Excerpt from “You Only Live Once”, a Horror Story

“What they don’t tell you is what it feels like not to die.

They don’t tell you that the casket isn’t actually padded; that there’s only a bit of cushion under your head and shoulders, and that’s for your family to feel better, not you. You’re supposed to be dead.

They don’t tell you that the backs of your clothes will be cut away, and that you’re not so much wearing them as being covered by them, like lying under a quilt whose pieces are unattached. No one worries about decency, or dignity for that matter, when it comes to dead guys.

There’s no such thing as comfort, when you’re supposed to be dead. Take me: my left leg is broken just under the knee, because by the time they found my body it had stiffened oddly to the side. It’s all in how you fall, see, and it’s hard to worry about the convenient alignment of your body when you’re trying not to die in the first place. They cracked the bone to make it lie neatly in the casket, in case an inquisitive relative (nosey, they said, because they didn’t know I was listening) should happen to peep under the closed end of the box. They want you to look like you’re just resting, like even if you were able to get out, you’d still be there because it’s just so damned comfy.

No one sleeps like this: body ramrod straight, arms on chest, hands twined together. When you go to bed tonight, try it, then tell me if it’s how you’d want to spend eternity.

God, I hope I wink out before eternity.

At least now they’ve stopped fussing at me. I wouldn’t have thought myself a prudish person in life, but somehow when you know that you’re being stripped out of your soiled clothes and laid out, naked, to be washed by strangers, you develop sudden surprising shynesses. You try to remember whether you showered the morning she killed you, and whether or not you wore clean socks. It becomes paramount that the rubber-gloved attendant now seeing to your final needs not be embarrassed or disgusted on your behalf.

That’s not how you’d be remembered, if you could have a say. If they could hear you.”

– from You Only Live Once, a short horror story by Stefanie N Snider.
Get your copy from Amazon or Smashwords now!

How To Procrastinate

Originally posted March 23, 2012.

Are you the type who methodically maps out your writing? Do you break stories or novels down into manageable pieces, finishing a self-imposed quota each day? Do you revel in knowing that your story or article will be complete well before it’s due?

You, my friend, are missing out on one of life’s little joys. I like to call it The Game of Procrastination.

It’s easy to play. First, and most importantly, you need a deadline. Those of you working on spec are lucky enough to have one built in, but for the indies you’ll have to make one up. (If you find yourself procrastinating on even setting a deadline, you are too advanced for this game. Move along.) You need a deadline, because you can’t tell you’re procrastinating until you have one looming over your head.

Now we begin.

Sit yourself down at your computer of choice. You might choose a laptop in a cafe; this is the easy way out. There will be a ton of distractions there, most of which won’t even feel like your fault. No. For this game you should be in the comfort of your own home. Boot up your word program of choice. Crack your knuckles if you need to. Roll your head on your neck. Begin.

Wait. Maybe you should pee first. You don’t want to reach your creative zone only to be interrupted by the rude call of nature. Okay. Now that you’ve taken care of that, begin. Begin, that is, after you’ve formatted your page. You’d only have to do it later so you might as well do it now. Now, try to remember that really delightful phrase you thought of when you were at your day job. What was it? Wait, didn’t you write it down? Maybe it’s still in your pocket. You’ve changed since you got home, though, so you have to dig the pants out of the laundry. The hamper is overflowing; take a quick break to go downstairs and start some laundry.

Pass the kitchen. Make some coffee. That’s what writers do, right? You are A Writer, and you deserve your vices.

Sit down while you wait for it to brew. No point in going up to your computer, only to come back down in five minutes. Efficiency, you are a paragon of efficiency. Notice a couple squirrels on the back deck. Begin to wonder about the connection between those squirrels. Are they siblings? Squirrely little lovers?

Coffee made and back upstairs. Write a line, question the spelling of “fuschia”, look it up online. You spelled it correctly! Congrats! But your Twitter tab shows updates. You should see what’s going on. Someone’s tweeting about a cultural event they’re participating in, and you begin to realize you don’t have a “culture” of your own, sure you know your ancestors originated in Europe but what does that mean, to you, as an individual in a melting-pot nation and you begin to realize how much you don’t know about your own country, for crying out loud, it’s a shame, and you go on Amazon…nay, Chapters.ca because you’re a Canadian, dammit, and you decide now would be a great time to learn about the War of 1812, so you write down the info for the book you want and make plans to buy it later and you’re proud of yourself for not falling into a WikiHole because you have WORK TO DO and your deadline is FAST APPROACHING.

