.

bedroom

toilet

This is the smelliest room in the house.  Mornings I occupy this room for about — er, uh, well you know how it is.  I eat a lot of fiber.  Above that, the bedroom where, sometimes I’ve been known to lock myself for twelve hours at a time and work.  Some people have cabins in the woods, others stay in hotel rooms.  Me, I have a blue bed.

TMNT Playset

This is another toy.  TMNT playset (but for use with Batman figures).  Stands four feet tall.  I bought this for my son for X-mas 2012. It’s as tall as him.  He plays with it when he comes to visit.  It took seven hours to put together.  The desk in the background fell apart two months ago, thus I’m now writing on a blue bed.
My Son 2012 A

My Son 2012 B

My Son 2012 CMy Son 2012 D

My son, summer 2012.  He got big.

The 9th Doctor

Cool Hand Larry

Cute Eyes Larry

The uppermost pic (the humorous one; okay, they’re all humorous) is me at age 23.  I must have been rocking the Tom Selleck look back then or something.  That might have been taken at Benihana’s Japanese Restaurant.  Friends and I used to eat there a lot.  The next two, and rather hipsterish, are February 2013, my living room.

kitty cats

Last but not least, friends on Facebook may remember that I acquired two kittens in summer 2012, but I couldn’t take them with me.  No pets allowed.  Blackey and Trouble (sister and brother).  Well, good news.  They’re big now, and they’ve found a wonderful home with a cat-loving mom and her little girl in Brooklyn.

If you want to help an animal, give a kitty a foster home or make a donation, there are some wonderful cats at: www.brooklynanimalaction.org

Please consider giving an older animal a place to live today!

With that said, drop by over the next few weeks.  Free ebooks, magazines coming out, subscribe.  Stuff like that.  Always feels weird blogging; like I’m talking to myself or something.  :/

Lawrence Dagstine on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Smashwords, and the Apple iTunes Store:

Amazon      Nook      Kobo      Smashwords      Apple

Lawrence Dagstine: “400 Publishing Credits…”

 

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” 

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

 “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lawrence Dagstine

Short Stories * Novelettes * Digital Stories

Magazines – Periodicals – Webzines – Anthologies – Kindle

Other New Entries: “The Dude” – Biography

Author’s Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald… The Great Gatsby… One of my ten favorite authors.

FREE FICTION: “The Overrated Pro” by Lawrence Dagstine

Welcome to my first installment of what will be a continuous monthly to bimonthly project.  Free Fiction Stories.  Approaching all genres, and sometimes even serialized (the serials will most likely be novelette or novella lengthed works).  For February and March we have a brand new Extreme Horror piece — put the kiddies to bed — about a writer.  A good chilling tale about a writer quickly brings to mind the work of Mr. King and Mr. Ketchum.  One such tale that comes to mind right away is Secret Window (the movie version starred Johnny Depp).  Sometimes a good story is too good to pass up, such as is the case with Secret Window.  The picture below, which I got off the Web and am a die-hard fan of (I’m a die-hard fan of all pictures on my site, from Doctor Who to Action Figures to Whatever), I think compliments this piece well.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  But it does beg to ask the question: How far would you go to become a writer?

How far would you go to become a writer?

Free Fiction Series Take 1

 

THE OVERRATED PRO

by

Lawrence Dagstine

The package fluttered as if it might fall, but it didn’t.  Carnesto preferred to take a cigarette out of the pack himself.  Despite the tremors, his fingers had facility, and he reached into the pack for a smoke.  The paper fluttered and sounded, but out came the cigarette, and it orbited to his lips.  He lit up by himself, too.  He even had this way of making cool artsy smoke rings.  The single and simple act assumed the proportion of a wannabe performance, which all watched as he sat in the back of the truck stop diner working heavily on his laptop. “Thanks, Colbert,” he said. “I promise I’ll leave you a tip next time.” He got a refill on his coffee.

“When are you writing this next bestseller?”

“As soon as one of these organizations actually recognize me,” he said.

Colbert nodded. “I guess that means never.”

“How’s your cat?”

“Dead.”

Another one.”

“It’s okay.  I’ll just go down to the Humane Society and pick me up a healthier critter.  Anyway, good luck with your manuscript.”

There was something about people on computers in diners or Starbucks or sidewalk cafes.  All were the next big thing, the next blockbuster screenwriter, the next professional anthologist, and, for the deluded, sometimes even Pulitzer Prize winner.  They always looked cool sitting there with their Compaqs and Toshibas and Hewlett-Packards.  At the end of their days they went home and popped an extra Zoloft or two, stared at themselves in their medicine cabinets, and often died of something like pancreatic cancer and very much penniless.  As a balding, middle-aged man living between Middletown USA and the UK, however, he still didn’t get it yet.  It was sort of like the meaning of life, only staring you cold right in the face.  Being a writing celebrity was the most transient fame in the world, but it was magnificent while it lasted.  Who could resist wanting to know what it was like to become as inflated as a zeppelin, even if rather hollow? Still, ego or no ego, magnificent while it lasted.

A man on the keyboard, if he had inspiration, could have more immediate impact in a couple of hours than a genre historian with a lifetime of books and no national or international exposure.  For, at the end of the day, genre is what he wrote and absolutely creamed on himself just at the thought of it.

Clicking sounds from the keys, then long emailed queries.

