The name Shock Totem pops up a lot on this blog, to the extent that I feel like a middle school girl drawing hearts on her biology notebook, along with “ST + MW 4-ever.” Or “Mrs. Michael Shocktotem.” I guess that means I have a crush on them.
It’s the first horror magazine/journal I fell for and remains my favorite. While the fiction is nearly always dark in some way, these folks are experts at putting together disparate moods and subject matters that somehow gel into perfect issues. I’m often reminded of a really good mixtape, which makes sense, as Ken Wood, John Boden, and co. are known music freaks. They set a high bar of quality and are a complete pleasure to work with.
My story “Orion,” not to beat a still-living horse, is featured in their current sixth issue. And I’m still excited to hold it in my hands. It was accepted by them one year ago yesterday, in fact, and was my first “elite” professional-pay-rate sale. I also participate in their five-times-a-year flash fiction contest. You have seven days to write a flash (1000 words or less) story based directly on a prompt the ST folks give you. Then all participants (30-40, typically) vote on their top three, points are awarded for each first-place vote, second-place, and so on. Entrants are good about providing feedback on the stories as well, which serves the true purpose of the contest: helping writers hone their craft and learn to become better writers.
At any rate, I’m excited that my story “Everything That Can’t Heal Itself” won the March installment of the contest, as you can read here. Following the final 2013 contest in September, an impartial judge will select one of the five first-place stories to appear in an issue of Shock Totem. I’ve been pretty good about placing in these contests, which is one of my proudest achievements as a writer thus far. I won last March’s contest, in fact, but my story ultimately lost the big enchilada to John Guzman’s wonderful “Magnolia’s Prayer,” which can also be found in Shock Totem #6.
So rather than jot a quick post along the lines of “Weeee I won a contest!” I thought I’d gush a little over Shock Totem. If you’re looking for an awesome batch of stories, interviews, essays, etc., do yourself a favor and buy any of their issues…preferably the most recent one, haha. I’m concocting plans to be in my share of their upcoming issues, as well. *twists moustache devilishly*