Black Candies – Surveillance

I’m proud to present the third issue of the literary horror journal which I edit: Black Candies – Surveillance.

We’re never alone. Paranoia has replaced privacy. Secrets are the new currency. The strangers who watched from the street now watch from within. For this issue of Black Candies, we found 11 smart, terrifying stories that explore the theme of “Surveillance” in explicit, implicit and abstract ways. These stories not only touch on the contradiction of the securities of our modern era, but unearth the deeper terror, paranoia, and anxiety that results.

There are a lot of new things I tried with this issue, including full-bleeds and two-page spreads for the illustrations. This is also the first time that I’ve used Createspace, a decision that I came to after reading Cameron Pierce’s (publisher of Lazy Fascist Press) novella “The Snakes of Boring,”—printed with Createspace—and being very impressed with the quality.

I also feel like I stretched my editorial muscles with this one. In the past, I’ve had the fortune of falling back on co-editors, and that’s probably made me a little less confident in my editing skills. I was lucky enough to have a group of writers who were very patient and willing to build their pieces where I thought they should be developed, or push back when appropriate. The resulting camaraderie among writers in the book (at least from what I can tell on social media) is pretty amazing—unlike anything I’ve experienced with a publication.

There’s also a new Facebook page where we’re gonna post info about upcoming issues, ways to submit, etc.

And here’s a rad thing: You can read Angus McIntyre’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” over at Boing Boing!

Here are Black Candies’ authors: 

Angus McIntyre
Valerie E. Polichar
Julia Evans
Gabriela Santiago
Melissa Gutierrez
Berit Ellingsen
Jake Arky
Matt Lewis
Chris Curtis
Kevin Sampsell
Ron Gutierrez
Wade Pavlick

Here are the artists: 

Adam Vieyra
Carabella Sands
Andrew McGranahan
Laura Gwynne
Carrie Anne Hudson
Thanks y’all. I hope you enjoy it.



The Contortionist in New Dead Families

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.10.38 AMI have a longish story in the current issue of New Dead Families, a great online, genre-bending lit mag.

I wrote The Contortionist back in 2010, but it’s gone through a lot of changes. I’m really happy with where it is now. If you dig kinky sex, contortionists, werewolves and stand-up comedy, I think you’ll dig this.

There are also a bunch of other very talented people in NDF. Berit Ellingsen, for example, has a wonderful, Gothic tale with a last line that blew me away.

Zack Wentz edits NDF. He’s a rad guy. He also has a story in Black Candies—See Through, which I edited, and you should buy it. 


Please buy Black Candies or my entire life will turn out to be a sham

bcseethroughcoverI’ve been working on this anthology—Black Candies: See Through—for the better half of 2013. Really proud of it. Feels like a lot of blood has gone into it.

It’s weird because, even though I don’t have any writing in this one, it feels very personal. I will call myself a horror fan, but I find the “horror” tag pretty reductive in general. When people think of “horror” they think genre, blood and guts, vampires, monsters, whatever. The stories in “See Through” represent my favorite kind of writing—haunting, funny, weird, dark, lyrical. One of my favorite things about editing these books is soliciting writers who aren’t necessarily known for dark writing and letting them loose. We all have it in us, and those that can indulge in “genre” (even though that’s not really as defined or stigmatized anymore) are my kind of people.

(Click here for list of contributors)

Also, this year marks a turn in Black Candies that I’m particularly proud of: we have more women writers than men. As I’ve said before, I don’t want that to a point of diplomacy or a shallow attempt at political correctness, but more of a correction to my personal reading habits. I would love for Black Candies to correct the trajectory of male-dominated lit journals, and that we’re a horror anthology—a genre where women are notoriously underrepresented—that’s incredibly exciting. I have to give a big shout-out to Roxane Gay, who helped me get some really great women writers, writers that I can now count among my favorites.

Finally, I would love to give a shout out to Justin Hudnall and So Say We All, the literary organization here in San Diego that I’ve been involved with for the past three years. I’m proud of what organizations like ours do for the quality and demographic inclusiveness of our art in contrast to profit-minded publishers. And with these Black Candies books, Justin provides unquestioning support. Not everyone can publish books without having to resort to Kickstarter or Indiegogo (which is not meant as a dig at crowd-funding or anyone who uses it—I just feel they create a lot of extra work)—I feel lucky to have the circumstances where we can create and produce without having to rely on too much outside assistance. Thank you, Justin.