A curious kind of aberrant, macroscopic reputation attainable because of the nature of the exposure, and the redundancy of the work routine combined.  Much of his life revolved around two credits, and much to his pub mate editors’ likings.  An amateur might write down a few interesting metaphors or pen just as decent a story—a beginning, a middle, and an end—publish a few in some low circulation or obscure quarterlies; it might a few years later change a portion of the face of the globe, and such a figure might or might not get to be known even inside the publishing community.  Impact and creativity was fantastic.  But the genre writer was straight on your eyes, because it was a form of fantasy, page by page, as while he repeated the lines written by another; if you watched television or went to the movies, plots came free and life was a contrived and clichéd vessel.  He and the non-reading public became well acquainted, because, quite frankly, Carnesto never really wrote anything of worth.  He was beat as a child if he got less than a B, sometimes his father would hit the bottle and then creep into his room in the middle of the night and display his inebriation.  Carnesto even had a lax imagination at times to show for it.  A character like himself writing fiction was like a dead fourth brain inside the human skull.  Internet crazies with drug addictions thought he was super-important, and he might think so too.  That spelled out Web Idol.  But there was a difference between the web idol and the literary idol.  For real writers the grandeur of self-satisfaction spelled New Heroes, New Days, New Minds, New Attitudes, New Influences.  For Carnesto it often meant just another day glaring at that screen in the back of that smoky truck stop diner, full of resentment and false pride.

He’d even met an amateur one day, typing crazily and happily a few booths away.  He went over to him and said, “Are you a writer by any chance?” and he saw next to the computer a stack of black and white magazines. “You know if you are, you really shouldn’t prostitute yourself to such small publications like this.”

They talked a bit and it just so happened that this other typist was also into genre.  When he’d heard that, Carnesto felt embarrassed asking the amateur for advice; he even glanced over his shoulder to make sure Colbert and the diner regulars weren’t watching. “But these periodicals you’re in are mere fanzines,” he said. “Why do it for so little money?”

“Oh, you must be from the Old School,” the amateur writer said. “Because you only live once, and there are many other rewards and remunerations from this kind of writing.”

“No! I—I don’t understand it!” He actually clenched his hands into fists and grinded his teeth. “I—I don’t compute!”

“Well, of course you don’t.  I noticed you over there, just spacing out at your screen.  I didn’t want to say anything but it was just an observation.”

“What observation? What are you talking about?” Carnesto looked slightly heated.

“You know, progress.”

“Dear sir, I’ll have you know that I AM A PRO.” It almost sounded like he was doing a Colin Baker schtick. “I’ve appeared in these two publications and I was paid such and such a sum!”

“But look at the dungeon you’ve put yourself in.  There’s no key to the door, no crawlspace, no way to get out.  You get no satisfaction from it.  It’s sad.”

“How can I get no satisfaction when the credits exist?”

“But you obsess over something you’ll still never be.”

“Are you trying to say I’m pathetic?”

“When I look from afar, yeah, I guess.” Then the amateur went on to say how many professional writers hate their lifestyles, their jobs, their families and their miserable existences.  How it’s not as easy as it looks. “You see, I exist outside the bubble.  You are trapped inside the bubble, where there are all sorts of stigmas and silly rules.  Outside the bubble, there’s relaxation, lack of worry, so much space and area to explore.  I live life to the fullest, you obviously don’t.  Inside the bubble, you’re confined and injected with this malcontent.  Even now, instead of focusing, you probably watch other writers making it one step ahead of you and feel like a prisoner in your own skin.”

“But I have two pro credits! I have two pro credits! Two pro credits!”

“That still does not make you a professional.”

“Yes it does! Two pro credits make me a somebody!”

The amateur looked back at Carnesto’s laptop and said, “Then if you’re a somebody, why are you dilly-dallying with me at my table when you should be over there writing your third professional credit?”

Then he explained to Carnesto that: Nothing x Nothing = Nothing.

But Carnesto wouldn’t have it, no matter how much the amateur tried to break things down to him.  He stormed off insisting that he was right and the amateur was wrong.  He stormed off insisting that he was this famous thing, trained by long forgotten grandmasters and alcoholic slush pile editors.  The more Carnesto saw the cobwebs under his arms and suspected his own imposture, the exaggeration of his value, that his sublime vogue was just a façade for the crazies, the more he began to drink, cheat on the missus, and dissipated.  He almost felt like lashing out his own failures in life on somebody who wouldn’t suspect, somebody he wished to be. 

A few weeks later, in decline, reading from time to time of his own professional wane or passing, experiencing the oh-he’s-washed-up coldness of the public and the literary critics, and now, having lost his mind, having lost prestige or real value, he decided to choose his victim carefully and make that individual feel the same way.  He wanted to make somebody feel just as inwardly collapsed.  Emotionally, physically, professionally, deflated beyond recovery.

This would be his release.  He would call himself “The Winner” at times.

But there was nothing to be won.

During these days, when he went on the Internet actively seeking people he hated or wished to be, or just couldn’t stand being happy because his own life lacked joy, his wife walked about with a deep inner upset.  Carnesto, still not recuperated from his own lack of success, didn’t have the energy or desire to make love to her.  They were often quiet at the dinner table, too.

“When are you going to get off that fucking Internet! I didn’t marry a robot.  You’ve become this—this computer junkie.  I needed you yesterday!”

There Carnesto sat at his computer, in a slumped position, head straight forward and practically paying her no mind.

