Friday, December 01, 2006


This was my entry for Horror World's Flash Fiction contest. Although I didn't win I did get what I'd call a "positive rejection" so I'm happy. Feel free to let me know what you think!


“Luke, we’re ready!”

Marni scoffed. Who could be ready for this? she thought, absently biting at her fingernail. Mom noticed her discomfort and offered her a cup of hot chocolate.

“Now, now, honey. No frowns on Christmas.”

That joyful Christmas morning smile. If only the eyes would match it.

Under the tree, Dad counted the presents, intent on playing his role in their twisted little play.

From upstairs came a grunt.

Mom continued to offer Marni the chocolate.

Footsteps began making their way down the stairs. Heavy, uneven. More like thuds.

Marni stood up. Dad shot her a glance.

Her chest heaved, restraining a scream. Not this again.

“Marni, please” Mom begged, and stretched her smile as much as she could. Her arm was getting tired of holding out the cup. She’d spill it any second now.

Marni grabbed the cup before Mom made a mess. Things were bad enough already.

Mom sighed, her eyes inviting Marni to sit back down.

Marni did. Mom grabbed her hand, kissed her fingers.

“I’m not coming next year,” Marni blurted.


“I’d rather spend Christmas at the dorm, I swear to God.”


Dad’s voice, stern. He bore the no-nonsense expression of a father who’s heard enough whining.

Settle down now, Marni. Play along.

Marni could see the dread behind, weighing on his features.

Luke reached the bottom of the stairs with a wail. Marni thought she was ready for the shock, every year she thought she was, but taking it in was never easy. As her younger brother made its way toward the couch, dragging the stump it had for a foot, glaring at them with that only black eye, Marni clutched a cushion until the fabric ripped under her fingernails.

“Marni, please,” Mom whispered.

Fine, she thought. She’d play along.

Dad picked up a present. Mom wound a music box. Inside a crystal dome, Santa and Jack Frost danced to “Deck the Halls”.

“This one’s for you, son,” Dad said.

Luke mumbled something, words colliding with the spit dripping from its chin.

“Oooh,” Mom said, “I wonder what it is!”

Her brother’s deformed fingers clawed at the wrapping.

It’s a train, it’s always a fucking train!

And it was, of course. Luke picked it up, held it over its head and gurgled in approval, that sick, disgusting sound.

Marni shut her eyes. Beside her, Mom cuddled Luke, laying a kiss on its leathery skin.

“This one’s for you, Marni,” she heard her father say. When she opened her eyes she saw him holding a bright red box.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” he said.

It was Luke’s guttural cry what made her take the gift.

Mom smiled.

Dad smiled.

And with every shred of will, she smiled.

Luke’s cry stopped.

I won’t be coming next year, she told herself. No way in hell.

But for now she’d play her part.

For her family. And for Luke. No one wanted a tantrum this year.

No one wanted Dad to lose another arm.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Closeness of Friends Abroad - An AW Chain Post

That's right, it's time for another AbsoluteWrite chain post. Before me, Cath was talking a little about culture clash, about how it feels for a foreigner to suddenly be immersed in a different culture, with lots of different traditions.

I have my personal story when it comes to cultures and traditions. For those who might not know, I live in Peru, which for many might be an exotic place. Well, add to that a very close, very special friend of mine on the other side of the planet, and my view of the world increases exponentially.

Two years ago (was it two?) I was in a vaery similar community called My Writer Buddy where I met a real special member called Bhaswati, but who everyone called by her nick, Sury (Suryamukhi = sunflower). Sury is from India by the way. I didn't share much with her at the beginning, other than a "how do you do?". It all change when I made a crit on one story she wrote, one I really liked. From then on we started to chat. I recall back when I worked at the office, I used to spend lunch time before the computer chatting with her for one hour. And we had so much to share, about food, religion, transportation, different local traditions. She'd talk about Durga Puja and Indian deities and I'd talk about local ingredients, rituals, etc.

Today we are the best of friends, and I dare to say our view of the world is a bit bigger. We've shared everything from pictures to national anthems and we are inseparable, even from opposite ends of the world. Who could have thought that I'd run into this very special person who lives in such an exotic country and that we'd become the best of friends? It's always a mystery the things life keeps under it's sleeve for us. Bhalo Theko, Sury! This post is for you ;) .

Enough of me now, let's see what Quidscribis at Peregrinas has to say. If you want to follow this chain, here are the participants.







Atomic Bear


XThe NavigatorX








Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Walk Down the Hall of Fame - An AW Chain Post

Well, it's once again my turn in the AbsoluteWrite Chain Post (this is their 6th Chain and the second one I participate in). Before me, Gillian was giving us her thoughts on how she regards fame and how much a part of it would she like.

Many people who look at the writing world from the outside believe that a writer is directly linked to the concepts of fame and fortune. They are used to watching these characters in movies, with their tweed jackets signing copies and drinking wine with hot editors. Most of us within the business have a more realistic view of things. Yes, writers also struggle to make ends meet, sometimes more dramatically than others. Let's face it, the world can only have so many Stephen Kings, J.K. Rowlins or Dan Browns. Of course I believe all aspiring writers (like me) want to get up there with them, but on our way we still need to worry about the bills and that horrible day job.

