Category Archives: Story excerpts & Friday Flash

A Fortune Teller and an Uncertain Future: More from Mexico

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Cover image pending

I was honored recently to be asked by Andrew Hudson to write the foreword to an anthology he is assembling, Somewhere in the Shadows.  I was hoping to have an actual story as part of the anthology (also an honor that he should ask), but the timing with the birth of my son just didn’t allow it.  However, I can personally recommend some of the writers in this anthology, including my TESSpecFic groupmate Jonathan D. Allen (and I look forward to seeing the pieces by some of the others).  I’ll keep you posted as release date gets closer.

What does the future hold?

I have no idea.  I’m just happy to get this post up this week.  I have a couple of ideas for next Friday, but we’ll just have to see.

But without further ado…

This is another segment from my travelogue on my trip to Mexico in 2003 with my good friends, Kim and Brenna.  Chronologically, it follows an earlier segment I wrote about working on a sweat lodge, and if you want a fuller background before starting this piece, just let me know.

Otherwise, all you need to know for this piece is that we were staying in a hostel in Ejido Erendira (Coyote Cal’s) run by Shirley, a mix between Spanish and indigenous Indian, and her husband.  The day before, after reading some of my writing, Shirley had offered to analyze my dreams.  I had hedged.

And NOW without further ado… Continue reading


The Atlantic Hotel: An artists’ commune and horror setting

click for larger version

Angelic Knight Press has released a sneak peek at the cover art for No Place Like Home: Tales from a Fractured Future.  This is the first opportunity I’ve had to see the other authors, and I’m clearly in good company on this one.  Some great artwork from Rebecca Treadway.

For more information, click here.

What does the future hold?

Next Friday, in honor of Halloween, I’ll be featuring an analysis of one of my childhood favorites, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Yeah, that’s right.  I’ll be talking about Charlie Brown.

But without further ado…

I lived in Missoula, Montana for about six years.  Of the many places I’ve lived, it has to be one of my favorites.  I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Montana back when their program was one of the top five in the country.

I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, but back then, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a writer. Continue reading

The Philadelphia Experience: On life and death

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Well, if you haven’t already heard, my son was born last Saturday morning.  The actual birthing experience was much different than two and a half years ago with my daughter, but both shared a good case of jaundice, and as I write this, we are still waiting for the opportunity to take him off the blue lights.  It’s a tough time, but I think back on my daughter and know that everything will be okay soon.

Considering this experience of becoming a parent from a writing perspective, if you haven’t already, you can check out this post on my daughter’s birth:

Slowing Down: On the birth of my daughter… or… A Softer Side of the Horror Writer.

What does the future hold?

Today, this question that I use in every post seems like a very good one.

You’ll have to check back next week, and we’ll see.

But without further ado…

When it comes to visiting close friends and family in other locales, you rarely get enough time.  I struggle to think of many times when I’ve been on vacation and thought, “Okay, I’ve seen enough of this person.”  So I’ve learned that while we don’t get as much time as we’d like, we have to enjoy every moment that we get.

I think this goes for life in general.

And this idea really ties well into this excerpt from an East Coast trip I took with my wife a few years back.  One part of our trip took us to Philadelphia to see a good friend of mine, Clark.  While much more complex than the generalizations I’m about to give you, the main thing you need to know about Clark in order to get this piece started is that he is a California boy.  And liberal.

Philadelphia was not the right place for Clark.

The rest of the piece will unfold as it goes.  However, I will say that before going to Philadelphia, Jennifer and I had gone to the Body Worlds exhibit. As a once Biology major, this was fascinating.  As a horror writer, it touched a dark nerve.  But as it related to our trip, the contemplation of life and death already hung heavy in the air by the time we made it to Philadelphia.