Whew. Back to work. Write a paragraph.

This coffee isn’t strong enough. You’re still sleepy. Maybe grab a quick nap, so you can recharge your creative batteries.

Wake up hours later. Oops. It is dark out. Your deadline is midnight.

Jump on that idea you had, the one about the fuschia monster, and begin to bang the keys. Maybe you should shower. That’s where you do your best thinking. Check the time: you have three hours before your deadline. Okay, a five minute shower. The hot water is relaxing. A fifteen minute shower.

Back at your desk. Throw yourself into the story, try to hit that magical place where you’re seeing the story unfold in your mind’s eye and just capturing it with keystrokes. It’s almost there, dancing maddeningly just out of reach…Check the clock. You have two hours.

Pour it on. Your fingers move without you, like it’s them telling the story, not you, and it’s working, my God it’s working, and you lose yourself in it and you only remember to breathe because some part of your monkeybrain tells you to and you check the clock and it’s down to the last hour. Check your word count. You need twice as many words as you have, so you sit forward and tune out everything around you. The house could burn down around your chair and you would keep typing. You type faster than you even knew you could, and the images and the thoughts flow out of you and it’s like you’re not even there anymore, like the ideas are writing themselves, beamed down from some heavenly Muse and you just have to get the hell out of her way.

Clock check. Half hour. No time for full sentences.

Faster. Sweat prickles. Husband peeks in on the madwoman—Not now! I’ll be human in half an hour!—and you pound the keys and the monster attacks and your hero lives or dies but now is the time to wrap it up, seam the story together and you’re high on the feeling of it and you key the last words in with five minutes to spare.

But you did it. You beat your deadline.

Every time you do this, you tell yourself you’re crazy. Next time you’ll be one of those planners, one of those normal people who don’t kill themselves to race a deadline. You know even as you think it that it won’t happen.

Because you won.

Short Film: “Pop Fiction”

Hilarious new horror from Ryan Stevens. This one had me laughing, alone, on the couch, in the dark.

“Sam and Emma were just like any other couple.. until HE popped in!
A terrifying vintage tale of HORROR… SURVIVAL… and FEAR”

POP FICTION from Ryan Stevens on Vimeo.

Nice work, Ryan! Hope to see more from you.

Dark Side: Seven Repulsive Stories

My first collection of scary tales is now available! Get my first seven short horror stories for a low package price. Contains the stories:

Dump Room
Boogeyman
Screee
Mr Buster’s Bodies
Better Fat Than Dead
Overtime

and my most disturbing story yet, What’s Inside

Yeah. That last one raises some eyebrows.

Ya Gotsta Get Paid: E-Book Sales in America, For Non-Americans

If you’ve found your way here, you just might be a writer. You might be thinking of joining the glamorous world of e-book publishing.

If you wanna make this easy, make sure you’re from the States. Sell stories. Get paid. File your taxes. Boom! You’re done.

If you wanna make it interesting, be from anywhere else.

Welcome to the wild world of cross-border taxes. Exciting, no?

When I first started publishing, I knew I’d have to pay the Tax Man. No problem, I’ll worry about it later, it’s no big deal. But what I didn’t know, and you may not either, is that unless you file the correct paperwork with American-based publishers (Amazon, Smashwords, and the like), they’ll be withholding taxes from your sales right off the top. How does 30% sound? That’s money going to the IRS before you’ve ever seen it. Then, when you get your cheque, guess what? You’ll be paying MORE tax, this time to your own country.

The good news? If you’re in a country that has a tax treaty with the US, you can reduce or even eliminate withholding.

Now, you might be writing “for yourself”, with nary a thought of filthy lucre tainting your artistic dreams. How lovely. But if you don’t want any of your money, why are you selling in the first place?

Let’s be real.

So, what do you need? You’ll need to send a W-8BEN form to your publishers. And before you can file that, you’ll need an ITIN (takes up to ten weeks to get your number). And before you can file that, you’re gonna need a notarized copy of your identification: a passport works well here. Expect that to take another ten days. And the kicker is that the government doesn’t really walk you through the forms. (Though I remember reading that you can call a long-distance number for help, or contact your embassy…)

Luckily, I found someone who’s written up some great instructions, but before I tell you where to find them you need to know that neither she nor I are legal-types in any way. If you’re filing these forms yourself and you need more help, I’m afraid you’re on your own. Sorry ’bout that.