But the question is... do we really want to be up there with those names? Ok, sure we want, but... are we ready for it?

As I'm sure is the case with many of the peeps at AW, I love to get that comment, that email, that post saying "wow, I loved your story, you are really good". And when it comes from someone within the business, like an editor or another writer, it's a joyful moment. I want more, and more. But just how more can I handle? Am I ready to be recognized in the street by a housewife who will run up to me and ask me to sign her copy of my latest novel? Well, I'm sure the first few times I wouldn't mind at all. But what about when the number of housewives (or any other demographic, just using an example) increases? What happens the day I don't want to be recognized when I take a stroll down the street or run some errands at the grocer?

Someone once said "you are not truly famous until you have a stalker". A man once broke into Stephen King's house raving something about one of his titles. When he didn't find King, he terrorized his wife. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Do I want to be at this point of fame? Tough one. I sure want to be recognized, but I think what I want more is the credit, the pat on the back, more than the "groupies". I don't know about the rest of you but me, I'm afraid to say I'm not the most sociable person in the world, I'm actually very stuck to myself and to my few good friends (they know who they are =:) ). I'm also not good in crowds so I avoid them as much as I can. So, up to a certain point, I enjoy my peace and quiet. Jeopardizing it is not something I'm really ready for.

Does this mean I let that affect my dream of becoming a great horror writer? Not really. I do want the fame and fortune, it's the consequences I'm wary of. But then, another saying goes "never look at horse in the mouth". Whatever the future brings I hope I can embrace it, and above all, I hope I can enjoy it.

What about you? Are you ready for the consequences?

Maybe Cath at Curioser and Curioser will want to answer to this question. In any case, I know you won't want to miss what she has to say.

If you'd like to read the other posts in this 6th chain, here are the links:




Just a Small Town Girl

A View From the Waterfront

Southern Expressions

Mad Scientist Matt

Organized Chaos

At Home, Writing

Writing From Within

Pass the Torch


Fireflies in the Cloud

Sounds of Serenity

Kappa no He

Infinite Vanity

Gillian Polack

Of Chapters and Reels

Curiouser and curiouser

The Road Less Traveled



Friday, August 18, 2006

The Kindness of Others - An AW Chain post

Well, it's my turn -not to mention my first time- on the AW Chain, a great blogging exercise by the folks at I was just tagged by Kelly at Organized Chaos and among the experiences she wrote about, one thing reminded me of an incident a few years back when I was still in college. You see, Kelly mentioned this friend who offered to pay her share in order for her to go on a trip with friends. It is indeed a moving experience when you meet such kindness from people who are your friends, but it becomes even more special when it comes from someone you are not that close to.

I had a 1/4 scholarship when I entered college here in Peru but that didn't make it easy for me. You see, since I was coming from a "rich hich school" (even when I was anything but rich) I was immediately tossed into the higher paying category, which was estratospherical and a very big problem for me. I remember going to the financial aid department saying my family couldn't afford this category and the lady there said something like "you should have thought of that before applying".

Anyway, I managed to get through the first couple of terms with huge sacrifices and I eventually got a job on campus with a woman who turns out was the wife of the head of Student Aid. Who knows whether I would have been able to finish college without her help, but there she was, out of the kindness of her heart, putting in the good word for me.

So eventually things got more manageable but never easy. You see, tuition was not such a big problem anymore, but courses demanded some money for some projects. On my 8th term (the program had 10) I enrolled in a TV Production course which I needed for my specialty (Media). Our project was to produce 2 episodes of a soap opera with everything that implied: actors, props, food, equipment, etc. As you can imagine, this was quite a problem for me.

When things got really bad and money began to become a problem not just for me, our group (7 of us) decided to raise funds by helping organize the faculty's fraternity lunch. So there we were, all day buying food, making sandwiches, handing out beers... and losing money by the minute. By the end of that day we were deep in the red and now we not only had the course to pay but we had to cover the losses.

So there I was. The following Monday I was ready to walk up to the teacher and say I was dropping out because I simply could not afford the project. Seconds before I walked in the group said they were having a meeting upstairs. I went there and this guy, Gastón Vizcarra, said "you don't worry, I'm gonna cover your part, you pay me whenever you can". And that was it. The group immediately moved onto some other issue and I was left there standing holding back tears (yup, tears).

Gastón was a great person, fun to be around, but we were never really close. But that was him. And that's the way some people are. They are there ready to help others. It was a touching experience I would never forget.

Eventually I did pay him back. And I passed the course too ;)

So there we go. The next in the chain is Just a Small Town Girl.