So NOW without further ado…

“With the good ones in this life, you count yourself lucky for the minutes you get, the moments you get, moments like a clean wash cloth, ice cold wet on a hot summer day.  You know it won’t last forever, so you squeeze every drop, drink it all in, and when you can’t twist anything else out of it, you put the cool, damp rag on your face until it dries away.”

– bh duk

Clark and I talk that night about the ocean.   Water in general.  How we’re connected to it.  How the earth is just us on a larger scale or vice-versa.  And the water is the lifeblood of the planet, the body.

Clark has been disconnected from the ocean, and I don’t think it’s treating him too well.  Tradeoffs.  We talk about tradeoffs considerably.  Whether it’s where you live or how you choose to live or who you choose to live for.

We talk about “what if’s” and it makes me a little sad that while I’m just curious about my own “what if’s,” Clark seems to have a few moments where he would’ve done something different than he did.

We talk about the golden mean, and if there is an order to the universe.  Call it math, science, or God, it seems undeniable.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  None of this conversation might’ve come about had it not been for the fact that on our second night, Jennifer and I are faced with death.  I tell Jennifer that I’ve never been any good with death.  Never know what to say to people experiencing that loss.  Never know when the right time to call is.  I just don’t like it.  I know that seems obvious and that probably very few people do like death, but honestly, I know there are some people out there who feed off of tragedy.  Maybe not to that extent, but you know the type.  People who wouldn’t be happy if they weren’t miserable.

Jennifer’s Uncle Calvin has passed.  And it’s a tragedy.  But as with my Aunt Peggy, I feel like the greatest tragedy is just for those who are left behind.  I’ve never felt really sure about anything when it comes to religion, the pre-life or the post-party, but when Peggy died, and again with Cal, I was struck with a certainty that they are in a good place.  Not necessarily a better place, but a good place.

I can see how my mind might’ve wanted to seek out this reassurance with Peggy, because I was a little closer to her, but when I got the feeling with Cal, it didn’t feel like a defense mechanism.  Granted, I really liked Cal.  He reminded me of an old cowboy.  Much like my father.  But I didn’t need to be comforted as much as Jennifer.

And that was another thing.  It didn’t feel like the obligatory consoling comments to my wife.  I even hesitated to say it to her because I know that she isn’t really sold on the idea of a god or afterlife or any of that (not that I’m insinuating as much as that… just something beyond, even if it’s just a great joining with the cosmos), and I knew my consolation wouldn’t give her the same comfort that it would give to Cal’s wife.

Ruth was gone when he died.  Apparently he had been having some health problems, but nothing that would’ve led doctors to believe he was close to death.  But on that day, Cal had practically forced Ruth out of the house to go with her sister to a wedding.  And again, I wonder if somewhere deep inside, maybe not even in his conscious awareness, he knew that the time was coming.  Or someone knew that his time was coming.  And like an old cowboy would, he pushed his wife out the door, told her to go have fun.

Because we all die alone.

That’s right from “Donnie Darko,” (among other things) I recognize, but it’s true.  We all die alone.  The important thing is the people who are left behind.  Maybe nothing could’ve been done for Cal, and if that was the case, it seems like it would be better if his wife wasn’t there when it happened.  I know that we want to be there for the final moments of a loved one’s life, and maybe Ruth felt like she would’ve liked to have told him one more time that she loved him.  Maybe they even had a spat, but I feel confident of one thing.  He knew that he was loved when he left this world.

And for the rest of us, we didn’t have to see him pass slowly and painfully in a hospital somewhere.  We’re left with our memories, left with moments that are sweet, like cold drops of water on your face on a hot summer day.  In my opinion, we can only hope that we go that way.  Like an old cowboy.

– end of excerpt –

What do I want from you?


As always links to your blogs are welcome.

Don’t forget to check back next Friday.  It’s not going to be another travelogue piece, and I won’t have gone very far from my home, but I’m very curious to see where I’ll be.

Please subscribe to this blog to receive posts via email or RSS feed (on the right hand column).  NO SPAM, I promise.