“Did you hear what I said? I needed you!”

“Why? Because your friend Janet’s brother is in the hospital on a respirator?”

“That poor devil was in a terrible accident.  He might not make it through another night.”

“So let them pull the plug.  It’s not as if she cared about him anyway.  They had their differences.  If I’m a computer junkie, so’s she.  Tell me, how many hours does she spend on the Web? If you ask me, she’ll probably be relieved once her parents fly back and they take the fellow off life support.  Oh, and don’t ask me to come to the funeral.”

“Carnesto, what’s wrong with you?” his wife pleaded. “You were never like this!”

“I’m busy! Working!”

“On a fucking messageboard? Who are you talking to anyway?”

“This is strictly business.  Now please get the fuck out of here.”

His wife came over and threw down some drug paraphernalia.  His eyes glanced it briefly as he typed away. “And where did you get this?”

“I don’t know where you got that, but it’s definitely not mine.”

“Smoking drugs with that crack whore.  I spotted you with her the other day, chatting about.  She’s the big druggie and floozy of the neighborhood.”

“You know her?” Carnesto asked.

“Who doesn’t! What are you doing with that meth head?”

“We… We get along together.  We understand each other.” There was a brief silence. “Oh, you wouldn’t understand.  You’re not a writer, you’re not a professional.  How could you understand?”

“Carnesto, I know full well what you do.  You’re slacking off.  You’re not the man I once knew.  You talk of writing yet you haven’t written or edited a single draft in three months.”

He quickly changed the subject, talking about her inconsistencies: her manners, her mind, her language. 

“Shit,” she screamed at him, “you’re always trying to make an idiot out of me!”

“I fear it’s a lost cause,” he said to her, then swiveled around in his chair back to his computer. “Just like this poor chap…”

“I’m not a lost cause! I’m your wife!”

“Says you.  I’m giving you a difficult assignment.  Change yourself a little,”—but this had only been an excuse to get rid of her and focus on his new computer mate—“make yourself into something fine.  Learn how to cook or something.”

“I like the time I’m having with you now! If I didn’t care about you, if I didn’t care about our marriage, I wouldn’t be here begging with you, would I?”

The logic made him laugh.

Christ, she said to herself, he hasn’t fucked me in a month.  I ought to go down to the pub or get a piece somewhere else.

He sensed her thought, but he was still heavily focused on something else.

“Look, darling, I’ll be with you in a few days.  Now don’t get impatient.  This Web business will all be over soon.”

“If that crackhead came along here, you’d be able to put out,” she complained.  As she headed for the office door, she added, “And make sure you don’t do anything with her here!”

A little celibacy will be good for her, he thought to himself, grinning wickedly.  It’ll drive her wild, and besides, I’ll get what I started online finished.  They said I wasn’t a pro, I gave them helpful advice, but they just tossed me away.  Well no more!

As time went on, his dilapidation showed.  He didn’t shave, didn’t shower.  He didn’t even brush his teeth.  Lack of hygiene.  But he couldn’t and wouldn’t let it be a singular ruin, as he was bent on taking someone else down with him.  This was his therapy, because they all said and felt he wasn’t good enough.  He was bent on destroying this other person who was almost a perfect identical image to him…

…only happy with life.

He went to messageboards, review sites, emailed friends of his—if one didn’t know any better, they’d think he was a full-time stalker—wherever this individual had been last, he would be there to spy and bait.  Sometimes he even forced sleep deprivation upon himself and Googled the individual’s name as much as one hundred times in a single day.  All the while muttering to himself, “I’m a professional! I’m a professional! I’m a professional!” At other times, he would say, “Fucking amateur! Fucking amateur! Fucking amateur!” He had become so obsessed with this other person’s writing career, that not only had he almost permanently forgotten his own, but he started checking his victim’s work for logistical and grammatical errors that either did not exist or just wasn’t to his liking.

Sometimes he thought of his ex-wife—by now, she had dumped him and not only was his computer on constantly, but he always carried a whiskey bottle and a loaded revolver by his side—and his marriage to her had been his foundation to begin with, and she was the only woman he had ever loved. “I will not pose any longer as a married woman nor tell myself any longer that this is a marriage,” she had said.

The words stayed on with him, fatally, robbing him of much.  So along with the victim on his computer console, his life had spiraled downward and proceeded from one self-robbery to another, depriving him of the people and dreams he once had, though without doubt, by the nature of his current self, he had earned his defeats.  And his only friends? Well, they were crazies. 

The court awarded his ex custody of their little girl, and he must pay alimony until she remarried.  But she hadn’t done that, and the cost of maintaining her lifestyle, and the costs of his daughter, had been a drain. 

About three, four times a year he saw them.  He was entitled visitation rights with his child, but his computer life always cut in, and there were times where he didn’t pursue the privileges.  Besides, it was always unpleasant to see his wife for a few minutes or hours, only to realize he could never have her around permanently.

There came a point where his daughter had reached the age of twelve, and here he was, still latched on to his computer and his writer victim, who had started moving on to other things.  The girl had lost her childhood charm and matured into a shapely, thinned-down girl.  She had her father’s haunting features and the same bone structure as he.  Carnesto was pleased with her beauty, and he complimented his wife. “You’ve done a fine job with the girl.” He held his daughter’s hands and stared at her.

His daughter said, “I think you’re so wonderful, Daddy.  Everybody does.”