If you want to follow the whole chain, which I invite you to do, here you go:


Pass the Torch

The Road Less Travelled

Fireflies in the Cloud

Even in a Little Thing

The Secret Government Eggo Project

Curiouser and Curiouser

At Home, Writing

Mad Scientist Matt's Lair

I, Misanthrope - The Dairy of a Dyslexic Writer

Beyond the Great Chimney Production Log

Flying Shoes

Everything Indian

The Hal Spacejock Series

Organized Chaos

Of Chapters and Reels

Just a Small town girl

Midnight Muse

Kappa no He

Hope you enjoyed this post, a bit different from what you might expect to find but no less fun.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shadow Regions

Here's something really special I'd like to share with all of you. As some of you might know, last year I started an anthology project called Shadow Regions. I grew up in the 80s and I remember growing up mesmerized by the different anthology TV shows that were on back then (The New Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, etc.). It was those stories which fueled my desire to become a writer, to create tales of my own, to have a taste of those worlds created by such names as Rod Serling and Richard Matheson.

I love horror, but I've always prefer the psychological aspect of horror. The unease. The fright. The restlessness. These things in my opinion don't need to be triggered by a monster, a ghost, a vampire or anything similar. They can be activitated in a very subtle way by just a peek of the supernatural, and it can happen to anyone. So that's what I wanted to get for Shadow Regions. Stories that dealt with everyday people whose lives are inevitably change by a supernatural event.

I got lots of great stories during the selection process, and it was hard to settle for only 20. But I really like every single one of them. I love the fact that John Shea's "The Bus Ride", while being the longest of the 20, pulls me into this nerve-wrecking atmosphere and doesn't let me go until the end. I love Chris Hawkins' "The Painfully Slow Seduction of Aldus Lamb" where the spark of an office crush starts the fire of a lifetime obsession. I love Trent Roman's "Lost & Found" and how it instantly took me back with a classic tale of the supernatural about two boys and a magic box. I love the fear in A.C. Wise's "Under the Bed" and the smothering heat in William Carl's "Three Days"; the anxiety in Nick Tyler's "Invisible"; the poignancy in Lon Prater's "A Road Like This, At Night"; the need for love in Brian Rappatta's "Passage". I love the way the real world collides with a picture perfect sceneario painted by Lynn Carney in "Pulse".

These are just a few. I love them all.

After so many months I am so glad to inform that Shadow Regions is finally up for presale at the Surreal Magazine website and at This beautiful trade paperback will be ready for distribution in September. In the meantime you can read a great review at HorrorScope.

Thanks to everyone who showed their support for this product. Now I can only hope that you will enjoy this collection as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nightmares & Dreamscapes

Starting tonight, TNT wil be showing "Nightmares & Dreamscapes", an anthology 4-episode series based on stories by Stephen King. Each episode will contain two stories, starting with "Battleground" (from Night Shift) and "Crouch End" (from Nightmares & Dreamscapes). Future episodes are:

July 19
"Umney's Last Case"
"The End of the Whole Mess"

July 26
"The Road Virus Heads North"
"The Fifth Quarter"

August 2
"Autopsy Room Four"
"You Know They've Got a Hell of a Band"

For complete information on the episodes, trailers, interviews, and much more, visit

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Perfect Nightmare

The prolific John Saul has a new book ready to be published called In the Dark of the Night which should be hitting bookstores later this month. In the meantime, I suggest picking up his previous novel, Perfect Nightmare, a gripping thriller that will sure keep you reading past your bedtime.

Perfect Nightmare tells the story of the Kara Marshall, a woman who has made the tough decision of leaving the nice little town where she lives and moving to the city where her husband Steve works. Even though the move will help them financially and will also help to breach the ever-growing gap between Kara and Steve, the news is of course not well received by their 17-year-old daughter Lindsay. But suddenly all plans come to a screeching halt when Lindsay is kidnapped from her own room after the house is put on the market. When the police takes charge, they of course believe the kid is just making her parents feel guilty about the whole move.

Little do they know.

For they are not dealing with an isolated case. There is someone out there. A sick, delusional person who keeps watching. Someone who has been doing this again and again as he sets up the conditions to display an unimaginable scenary.

Perfect Nightmare is a pageturner. It is a great, little novel with all the elements of a classic psychological thriller: here we have a victim, a brave young girl with a mind focused on surviving; we have a parent -in this case the mother- who will stop at nothing to find her; and, we have a deranged psychopath who justifies his madness and records everything in a sick journal. Add to that the supporting neighbor who has been through a similar experience and who becomes a source of solace, and a husband whose role is pretty much decorative. The book succeeds in grabbing the reader from the start and never letting go. This is one novel that you can read in one sit (if you have the time; personally it's something I'd love to do but simply can't). The situations Saul creates and the reactions these cause on the characters are really well crafted and make the reader feel sympathy for the victims. The suspense scenes work very well and the book in general is set on moving the action forward instead of stopping at points for the sake of description or flashbacks. You could say this book has an economy of words and just goes straight to the point (as opposed to, for example, a Dean Koontz novel, where the vocabulary and word-weaving has a weight of its own). I would like to add I'm glad there was no hint of romance between Kara and her neighbor Patrick, something that has been plaguing a LOT of the thrillers I've read in the last few years.

Of course not everything in Perfect Nightmare is flawless. Unfortunately the book starts turning a bit predictable on it's last third. Saul not only leaves a few lose ends but he even raises some genuine questions in the last chapter, only to later say "guess we will never know". Mmmm. I do think we should know.

But don't let this discourage you. Pick up Perfect Nightmare. It's one of the most entertaining reads you will find.