A Child’s Cthulu, Redneck Vampires, and the Art of Southern Death: A photo travelogue

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Exciting news! A piece I’ve been working on (and hinting around here…not the fly story) was accepted into an anthology!

And that’s about all I can say at this point.  Vague, I know, but the official line-up won’t be announced for another couple of weeks.  However, I thought I’d start piquing your interest.  Looks like it will be a really fun anthology to be part of.  Stay tuned for more details.

What does the future hold?

I’m going to stick with a theme here, and next Friday, I’ll be posting a portion of another travelogue, this time visiting a friend in Philadelphia.  It will be a little more serious than this week, with some musings on life and death.

But without further ado…

First off, these are not great photos.  They were taken with my phone, just a good old fashioned flip phone (and yes, it was commented on at least twice on my trip that no one has a flip phone anymore, but this one is sturdy and suits my lifestyle) then sent to my email.

Again, these are not professional photos.  They were taken trying to be inconspicuous.

And a little tipsy at times. Continue reading

My #luckyseven excerpts and “The Cabin in the Woods” review

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Just gotta brag a little this week.  Since releasing Free Five at Amazon over a month ago, it has managed to stay in the top 50 for Kindle Fiction Short Stories.  Thanks so much to all of you who picked one up.  Again, it’s the same stories that I have posted here, but I added author afterwords to each of the stories.  They were almost as much fun to write as the stories themselves.

What does the future hold?

Next Friday, I’m pleased to be welcoming back horror writer Hunter Shea for a guest post on what he is calling our “Platinum Age of Horror.”  Hunter is also back celebrating the release of his second novel, Evil Eternal.

But without further ado…

I was recently tagged by both Jonathan D. Allen and Jill-Elizabeth for the #luckyseven meme.  If you haven’t seen this meme before at other blogs… well, I’d be shocked.  In fact, I was wondering if I was going to be tagged for it, but as I don’t normally participate in memes, I wasn’t terribly surprised that it had been floating around so long without hitting me. Continue reading

Driving Through the Desert: A travelogue excerpt

What’s news?

The Imaginings was reviewed at Jamie O’Connell’s horror book review blog, To the Bone Reviews.  I was pleased with the three stars and his recommendation.  While it’s not as long as a few other blogger reviews, he has been kind enough to continue the dialogue with me via email.  To read the review, click here.

It works on so many levels

What does the future hold?

Speaking of The Imaginings, I recently realized that it was just about a year ago since I got serious about self-publishing.  The official release wasn’t until June of 2011, but I started the research, planning, formatting, designing, etc… last March.

What a year it’s been.  Next Friday, I’m going to talk a little about what I’ve learned and my feelings one year later as I am once again considering traditional (or at least small press) publishing.

But without further ado…

I had an interesting confluence of events in my life recently.  If you recall from last week, I had decided that I wanted (or rather a few readers wanted me) to post something else from my nonfiction writings. Continue reading

Waiting for the Train- a short piece by Paul D. Dail

What’s news?

I’ve published a short collection of my flash pieces for free as an e-book at Smashwords.  They are the same pieces I’ve featured here, HOWEVER, I’ve included at the end of each piece a brief afterward that explains where the stories came from.  Sort of a glimpse into my life and mind.  It’s free, so what do you have to lose?  (I’m still trying to figure out how to get them free at Amazon and B&N… irritating).

You can find “Free Five” by clicking here.  (Smashwords supports formats for all e-readers)

Also, only about a week and a half left on my .99 sale for The Imaginings.

What does the future hold?

Next Friday, I’m pleased to announce that I will be posting “Seven Questions with Author Penelope Crowe” as well as a short review of her book 100 Unfortunate Days.  A fascinating read.  Hope you stop by to check it out.

But without further ado…

As I mentioned last week, Waiting for the Train holds two distinctions in my writing history.  First, it was the shortest complete story Continue reading