“It’s your mom who’s wonderful.  Surely you must know what everybody else knows, that I’m a big international bum.”

“It’s not true, Daddy; you’re simply fabulous.  I see all your literary works in a pile over there.”

He laughed. “I may let you head up the Carnesto Johanna Fan Society.”

“You’re so outrageous, Daddy, so simply outrageous.”

His now-ex came along. “Honey, be careful.  You might fall afoul of someone like your father and get your life garbled before it begins.”

“Is your life so garbled?” Carnesto asked.

“I’m trying to spare her some of the things we’ve been through ourselves.  Like computer privileges?”

“Don’t spare her any of that, and don’t do me any favors.”

When his ex left the room he looked over his daughter.  She had leaping, anxious eyes, and she was crowding her father, wanting his attentions, even his arms around her. “Glad to see your mother letting you sleep over finally.” He looked around at the small flat. “It’s not much.  At least, not like on my old teacher pay.  Not like we used to have.” He grabbed hold of her and gave her an earthy kiss.  He held her tightly and his hands, from a lifetime of typing and not touching, found its way over her developing breasts.  His face flushed.  What the hell was going on?

He felt rocked.  He pulled himself away from her.  He had a frenetic look on his face, which his daughter studied but couldn’t understand.  With my own daughter, he told himself, staring at her loving face, her body full of trust and affection. What am I thinking? He wondered whether other fathers had incestuous surges toward their beautiful daughters.  He paced up and down cursing his passions. 

After his ex left and said she’d return on Sunday, he couldn’t get his daughter out of his mind, or quite out of his blood.  He started looking for the revolver.  You bastard, he said to himself, wanting to jazz his own child.  He looked at the messageboard on the computer and thought he saw a familiar name sign in. “It’s your fault, you fucking amateur!”

“Daddy, are you okay?”

The gun was nowhere to be found.  It had to be there.  Maybe in a drawer, maybe underneath the bathroom sink.  The incident preyed on him; it was a new experience, unlike writing fiction, and the thought shocked him.  He had a second moment’s agony.  How many crazies had such thoughts about their daughters, he wondered.  He knew a lot of crazies, but why did the notion persist with him? There she was, in his imagining, all fresh and full of young blood, a handsome smile on her face all the while, a touch of cherry blossom softness in her cheeks, eyes wide and curious.  He looked down and saw a bulge in his pants; he was rock-hard.  Maybe, he said to himself, it’s a case of me wanting to screw myself.  She looks like me.  Goddamit, I better stay far away.

Then, as his daughter was changing in the bathroom, getting ready to go to sleep, he found the gun sticking out from one of the higher shelves of his bookcase.  That one particular shelf had been lined with all the anthologies ever created, all the books ever produced, all the periodicals of the writer he had been victimizing all these years, and he realized, “Holy shit! I’m your number one fan.”

Glancing quickly over his shoulder, he saw flashing.  When he turned around to face the computer he saw action on the screen.  The numbers on the board lit up, and the writer, who he had lashed out his own misgivings and failings on for all those years had scored a book deal. “Oh no.  Oh no, you don’t! You fucking amateur! I’ll prove you don’t deserve this!” He started tearing his hair out and walking in circles.  Then he grabbed the computer and tried to log in and type right away, but he’d forgotten the password amongst the confusion with his daughter. “No you don’t! Stay at the bottom of the ladder, you fucking slime ball!” The gun was looped around a finger as he wrote.

“Daddy?”

“Not now.”

“Daddy, what’s wrong?”

“I said not now!”

“Daddy, please!”

“What don’t you under—”

He swiveled around in his chair and let go of the trigger.  A bullet entered the center of his daughter’s chest, ricocheted off her shoulder and lung, and exited through her back.  Carnesto fell to his knees.  The twelve-year-old girl’s mouth dropped in awe.  She was wearing one of those long pink and white Hello Kitty sleep shirts.  It began to soak red.  The floor soon matched in color. 

A few seconds later she collapsed at the side of the bed.

Carnesto rushed to her side, but she wasn’t breathing.  Sitting at the edge of the bed, he cradled her in her arms, weeping like a baby. “I’m sorry, child… I didn’t mean to, I swear…” Teary-eyed, he faced the computer and it said that the new book being released by the same author he had victimized from all those years, was a story that, deep down, most hardworking authors working the trenches for many years would be able to associate with.  But that was if Carnesto had the desire to live and add it to his collection.   

The title, according to the online publicist, was “The Winner”.

Carnesto Johanna had three simple words for that publicist and the author as he put the revolver up to his own head. “I’m a pro…”

The End

Lawrence Dagstine: “Christmas Time 2009…”

For the 2009 holiday season, I decided to update my blog homepage and fill my fans and followers in on some of my gifts and achievements of the last twelve months, along with what to look out for and what will be under the x-mas tree this yuletide season (for the little one).  Regardless of the last year-and-a-half of dying markets and a bad genre economy, 2009 still managed to be my best year in the “earning” department, where I doubt I will ever be able to rival 2007 in the quantity and material department.  Some of these achievements range from smaller press and semi-pro fiction acceptances, minor proofreading, non-fiction writing and essays, resumes, my first official short story collection being released, my first Kindle title being released, making over 2000 friends and followers on Facebook, and just a lot revolving around the written word and The Spirit of Christmas.