Other thanks: all the writers and artists who donated their work. It’s always difficult to ask for writing without offering pay, and I completely understand those who didn’t submit stories due to that fact. But those who did: you’re making my dreams come true.

Thank you Jay Wertzler: my writing partner and co-editor. I’ve never worked so well with anyone before. If you don’t have someone who will read your stuff and provide as much quality feedback as Jay, I’m sorry.

And of course, Adam Vieyra. He creates and designs beautiful books. I would be stuck in zine land, probably still using Chiller font, if it wasn’t for him. He did the majority of “See Through” in one day—I was there. Watching him work is like watching a beautiful time-lapse.

blackcandiesprogression(Progression from stapled zine to current issue)

Anyway, enough of the sentimental stuff. I hope you enjoy it!

And please add on Goodreads.


The first book I ever wrote

Recently came across this book I wrote in 2nd grade. It’s called Oscar and Alphonse (misspelled on the cover). About caterpillars with a lot of attitude.

The thing about this book is that I it’s hardcover and very nicely put-together. I don’t really remember writing it, but the process of hole-punching, sewing the pages together, wrapping the book board and gluing it all together is still very fresh in my mind. I think it took about two weeks to complete (it was a class project) and remember feeling very proud of the final product (which maybe accounts for the hubris in the “About the Author”)

Hope you enjoy!


Two books with one stone: Black Candies and Last Night on Earth

Over the last two months, my friends and I have been at work putting together two books, and this morning, we can finally put the nail in both of them. It’s quite an accomplishment, really, and I want to tell you about them.

First off: Black Candies – a journal of literary horror.

Black Candies has been a passion project of mine to get some of my favorite literary writers to indulge their most horrific writing. This year, I got five great writers to write on the theme of “Post Apocalypse” (a concept I’ve been obsessed with over the last year); with some really great variations on said theme. The line-up for these authors goes:

Oh and the thing has art too. Some really great art, in fact. I really don’t want to show it to you cuz that would give it all away. Here are the artists:

So yeah, the stories in here are scary. Perfect time to get your spooks on!

Next book is Last Night on Earth.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’ve talked about this book here before, and there are really too many authors to call out, but it’s so, so great. My constant collaborator/friend/partner in crime (also Black Candies contributor) Jay Wertzler did the book design on this one. When I woke up to find his finished pdf in my inbox, I had to stand up and walk away from my computer. It’s just so breathtaking to see something you’ve been working on for so long finally be real. It has a face now – a glorious, immaculate face. Again, I can’t thank him enough for his hard work.

And of course, none of these would’ve been possible without Justin Hudnall, a true frontiersman. His constant encouragement and belief has made both these projects not only possible, but bigger and greater than anything I could’ve accomplished on my own.

I’ll keep you posted on when/where to get them.

Black Candies – a horror lit journal

As October looms closer, I want there to be a place where respectable artists are not afraid to indulge in their most shameless love of genre. I want it to be a place where writers scare themselves with the risks they take and the dark things they uncover within themselves. I want it to be literary and smart. Or, if that sounds pretentious, think of it like a Cronenberg film.

Black Candies is that place. I’m looking for a couple more stories to round out an already-exciting roster of talent. These would be short fiction stories or essays. Preferably 1000-5000 words. Visual artists are also encouraged to submit!

The (very) loose theme for this issue is “The Post Apocalypse”

If you are interested, let me know soon. I wanna have enough time to make it look good. And by that, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Dane Cardiel’s lit mag Manor House Quarterly. Please take a look at that sample and just relish how wonderful it looks. Now: think how it could apply to a bleak, post-apocalyptic art/lit journal filled with horror.

Please send all stories/art to and thanks in advance. I think it will be fun.

Post Apocalypse!

UPDATE: Black Candies Fall 2012 is available to order here.

blackcandies-coverUPDATE 2: 2013’s “See Through” issue is available here. 


Post Apocalypse

The fine folks over at [PANK] put up a story that I’d been chipping away at for a long time. It’s called “Post Apocalypse” and continues my obsession with post-apocalyptic themes that I’ve been writing about for the past year.

You can also listen to me read the story on [PANK]’s site, which is a really cool feature. I spent about three days recording my voice (yeesh) and adding sound effects to make it a nice production. Realize it’s a little long (about 30 mins) but, I dunno… maybe you can stream it through your iphone on the commute or something.

