I’m thrilled to announce that Quarter Press has released the second volume of The Quarter(ly)Journal. It offers fantastical poetry, fiction, comics, and art by award-winning authors and artists, and includes my story “An Alignment of Wood and Water.”
Zach Benson is a master carpenter who builds special projects for special clients along the North Carolina coast. He returns to a client’s house to handle a complaint, something he absolutely dreads having to do. The disgruntled client is a newcomer to the area who lives in an isolated bungalow on Pamlico Sound. She’s a novice witch who claims Zach did not make a witching floor according to her specifications.
As Zach inspects the floor’s enchanted shapes of ash, oak, and cedar, a mysterious figure shows up outside. It takes Zach a while to get his nerve up, but he decides to confront the intruder.
It’s a scary/fun story featuring a creepy familiar, a dreamy shoreline, blue-collar stoicism, and a magical showdown. It also includes my thoughts on malignant do-gooderism. Please check it out! Quarter(ly) Journalis now available atAmazon.
Most of my stories arise from an image I can’t get out of my head. The only relief is to transform that image into a story, and that process inevitably taps into deep-seated concerns. When I recently re-read H.P. Lovecraft’s classic Nyarlathotep, one vivid scene stuck in my imagination:
And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.
“Social Network“ imagines a malignant presence just as frightening as the one Lovecraft described, though in the form of a technological pandemic no vaccination can stop.
This spellbinding collection includes mystery sub-genres from cozies to hardboiled, with settings ranging from the traditional country home to the high-tech home office. But every story focuses on the investigators — the “I’s” — who must match wits with the criminals, uncover the facts, and let justice be done.
Of course, the fun is in watching the investigator tackle what seems like impossible odds. (My favorite twist is when it’s not obvious that a crime has been committed.)
My contribution, “The Tell-Tale Armadillo,” was inspired by a near-disaster for me and my wife. A natural gas explosion in an adjacent subdivision blasted a two-million-dollar house into scrap and rattled several nearby neighborhoods. Debris flew over a half-mile away.
Sure, it was terrifying at the time, but you know the old saying — nothing bad ever happens to a writer — it’s all inspiration. And, yes, the title is a riff on a couple of Edgar Allan Poe stories.
Now this is an unexpected surprise. TheYear One Anthology for Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine features all 20 pieces from Hexagon’s successful and groundbreaking first year. There are bonus pieces as well, such as author interviews and new cover concept art.
The anthology includes my flash fiction story Mirrors, which was published in the magazine’s premiere issue. I wrote it after re-reading Dr. Lewis Thomas’ book,The Lives of a Cell, which made me realize how an alien species would marvel at how cooperative humans are despite our aggressive tendencies. I was pleased atDidi Oviatt’s review: “Tuggle’s story of an insight about predatory creatures is a thought-provoking read.”
The year: 2030. Zach Martine is a prisoner in the Alzheimer’s pod at a maximum security unit. A former soldier, his crime was to tell the world what he’d witnessed on the battlefield. He followed his conscience and now pays the price.
Hated by the other prisoners, he spends his days dodging deadly attacks. Nights find him unable to sleep, haunted by a relentless guilt for his past actions. Martine knows he deserves punishment, but not for the reason he’s in jail. Day after day, the injustice tears at him.
But he finds a way out, a way that allows him to escape while remaining true to his conscience.
The inspiration for this story hit me when I read about prisoners volunteering for medical experiments. One of the prisoners told the reporter he’d agreed to the program because he felt it was a way to atone for the harm he’d done.
I could not get the prisoner’s statement out of my mind. This story grew out of that unforgettable confession.
Treka Dunn, the senior investigator for the county Medical Examiner’s office, is positive the deceased in her latest case, Davis Washburn, died of natural causes. However, Davis’s autistic son Ron believes his father was poisoned. When a toxicology exam reveals no evidence of foul play, Treka tries to explain the findings to Ron.
But when Ron tells her about his last conversation with his father, Treka realizes she’s made a serious mistake.