Isn’t that a beautiful Christmas tree? The lights flash blue and white.  Progress-wise, this year I had very little time to blog/plug but got a lot of acceptances (some straight through 2011), let go of a lot of reprints, wrote 26 BRAND NEW short stories, wrote 8 BRAND NEW novelettes, wrote four unfinished novellas between 15,000 and 30,000 words in length — which I may make available on my blog to read next year.  I mean, why let good stories go to waste.  Or maybe I will get around to editing and finishing those novellas.  I have future eBooks & Kindle titles on the horizon.  I realized that, money-wise, it doesn’t pay to release a second short story collection.  I can earn more individually.  I was shortlisted a couple of times by some decent pubs, made second readings, almost made it into 4 professional level magazines/venues.  And that’s just the fiction department.  Oh yeah, did I mention the steampunk and satire offers?

Below you will find pictures of just half of this year’s gifts.  It’s mainly a Cybermen-themed Christmas this year, with David Tennant regenerating into Matt Smith and all.  And my son is now a Dr. Who fan and absolutely adores The Cybermen (he’s scared of the Daleks).  Oddly enough, he’s also more a Christopher Eccleston fan.  One of the items I searched the UK high and low for was The Cybermen Age of Steel 4-figure collection.  Collect them all, open up the packages, and you can build a fifth figure.  The Cyber Controller.  I also picked up The Next Doctor on DVD and ordered a Cyber Leader Voice-Changing Helmet to seal the deal.

Some of the other gifts, which are already wrapped, consist of model kits with glues and paints from my old man, though they say ages 8+ and 12+ on the packages.  So I guess the little one will have to hold on to them until he’s old enough to understand them.  Those are made by Revell.  There are also Bob the Builder videos.  Believe me, Doctor Who wasn’t the only stocking stuffer.  There are some other wonderful toys and gifts ranging from Super Mario to Toddler Costumes to Spongebob Squarepants-themed games, and, like last year, play food items.  Like “make your own pizza.”  The Spongebob game in the picture below is actually Connect Four, but obviously for a slightly younger age group.  Then there’s the one last-minute gift I just couldn’t put down.  The paint job was so realistic.  It reminded me of the Super Powers Action Figures of the 80’s.  Remember those? The Justice League of America Boxed Set: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.  These figures are mint and pristine! And who doesn’t love the JLA?

Now that’s a big ass cup of coffee (by the way, that’s made of metal).  Just couldn’t resist.

In a reduced and very affordable fashion, I also treated myself to a few early-season gifts.  First, notice the non-fiction book above on Pompeii.  You got it.  It’s research time.  Lawrence Dagstine will be coming your way sometime in 2010 with a story set in Pompeii.  It could be before Volcano Day, it could be after.  It could be Alternate History or not the story you’re expecting.  But you know me when it comes to Historical Weird Tales.

Also, I can’t recommend enough WEIRD HISTORY 101 — published by Falls River, and if you’re a B&N member, you might be able to get it reduced now for $4.00 — in hardcover.  This tome is sooo awesome.  It’s like a mini factbook and reference tool for the writer, and just all around interesting to own.  If you’re a writer of historical tales, alternate history, steampunk, or period pieces, trust me and go to Barnes & Nobles and get this book.  Doesn’t matter what genre.  Author is John Richard Stephens.  You won’t find these kind of facts on Google, or between the pages of traditional historical reference books.

And if you look up above, I finally have a new computer desk.  Nice to have shelving and a drawer, but still unsure of what to fill it up with yet.  Now that the little one has gotten older, the bookcase units pretty much belong to him and his toys.  Now that I have a Kindle, most of my print books will be donated.  Those I wish to keep will be locked away in storage between two households (yeah, there’s that many).  But that desk above is situated in a new corner, it’s my new workspace, and it’s where I’ll pen that Pompeii tale for you Dagstine readers when the time comes.

With that said, I’ll probably only update this blog four more times before the New Year.  Stay with me in 2010.  We have many adventures to go on together, and much awaits.  Won’t you join me? To all my fans and readers…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Other New Entries: “About Me”

Lawrence Dagstine: “The New York Yankees 2009…”

NEW YORK CITY

HOME OF CHAMPIONS!!!

yankeesCongratulations to the New York Yankees… Championship No. 27.

2009 MLB World Series – Bronx, New York.

Lawrence Dagstine: “FRESH BLOOD Aftermath…”

Or… The BEST WEEKEND EVAH! Thank you sooo much to everyone who stopped by my booth and picked up copies of my books, pulp magazines, and other wares.  Many of you told me you’ve never read genre before, many of you took my card, and a couple of you even stood in line and actually waited.  You don’t know how good that made me feel.  Thank you again.  Here I thought folks don’t read anymore (well, that was before this weekend, assuming I now have new readers – I really hope you enjoy the tales and stay tuned to this spot). 

ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

Good news: I’ll be back next weekend.  Some marketing, diversifying, and injecting the right pitches clearly doesn’t hurt, I see.

Bad news: If you’re new here, I’m temporarily sold out of Fresh Blood.  I only have five copies left, and at the moment I need to mail out to review venues.  I will, however, still have a few copies of other books and pulps on hand.  But these will be sparse.

Oh yeah, and I’m planning a contest too!