(read/listen to the story here)

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

That one time I was on 20/20

I was on 20/20, talking about the mail.

It was a pretty sudden/random thing to happen. The night before, I got an email from a producer at ABC and after we talked for a bit, he told me that he was going to send a cameraman over to my house the next morning at 6:30 am (the piece was airing that night).

The interview process was a little strange: the cameraman set up to make it look like I was talking to someone. Really, the ABC producer (based out of NY) was talking to me on a speaker phone, while I gave my answers to my light switch (my point of focus).

Despite my experience in front of a camera, I found the whole thing pretty nerve-wracking and I caught myself talking in cluster bursts of words–an annoying trait I take on whenever I get nervous. My vocabulary becomes similar to a pull-string engine that’s almost getting started. After the cameraman left, I was sure none of the footage I gave them would be usable.

Honestly, 20/20 is one of those cultural staples that I ultimately know nothing about–kind of like 60 Minutes or Dateline. As I sat down to watch the show, I had no idea how inflammatory/sensational it is (has it always been this way?). I had this short, intense fear that they were going to edit me to look like this Simpsons clip, or make me look like a crazy postal worker. I think I said so many contradictory things during that interview that they could’ve easily done that.

But they were kind with their editing… I mean, to the extent that any sort of self-conscious person can stand to watch or listen to themselves.

Take a look at it here!

All the Lucky Things that Happen When You Read Hobart 13

Hobart is a midwestern literary journal that boasts some of the more-visceral writing I’ve seen (not to mention a solid design)  Since this issue is their 13th, all the stories have to do with luck (or lack thereof). During the course of reading it, I decided to take note of all the lucky stuff that happened in my life.

Two things: Besides the whimsical indulgence of romanticizing coincidence, I’m not sure if I believe in luck. I don’t think there are exterior forces that congregate around some people and leave others alone.

Also, I’m not a fast reader. So there I had a lot more opportunities to have “lucky” experiences than someone who can read faster. I don’t know if this in itself is luck.

Finally, anyone remember the X-Men characters Longshot and Domino? Both of them had “Luck” listed under their mutant powers. But doesn’t that negate the definition of luck? (The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune 2. Good fortune or prosperity; success: 3. One’s personal fate or lot). It seems that people who ‘make their own luck’ are really just cheaters.

Lucky thing 1: I consider my acquisition of Hobart 13 as somewhat lucky:

If it hadn’t been for Amelia Gray’s emoticon’d link share, or the fact that I had been on Facebook right then, I would not have known about the insane Hobart giveaway.

Jac Jamc begins Hobart 13 with a series of earnest essays about how she defines luck. They’re all very good, but there’s a bit that really stuck with me. Pretty much defined what I thought of luck:

As soon as I started thinking about luck, I started noticing stories about luck and theories about luck and thoughts on luck everywhere I looked.

I don’t think that’s luck. I think it’s preoccupation and awareness

She has a book that is out today. You should probably go read it.

Lucky thing 2: had two pretty decent job interviews. None of them were for jobs I was particularly excited about, but I consider myself a pretty terrible interviewee. Any opportunity to leave an interview without picking apart each line you said with disdain is a victory. Even if you didn’t get the job.

I’d consider two interviews in a week “lucky”, especially for writing positions.

Rolf Potts has a long essay in which he uses David Shield’s Reality Hunger, a text of remixed texts, as a springboard to remix his own account of being drugged and mugged in Turkey. I didn’t like it at first because I thought it was somewhat condescending to utilize someone’s method of delivery to show its flaws. Like oh… how meta of you. But when it became clear that he was using it to deconstruct his own narrative and highlight our basic love of story (I think), then I really liked it. Plus, there’s really good page formatting here.

Lucky thing 3: My mailman memoirs were printed on the cover of the SD Reader. Not really lucky because I had received payment and knew they were going to print it, but the day that it came out, I was at a birthday dinner for a local journalist and met a lot of other freelance contacts who were impressed with my work.

Lucky thing 4: won Sleigh Bell tickets from a music blog.

My absolute favorite piece was Tod Goldberg’s When They Let Them Bleed” which was about his love lightweight boxing champion, Duk Koo Kim, and the death that befell Kim in the ring. He relates that to his own adolescent body issues and the self-mutilation he endured. Really powerful stuff without falling into melodrama.

Read Hobart 13.