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Like scary stories? There are some in here! Don’t like scary stories? There are also non-scary stories! What a deal!

Today’s the day! My short story and poetry collection, THROUGH DARK INTO LIGHT, is now live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will (should?) be available at other online retailers soon. But I know, for sure, that it’s live at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Promise.

But Craig, you may be thinking, How do I know I’ll like any of the stories? I didn’t read your first book because I couldn’t pronounce the title so I don’t know what to expect.

To that I say check out the Vignettes section of this here website. If you’re a frequent reader of the vignettes I post you’ll probably recognize a lot of the stories in the collection, since many of the stories in the collection were originally vignettes that I posted here.

If you need more convincing, here is a list of the stories with a short description of each:

  • Followed: Driving home to his sick daughter, a man is followed by three mysterious vehicles that become more aggressive as he gets closer to home.
  • Nightmare / Dream, Dream / Nightmare: A man’s dream is a woman’s nightmare, until the tables are turned.
  • Real Monsters: A little girl has to decide what scares her more–the monster under her bed or the monsters invading her home?
  • A Night Not to End: A young man tells a strange girl at a party that he wishes the night never had to end, and she grants his wish.
  • The Secret Monster: From childhood a man is terrorized by a creature that tells him the secrets of those he loves.
  • Hit and Run: On his way to a party at a cabin deep in the woods, a teenager hits a family dog and is haunted by the guilt–and the dog.
  • Together Forever (Poem): A poem about being with the person you love as the world ends.
  • A Cold, Silent Nothing: Before a scientist is allowed to use a time machine to travel to the end of the Universe he must first meet with the only other man to make the attempt and learn what he saw that drove him insane.
  • Every Day the Same Dream: A bored office worker varies his routine in an attempt to break the monotony of his life.
  • Say Something New (Poem): A poem about creativity.
  • Distance: The captain of a generation ship uses its resources to clone the wife he left behind until there is nothing left.
  • Eryn’s Dream (Poem): A poem about empathy.
  • Thoughts and Actions in a Car Crash: A man reacts as he rear-ends the car in front of him on an icy road.
  • Ode to the Ellipses (Poem): A poem about the deep meaning of the ellipses.
  • Letter(s) to the Girl(s) I (Once) Love(d): A letter to a girl a young man once loved.
  • A Brief History of Their Love: A chronicle of the relationship between a man and an android, and the extremes each will go to protect or fight for the other.
  • To Go Back: An old man explains the purpose of his time machine to his daughter.
  • Small Decisions: A man is faced with the consequences of his indiscretion.
  • You Will Be Remembered (Poem): A poem about passwords, multi-factor authentication, and sometimes unwelcome reminders.
  • Her Tea: The routines we break and the small imprints we leave in our lives can be the most lasting reminders of love, as one young man learns.
  • A Sixteen Year Old’s Lament (Poem): A poem about pressure, responsibility, and cliche from a sixteen year old’s perspective.
  • The Final Days of Florence: An old woman negotiates with an Angel for three more days of life so that she can make amends with her estranged son.
  • Your Anger (Poem): A poem about watching your parent die from their own mistakes.
  • The Passenger: As a man escorts his father’s corpse across state lines, he is helped by his father’s spirit when he finds himself in bad situations.
  • Cliched Goodbye: In the warm light of sunset two friends say goodbye and reckon with their unspoken feelings.

The collection is organized to start in the dark, with horror stories, and end on a lighter, more reflective note. I think there’s a little something in here for everyone. If you did read ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN and liked it, then you’ll probably like this. If you read ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN and didn’t like it, well this collection is totally different, so give it a shot.

If you enjoy anything I write, leave me some love on Goodreads.

Announcement / Cover Reveal: THROUGH DARK INTO LIGHT

Available October 1st!

From childhood a man is stalked by a creature that tells him the secrets of those he loves. A man’s dream is a woman’s nightmare until she turns the tables. The captain of a generation ship uses its resources to clone the wife he left behind. A woman on her deathbed negotiates a deal with an Angel for three more days to make amends with her estranged son. A teenager runs over a family dog and is haunted by the memory–and the dog.

This eclectic collection guides readers from the darkness of a moonlit highway to a field under the warm light of a late summer sunset. Through these 18 stories and 7 poems you will feel emotions that spill out in great waves of yelling, crying, and laughing and be reminded that sometimes the best way out is through.

Come October 1st, just in time for Autumn (my favorite time of year) and Halloween (my favorite holiday) I’m releasing a collection of short stories and poems. Some will be familiar to anyone that’s kept up with the vignettes I’ve posted–all nine from last year are included in this collection–but many are new.

I’ll write more about it after release, but the collection is meant to take the reader on an emotional journey of horror, existential despair, doomed romance, grief and regret, and unspoken love. I tried to complete an arc in the way the stories are ordered, and in doing so learned lots about themes I’m obsessed with, fears I have, and things that interest me.

The collection will be available in print and ebook at most online retailers.

Behind the Vignette: IN THE DARK WHERE ALL IS LOST

Click on the picture above to read the story.

I struggled with whether or not to publish this story. I wrote it in response to my deepest fear after my son was born: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For the first several months of his life I was downright paranoid about it. That calmed once he learned to roll over and became more dexterous because now I’m confident that if he couldn’t breathe for whatever reason he’d be able to maneuver enough to at least cry out for help. But there are still times when I’ll go into his nursery while he sleeps and gently place my palm against his back or chest to be sure he’s breathing okay.

Writing, and then publishing, our fears makes us vulnerable. There is a lot of vulnerability in this story, which is why I was hesitant to put it up. But there is also a triggering effect. As awful as it is, lots of people have lost children to all sorts of things and have had to move on, somehow. I’m not sure there’s any understanding or relief in this story. It’s built from fear and ends in devastation. I don’t know how I feel about that.

In the end I think it’s important for me to be vulnerable with my fears. By putting it into the world I’m acknowledging that vulnerability and hoping to commiserate with others. I don’t know, it’s strange to write from a place of darkness and be unable to find any light. But there is a place for it, I think. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to say how things are, recognize that bad things happen randomly, for no reason, and then move on from it. Hug someone a little tighter the next time you see them, just as I hug my son every day.

Behind the Vignette: CUSTOM OF THE SEA

Click the photo above to read the story first!

The idea for this story came from one of my favorite pastimes, listening the Aaron Mahnke’s Lore podcast. Specifically, episode 122: The Shortest Straw. In this episode, Mahnke details various acts of cannibalism throughout history, including the saga of the English yacht “The Mignonette.” I was fascinated by what it might feel like to be in the position that eating someone you know might keep you alive long enough to get back to your family.

That said, the story didn’t come easily. I wrote it once, didn’t like it, let it sit for a long time, revisited it and liked it more than I remembered, rewrote it, let it sit, did an edit, etc. The reason for that was twofold:

  1. Whose perspective should the story take? A crew members? The person being eaten? Someone doing the eating?
  2. What tone should the story take? Horrific? Regretful? Melancholic?

Ultimately, I settled on the Captain making a horrific and melancholic decision to sacrifice himself for his crew. Part of me feels like I should have played into the horror aspects of the act more, but I also suspect that’s because I’m on a horror kick in my reading life. I think the approach I take in this story is the more interesting, human one, and better for me as a writer.

What do you think? Would you have liked to see it written differently? Let me know in the comments.

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