Order FRESH BLOOD direct from The Genre Mall:

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#freshblood

Check out some of the other goods:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/books-anthos/

https://lawrencedagstine.com/magazine-credits-dagstine/

Order the Post-Apocalyptic SATIRICA ANTHOLOGY:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/04/27/satirica-anthology-nominated-for-ippy-award/

Some of the merch, some of the profits.

Some of the merch, some of the profits.

Fresh Blood scores BIG in Brooklyn, New York!

Fresh Blood scores BIG in Brooklyn, New York!

Even more merch; Dagstine bulk filled almost two big suitcases

Even more merch; Dagstine bulk filled almost two big suitcases

It was a great few days.  My count may be off, but I pushed somewhere well over 130 mixed Dagstine titles: hardcovers, softcovers, magazines, etc.

With that said, I’m off to eat in my favorite sushi restaurant.  I feel like a kid living his dream.  Once again, thank you!

Lawrence R. Dagstine 😉

Lawrence Dagstine: “FRESH BLOOD Signings…”

Come join prolific short story writer, Lawrence R. Dagstine — scifi, fantasy, horror and more! — at Coney Island’s “Summer of Signings”.  Twice a week, every other week this summer at Thor Equities’ new DREAMLAND! — Festival by the Sea

Flea by the Sea
Flea by the Sea

 VENDOR DETAILS:

http://www.fleabythesea.com/about.php

Brooklyn Author, Lawrence R.  Dagstine will be signing copies of his new short story collection FRESH BLOOD, rare hardcovers, anthologies, and obscure pulp magazines and more at FLEA BY THE SEA! Stay tuned for booth locations and exact dates.

WHY COME HERE? 

http://www.fleabythesea.com/why-come-here.php

FIVE MILLION PEOPLE — THAT’S WHY!

And the amusement park, and other sellers, and the beach! Loads of fun!

http://www.fleabythesea.com/rent-a-tent.php

Stay tuned for times and dates.   Transportation by subway and other details can be found on the site.  Times are usually weekends, 12pm to sundown (or 9pm)! Off-peak dates will be updated here depending on booth availability.

Sam's Dot Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

 Also available from THE GENRE MALL:

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#freshblood

 Other New Entries: “Public Events”

Lawrence Dagstine: 340 Publishing Credits…!

I’m sometimes amazed at myself, but I don’t know if I really should be.  I mean, for a part-timer, I’ve accomplished something most small press authors only dream about, and in a very short space of time.  I’ve made lots of friends and contacts these past few years, and introduced them to other friends and contacts.  I’ve helped newer authors get published in print and paying markets.  I’ve shared worthwhile publishing experiences and learned lots of beneficial marketing techniques.  And if it wasn’t for genre, I doubt I’d be where I’m at today.  Proofreading and freelancing! At the same time, I’ve learned stuff about various industries and writing circles, held up a middle finger, and made a handful of enemies.  But I’m still here.  I keep on trucking.  After 340 Publishing Credits I’ve proven to myself that I can work the trenches, and I do it with integrity.  When I go to sleep at night my accomplishments seem rather small in comparison to most everybody else, but at least I can stare at myself in the mirror and not look away.   I’ve built up a persona and a small fan base — and I have nothing but love and respect for that fan base.  I’ve shown many that the Dagstine Recipe not only works, but hey, I sell certain products and entertain the average reader, too.

Some writers herald me as this hero, others a danger to some kind of ridiculous inner sanctum.  But when a new writer sends me an email, saying, “Lawrence, thank you so much for suggesting that market.  They accepted my story, and I got paid for it!” Then I know I did my job for the day.  Matter of fact, I get more enjoyment out of that than my own writing.  Seeing other, deserving writers happy.

Between now and next spring you’ll see new anthologies, new webzines, and a ton of magazines featuring yours truly! There’s two collections in the horizon, too.  You might see me at a few local signings and events, a few library readings, so stop in to say hi.  As I surpass 25,000 blog hits, and 340 magazine and webzine credits, I’d love for you to be here Halloween…and for the next six months to follow…

The milestone celebration begins October 2008, and it lasts for 40 blog entries~  BE HERE!

Cheers,

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Other New Entries: “About Me”

Lawrence Dagstine: why I write short stories…

Many an aspiring author — and professional, too — has asked me over the past year why I write short stories.  Or, at the very least, why I choose to.  Naturally, it’s a field you won’t get rich from.  Matter of fact, if you happen to be one in that ten-thousand median author range to be on the lookout for, chances are you probably won’t even break the $5000 mark per year from all sources “writing-related”.   If you write novel-length genre works, major houses will usually yield print runs of 3000 copies.  Everybody wants a piece of the pie; the only thing is, there is no pie.  There are so many micro-presses these days that anybody can become a writer.  In most cases, this has screwed up the marketplace; I blame this slow literary death on technological globalization.

So what do we do to assure ourselves a cut and immortality? We annex and fan-club the profession.  This isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s all we’ve got right now until we come up with a better game plan, right? At the same time, I also believe we shouldn’t write for the masses because you never know what might work or what might not. 

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

The writing game is the extra income game, but it’s also the poor man’s game.  Which brings me back to my original topic: why short stories? Hey, why not? Life is short, and you should get your voice heard no matter what the venue.  That’s my philosophy.  But rather than tell you what motivates me to write short stories, why I prefer it over the long form (not to say there isn’t anything in the works; that’s for another day), and why I still persist at it… Well, I decided to search the Internet for like-minded individuals.  People who prefer to write short stories, too.