Good? Good.

Go here for ITIN instructions, and here for help with the W-8BEN. Again, I can’t promise anything definitive, but I can say that I used Angela’s instructions successfully.

E-publishing can be tough; don’t make it any tougher by giving away your hard-earned dollars.

Excerpt: “Annabelle”, a Horror Story

I never really loved that child.

I mean, she was an easy birth. And when she got a little older, and I could start putting little bows and ribbons and things on her, she was cute enough.

But I knew right from the start she was evil.

It wasn’t one of those things you could see easily. Hell, I had a hard enough time seeing it myself.

When we’d go out to the market, she’d be sweet as pie. All the old women would come over and tug on those blonde ringlets. They’d caw like ravens and pinch at her cheeks. She’s got these dimples, see, that make the little grannies just about weep with adoration.

I used to tell those biddies they could take her home with them, if they loved her so much. They always giggled from behind their dentures and shook their smiling heads. I wish, just once, that one of them had realized I wasn’t kidding.

I caught the first hints of the demon in her when she’d cry out in the night. Most children, see, they wail. Their little chests suck in all the air they can hold and force it back out, loud as a foghorn through the darkness. Annabelle was different. She hissed. It sounded like a basketful of snakes let loose in her room.

I started turning down the baby monitor. Then I shut it off. Before long, I was closing her door and sleeping with a pillow over my head.

Of course I took her to the doctor; what kind of mother do you think I am? He checked her front and back and upside down and said there wasn’t a damned thing wrong with her. I wanted her to startle at his touch, to cry out so he could hear what I’d heard. She sat there instead, half a hand shoved in her mouth, and the doctor didn’t suspect a thing.

So I bundled her up against the Fall wind and wheeled her back home in her stroller. The strangers we passed all cooed at her. I think that was part of her witchcraft, being able to fool them all like that. They didn’t feel what I felt…

There’s something different about Annabelle. Something unsettling. Something…demonic.
Mommy’s little monster is here.

Annabelle, short horror from Stefanie N Snider

Available now at Amazon

“Feed”, a Horror Excerpt

He’s got that look in his eyes again, the one that only brings trouble. “Buddy,” I warn him, “cool it.”

I know he can hear me, at least on some level, but the part of him I can see is all glassy eyes and stiff body. He’s just like a hound, when he gets like this, and I get that feeling in my gut again. I know something’s going down, and soon.

My brother bobs his head absently to the music from the juke. It’s some of that C&W bullshit he’s always playing on the truck radio. I can’t stand it, myself, all heartbreak and such. Life has enough problems, believe you me, without adding more.

I know all about that.

Buddy’s leaning forward on his stool a little. His massive gut pushes up against the high table but he don’t seem to notice. The bar’s crowded tonight, men drinking off the week. Some came with their own woman. Some came with another man’s.

I get that feeling, and I know he’s seen her.

Her: he doesn’t know her name yet. Might not ever find it out. Don’t matter. She’ll be pretty and brunette. She’ll be drinkin’ like a fish. She’ll be alone, and that’s the part that matters. Buddy knows enough to know that if he’s gonna do what I think he’s gonna do, he’s got to be selective.

He had a close call that one time; closer than I like to remember. I saved his ass when maybe I shouldn’t have but at least the big dummy learned from it.

Then I see her through the crowd. She’s got long brown ringlets, and she’s dressed all in Cowboy, like this is some kinda costume party. Big ol’ mug of beer in one hand, too-high boots on her feet. She’s wobbling, bumping into people, looking at them like they’re the ones not watching their step.

My stomach turns liquid and I worry I might crap myself, right here on this stool in the middle of Corey’s.

“That’s her,” Buddy says, his voice raspy and low.

“No, man. Don’t.”

“She’s the one,” he says, and he’s gone, the stool rocking on half its legs behind him.

“Shit,” I say. I toss the rest of my beer down my throat. I have time for that, at least.

By the time I get to him, he’s already talking in her ear. He’s careful not to touch her, and to someone watching, that might look strange, but I know he can’t help it. He feels safer like that, even though I told him it don’t make a difference. She’s got her eyes half closed, and she’s nodding these big sloppy nods.

She’s the one alright.

Blood is thicker than water, and it’s my job to protect my little brother.
No matter what monstrous things he does.

Grab a copy of FEED for your Kindle, then turn the lights down and get ready. The pigs are hungry…