This is my second appearance in Mystery Weekly Magazine. My first story with them, “The Calculus of Karma,” was a sci-fi/mystery mash-up. “Absence of Evidence” is a procedural crime story, with a gold mine of technical detail. For me, the background research for a story is a huge part of the joy of writing, and “Absence” was a challenge that occupied me nearly two months. The plot also owes a great deal to my years as a workflow analyst.
Which proves that with enough effort and just the right amount of devilish imagination, you can write a story about anything.
I want to give special thanks to two technical advisers who provided invaluable information about the inner workings of hospitals. One is my daughter, Lt. Jessica Fields, an experienced RN who’s now an Air Force nurse. The other is Betty Vuncannon Crowley, an RN who went on to hospital administration. I am eternally grateful to both.
Idle Ink has published my latest flash story, “A Good Couple.” It pays tribute to Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite authors. Like the Grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” the characters in “A Good Couple” are so busy condemning the sins of others that they cannot see their own.
This is one of my rare literary pieces. I enjoyed writing it, even though I had to chase down the muse to capture the story on paper.
Idle Ink is the perfect home for this story. This lively magazine publishes fiction “too weird to be published anywhere else” as well as “articles that poke fun at modern life.” After you’ve read my story, treat yourself to the book and movie reviews, the challenging opinion pieces, and intriguing artwork.
Mystery Weekly Magazine has published my short story “The Calculus of Karma.” It’s a mashup of science fiction and detective fiction, two of my favorite genres. The gorgeous cover art by Robin Grenville Evans captures the story’s tone perfectly.
In the year 2454, Malcolm Lamb is a rookie deputy marshal assigned to a mining colony on the asteroid 16 Psyche. Lamb and his fellow deputies have to constantly break up clashes between Damani Corporation miners and wildcatters. Under its grim surface, Psyche hides a fortune in precious metals, and competition for it ignites raw passions.
When a dead miner is found in an alley behind a popular bar, Malcolm Lamb must find the killer to prevent an escalation in the deadly turf war between the corporate and wildcat miners. With no murder weapon, no suspect, and no clue how the miner was killed, Lamb has to interpret conflicting pieces of evidence before time runs out.
This story was a blast to research and write. A beta reader called it a Wild-West-inspired space adventure with a big chunk of Columbo thrown in. Malcolm Lamb is a bit of a departure from the kind of protagonist I usually write about, but he does embody an heroic principle I admire, best defined by Robert Penn Warren: “If poetry is the little myth we make, history is the big myth we live, and in our living, constantly remake.”
Mystery Weekly is a Mystery Writers of America approved publisher that features original short stories by the world’s best-known and emerging mystery writers. You can buy a Kindle or print copy through Amazon, or get a digital subscription to “the world’s most-read monthly mystery magazine” on Kindle Newstand.
While conducting a solo study of the fauna on Specula C3, Dr. Annette Thatcher witnesses the crash-landing of an alien spacecraft. She rescues Gregarin, the lone survivor of a ship from Etzi, a previously unknown planet. During the weeks Thatcher and Gregarin wait for an Earth rescue shuttle, they learn about each other’s language and culture — and surprising truths about themselves.
The idea for this story came to me while re-reading Dr. Lewis Thomas’ marvelous book, The Lives of a Cell, a beautifully written treasure chest of insights into the interconnectedness of all life. Thomas’ thoughts on collective societies that behave like single organisms got me to imagining how human society would appear to an alien species.
Hexagon Speculative Fiction is a new Canadian publication featuring poetry, fiction, and mixed media from all over the world. Its goal is to blend the fantastic, the absurd, the horrifying, and the humorous.
I was pleasantly surprised to see my short story “Hunting Ground” included in DAOwens Publications’ Unbound – The First Collection. It’s an exciting blend of fantasy and science fiction stories, featuring the themes of the successful Unbound series, including Lost Friends, Changed Worlds, and Goodbye Earth.
Here’s what one reviewer had to say: “I enjoyed M.C. Tuggle’s “Hunting Ground” for its unusual antagonist. CHANGED WORLDS (Unbound Book 2) is a great read for those wanting to spice up their lives with something new.”Ben A. Sharpton, author of 2nd Sight.