The first is Bev Vincent (author of The Road to the Dark Tower).  Every once in a while I do find a little gem of a post over at Storyteller’s Unplugged.  Bev is always astute and charming in his posts, and with this particular blog entry, he practically took the words right out of my mouth.  Because these are my very same thoughts.  Along with that, I’ve provided a few other links on why it really doesn’t matter, why sometimes it does, and on how what I mentioned above is so true… Life being short, so just submit…

WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES by Bev Vincent (Storyteller’s Unplugged):

http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/why-write-short-stories

 HOW MUCH DOES WRITING PAY by Nut (The Writer’s Coin):

http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2008/09/04/how-much-does-writing-pay/

 MY WIFE IS RUINING MY DREAMS by Chris Cope (Life Files):

http://www.theindychannel.com/family/16557240/detail.html

Also, the last time I did a post of this nature I forgot to stress the importance of an editorial filter, and I didn’t focus enough on non-fiction writing.  My last rant was geared more toward genre, and I apologize for that.  However, in the same fashion, I’d rather you read “How” and “Why” I do it (and what’s to be had from it), from the likes of others, rather than myself.  And in their own words.

HOW TO WRITE FOR MAGAZINES by Jason Arnopp (Bloggery Pokery)

http://jasonarnopp.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-write-for-magazine.html

SMALL PRESS MAGAZINES: SHOULD YOU BOTHER? by Bruce Boston

(Sam’s Dot Publishing/Writing World.Com)

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/boston.shtml

THE AMATEUR vs. PROFESSIONAL MYTHOS

FREELANCE PROFESSIONAL WRITERS HATE AMATEUR WRITERS by Lance Winslow

http://ezinearticles.com/?Free-Lance-Professional-Writers-Hate-Amateur-Writers&id=227821

HOW WRITERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE SHORT STORY MARKET by Paul Turner 

http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/how-writers-can-benefit-from-the-short-story-market-469055.html

WHAT MAKES A WRITER A PROFESSIONAL by Bruce Byfield

http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/what-makes-a-writer-a-professional/

INTERNET SMACKDOWN: THE AMATEUR VS. THE PROFESSIONAL by Tony Long

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/theluddite/2007/06/luddite_0621

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and submit that story.  As the professionals mentioned in the links above, these are the same exact reasons “Why” and “How” I do it.  And always remember, just because you’re not getting a piece of the pie, doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. 😉

Cheers.

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Midnight in Hell: Issue 2.2, Autumn 2008… (appearances)

Another old-schooler in the horror genre (after a few years hiatus and formerly being a print mag), story No. 300 comes to MIDNIGHT IN HELL.  Entitled “Departure Flight”, this story is not for the faint of heart…lol… nah, just kidding.  Seriously though, Midnight in Hell is a fantastically entertaining webzine.  Some big names in the U.S. and UK have appeared there in more recent years: Rhys Hughes, Des Lewis, Willie Meikle, Paul McAvoy, and Amy Grech among others.

  Midnight in Hell 2.2 – Autumn 2008

 http://www.midnightinhell.com/

Issue 2.2 Fiction by: Paula Villegas, David Byron, Isaiyan Morrison, Alexandra Ash, Robert Holt, and Lawrence Dagstine…

Midnight in Hell, Autumn 2008… (coming soon!)

Fiction Story No. 300 goes live in about a month or two in a web publication that has been celebrated both online and, originally, in print; hard to believe I’m already up to 330.  MIDNIGHT IN HELL made its debut in 1990, the good old days of short fiction.  It dropped out of existence for a while.  Then, in the last two years, it returned better than ever.  Only this time with a web presence.   Over the last two decades, the authors who have appeared there have gone many places, and their work just as celebrated. 

www.midnightinhell.com

Their current issue is some kind of tribute issue (summer 2008).  It features the work of: D.F. Lewis, Rhys Hughes, Shaun Jeffrey, Willie Meikle, Paul McAvoy, Todd Mecklem & Jonathan Falk.

Past issues or editions have featured: Alexandra Ash, Eric S. Brown, David Byron, Arianrhod Darkwing, Christopher Allan Death, Bryan DiTolvo, Brandon Ford, Inanna Gabriel, Ken Goldman, Amy Grech, Rhys Hughes, Robert Holt, Sarah Jackson, Shaun Jeffrey, Dan Kopcow, D.F. Lewis, Alison littlewood, Paul McAvoy, Iain McLachlan, Rick McQuiston, Willie Meikle, Isaiyan Morrison, David Nordahl, Nik Perring, Mike Philbin, David Price, James Riser, Deon C. Sanders, Tom Smith, Jim Steel, Paula Villegas, Jon Walsh, and many MORE from the 90’s old school printing press days.

I’ve added a link to the right.  In a month or two, when it premieres, I’ll add a reminder post.

Other New Entries: “About Me”

Lawrence Dagstine: 300 Publishing Credits…!

