Shock Totem Publications to Release Short Story Collection

This Saturday Shock Totem will have on hand at its table at the fourth annual Killercon convention 50 paperback copies of Mercedes M. Yardley’s collection of 27 short stories, Beautiful Sorrows. This will be people’s chance to purchase a copy weeks before it’s official release.

Here is a description of the book from the Shock Totem website, “there is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms. Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs. Darkness will surely devour you—but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so. Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together.”

The entire Shock Totem team, as well as some of their extended staff, will be on hand at the convention, and Yardley will be autographing and reading from her new collection.

According to Shock Totem’s editor K. Allen Wood, this Saturday will be nearly four years to the day that Yardley first submitted to the magazine. Since that day, Yardley has been a contributor to different issues of Shock Totem.

Killercon 4 happens in Las Vegas from Sept. 20 through 23.

If you can’t make it to Killercon, you can preorder the paperback version of Yardley’s collection on the Shock Totem website by clicking here. The site also states “it will be available in limited edition hardcover, paperback and e-book format.”

Shock Totem #5 Debuting in July

It was announced this week that the fifth issue of Shock Totem will be arriving in July. It was supposed to be released in January, but problems arose. According to Publisher K. Allen Wood, the delay was caused by the lack of good submissions. You can read about it here.

The cover for the July issue was also revealed. Check it out below. The cover was done by Mikio Murakami, who has done all the artwork for Shock Totem since issue #3.

Shock Totem #5

Shock Totem #5

Here is the Table of Contents:

* Taking Root by Mercedes M. Yardley (Editorial)

* In Deepest Silence by Ari Marmell

* Girl and the Blue Burqa by D. Thomas Mooers

* Digging in the Dirt: A Conversation with Jack Ketchum by John Boden

* Hide-and-Seek by F.J. Bergmann (Poem)

* Eyes of a Stranger by Nick Contor (Essay)

* Postmortem by Kurt Newton (5-Part Illustrated Micro-Serial)

* Jimmy Bunny by Darrell Schweitzer

* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)

* Little Knife Houses by Jaelithe Ingold (2011 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)

* Canon by Anaea Lay

* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 3 by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)

* The Catch by Joe Mirabello

* Three Strikes by Mekenzie Larsen

* To ‘Bie or Not to ‘Bie by Sean Eads

* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

The issue will be available in print and digital formats. You can preorder the issue here.

Discovering Shock Totem

Discovering Shock Totem

By Jason Harris

Shock Totem: Volume 1

I recently read the first issue of Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted. I had picked up the first four issues at the NEHW booth at the Hebron Harvest Fair in September.

The magazine was first published in 2009 and Publisher K. Allen Wood explains in the editorial how the magazine was created and the different names they had for the magazine before settling on Shock Totem.  It’s a lot better than Papercut Stigmata or Bleeding Penis Pens.

Volume one includes stories about vengeance meted out by childhood toys (“The Music Box”). Author T.I. Morganfield captures the magic of those special toys a person has as they grow up. As you read about Snowflake, you can’t help but think about a darker version of Toy Story. Morganfield even mentions in the “Howling Through the Keyhole” section of the magazine that he took the conflict between the toys in the Pixar movie in a “darker direction.”

In “Murder for Beginners,” the reader is lost as the story begins with a woman holding a shovel as she stands over the body of a dead man. As the tale continues, you find out there is another woman with her. By the end of this interesting story, the reader finds out about these two women plus what connections they have to the guy they are standing over. You are not lost by the end of the story. What Mercedes M. Yardley does with her tale is keep the reader interested and reading. Who wants to stop reading after a story begins with two women standing over a dead body? At that point, you want to know why they killed him or even if they killed him. There are so many questions the reader wants to find the answers to, and Yardley answers those questions.

Baseball fans will enjoy David Niall Wilson’s story, “Slider.” It involves a tale of a ball that has a bloody and cursed history. You don’t even have to enjoy the game of baseball to become engrossed in the story about the death of pitcher Jeb Rabinowicz.

One other story I will mention is Kurt Newton’s “Thirty-Two Scenes from a Dead Hooker’s Mouth,” which tells the story of a prostitute’s life from her death to her birth. It will remind you of the movie Memento, which inspired Newton when he wrote this story. He states, “knowing the outcome of events doesn’t necessarily remove the mystery.”

Shock Totem has a section “Strange Goods and Other Oddities,” which deals with reviews of books, movies, music, and more written by the magazine’s staff. This section reminds me of a similar section within the pages of Fangoria magazine.

The magazine also offers interviews with authors and artists in the horror community such as John Skipp and William Ollie. Those interviews make one want to go to the nearest bookstore and find the books these authors were discussing in these articles.

The “Howling Through the Keyhole” section is great if you want a peek into the writer’s mind. Well, that is if the writer wants to give you a glimpse into their dark playground. Each author has a little blurb about their story and the inspiration behind their story.

I am looking forward to reading the other volumes of the magazine that I own. Click on Amazon or Shock Totem to go to either site to buy any issue of the magazine. The issues are available in print and digital formats except for the Holiday issue, which is only available as an e-book.