As I am typing this, I’m looking over my shoulder.  There are hundreds of magazines and old fanzines, contributor copies and duplicates, scattered across my couch and living room floor.  My name is either plastered on the covers, inside the table of contents, or a story of mine is illustrated between the pages.  I took them out tonight — all of them — along with a nice tall glass of zinfandel, to celebrate my 300th! Imagine, 300 fiction acceptances to paying, print, and online venues.  A road I had set out on some twelve years ago.  And here, in my 34th year of life, some 250 short stories later, I did it.  I really did it…

I’m looking once again at the floor in amazement.  There are so many of these publications that I can’t even imagine how this whole writing bug started again; I can’t even get across the room to my kitchen, which just goes to show you how much of a fire hazard they are.  Most of them are Small Press, a publishing level I hold dear to my heart and have a ton of respect for.  Many of the names in these magazines have gone on to become well-known superstars in the world of fiction — some even with book deals  — and this is how it starts really.  It’s the way it happened with names like Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Brian Aldiss, A.E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Frederick Pohl, Philip Jose Farmer, Robert E. Howard, Robert Silverberg, John Campbell, and about a thousand others.  These writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have one thing in common.

They all started out submitting to short story magazines or fanzines.

the300.jpg

I guess now it finally comes down to compiling that extensive bibliography of mine.  Then again, what if I want to go for short story no. 350 or 400? At the moment, DF Lewis holds the record for most accepted speculative fiction in an individual’s lifetime.  Des Lewis has about 2,500 to 3,000 publication credits, I believe.  Prolific author Ken Goldman is just around the corner from reaching 500.  And here I am, I’m sure with a few talented others, at the 300 mark.

I’ve been asked quite often what it’s like to be a writer. Do I enjoy the writing lifestyle. Yes and no was my answer.  It’s a very antisocial, reclusive field.  It’s also a terrible addiction, like drugs or alcohol.  It’s a demon.  The one that haunts you and makes you pour your soul out on a keyboard at three, four in the morning.   And when you write at a pace like I do, you tend to get burned out rather quickly.  Some folks tell me: “Wow, so you’re an author.  I wish I could be a writer.  I’ve always wanted to live that sort of life.”

No, you don’t! Trust me.  If you’re looking at it economically these days, you’ll most likely make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds. The reason we do it is because we have no choice, and we put ourselves in this hole.  A pit filled with storytellers.  So if you decide you want to get into it more seriously, well, tread lightly.  Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the depression, the mixed bag of emotions, and the less-than-exciting, hair-pulling moments that go with the job title writer!

 the300_part2.jpg

With the Internet and technology rapidly changing the environment we live and work in, if someone were to ask me what does writing resemble most nowadays, I’d have to say muckraking, or just compare it to three professions: Baseball, Professional Wrestling, and Hollywood Acting.

If baseball were truly about writing, I would be David Wright.  I’m just one of those young Amazin’ Mets, catching flyball acceptances and paid homeruns to center.  But there’s really no difference between the two professions.  You have your minor league players and your major league players, and here and there a writer proves himself by hitting a certain average.  Coaches and teams talent scout and, after a certain amount of time, bring a writer up to the majors and offer them a deal.  And like the N.Y. Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, writing has its own little cliques and rivalries, too; this part, however, can be blamed on the Internet.

I remember being a fan of wrestling years ago, back when the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were still members of what became the WWE.  I remember being a fan of Edge (Adam Copeland), back in 2000 when he wrestled the Dudley Boys and the Hardy Boys in those TLC tag-team matches.  Back then his partner was Christian, and they were rookies to the sport, trying to win belts and pay their dues, get their acceptances like with writing fiction.  Now look at Edge.  He’s the WWE’s recent World Champion.  It takes a long time, but if Edge were an author, well, he’d have earned his way to the top of the ladder and got his novel deal by now.  So yeah, wrestling, too, is very much like writing. 

Then last you have Hollywood Acting.  I write for a buck and to entertain in print, which I suppose makes me a freelancer.  If I were an actor or actress, regardless of the script, I’d probably be Samuel L. Jackson or Angelina Jolie.  Why? Because the way I submit stories to anywhere and everywhere, these two famous people take any role available.  But then you have the slightly more conscientious Hollywood alumni: Denzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and Leonardo DiCaprio.  They choose their roles and scripts carefully; hell, Daniel Day Lewis stars in a movie once every four years and is nominated for it every time.

the300_2.jpg

Writing is really a love-hate sort of relationship with me.  One day I like it, the next I just don’t.  Which is why on people’s requests I decided to return to my artistic roots and start up Soberiffic Arts (2009).  I miss drawing…  And now with computers and Adobe Photoshop, so much more can be expressed and done with it.  But I’ve always been creative.  Next year I also plan on taking a break from short stories, returning to examine my potential with the novella, turning fiction into memorable art rather than freelancing for fiscal purposes, take my time now that I have all these magazine credits and an actual publisher, kind of like actors do, and choose my roles carefully.  And don’t think gunning for the three-hundred mark wasn’t a personal goal of mine.  Hey, I’ve already got the Bronze, I have a decent amount of Silvers, and now just feels like the right time to go for the Gold… 

Somewhere between all these acceptances I forgot to mention one of the most important things.  I became a father.  Family beats out all the successes of the written word any day.  You know why? Because in the end, none of this matters.  This is just filler.  You live for the moment.  It’s here today, gone tomorrow.  And so are we. 

So here it is, one last time.  Three hundred publishing credits.  Or, as I call it, The 300, for tonight we dine in hell…!

Fellow readers, I bid you good night…

…and until my next acceptance.

Lawrence R. Dagstine

p.s.: For those of you wondering where No. 300 came, just click the link below.  It came to Midnight in Hell (www.midnightinhell.com), for their Autumn 2008 Issue…

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2008/03/09/midnight-in-hell-september-2008-acceptance/