Review: Drabbledark — An Anthology of Dark Drabbles

Drabbledark, edited by Eric Fomley, is an anthology of 100-word-long stories (drabbles) that slither and slide along the darkest edges of fantasy, science fiction, realism, and humor.

As a supporter of a crowdfunding campaign for a different publication by the same editor, I received Drabbledark in three electronic formats (pdf, epub, and mobi). I looked at the epub and pdf versions in detail, and the formatting is excellent. I read the entire anthology on the phone (epub); the layout is clean and beautiful. I am sure reading on a Kindle or a nook would be just as enjoyable.

The collection contains 101 drabbles by 86 authors. Most stories are original submissions, the rest are high-quality reprints. If you’ve never read microfiction, be forewarned that reading 101 100-word pieces requires considerably more focus than reading 10,100 words of a longer piece. A drabble is the double-espresso shot to a short story’s or novella’s 20-oz filter coffee. A well-written drabble can deliver great emotional impact and demands great reader engagement, because every word matters. Luckily for us readers, Drabbledark contains many well-written drabbles.

The collection covers a remarkable range of topics: ghosts and apparitions, goblins, vampires, curses, the devil in its many forms, human sacrifices, body horror, cannibals, psychopaths and other murderers, entrapment, real monsters and monsters within us (especially within children), mirrors (a perennial motif in dark fiction), dystopia, artificial intelligence, politics, aliens, genetic engineering, space travel, addiction, suicide, child abuse, and, thankfully, some humor. Some of my favorites from the collection include Body Jewelry, Poor Nathan, The Lady on the Bus, Lesson Learned, Feralization,  Suicide Hotline, Enchanted Leftovers, Inspiration Point, Ghosts of the Past, Midnight Imposter, A Small Misunderstanding, What Alice Wants, but this list is far from exhaustive.

In summary, I greatly enjoyed reading Drabbledark. Owing to the breadth of topics and quality of stories, which were presented within an elegant,  reader-friendly layout, I would highly recommend Drabbledark as a quick introduction to the genre of dark fiction. However, beware: a likely side effect of reading this ambitious anthology of blood-curdling gems is a frighteningly deep, almost otherworldly attachment to microfiction.

New Sci-Fi Story: Cryobliss

Exoplanet is a new science-fiction magazine and I’m proud to be one of the authors in its first issue, which dropped today (June 21).

Without further ado, here’s my story:

Cryobliss by Maura Yzmore in Exoplanet Magazine

The whole issue is great, and I highly recommend checking it out. You can download the pdf of Issue 1 here or read specific stories on the Issue 1 website. Some of my favorites are Swap.Me, Malfunction, Departure, and Sunrise on Menelaus, but honestly, read the whole thing. It features a variety of topics and styles.


Review: Three Sisters of Stone by Stephanie Hutton


Stephanie Hutton is one of today’s best writers of flash fiction (short fiction under 1000 words in length). I enjoy her writing for its clarity and poignancy, and was excited at the news that her novella-in-flash Three Sisters of Stone would be published by Ellipsis Zine in early 2018. In the novella-in-flash format, each flash — itself a standalone story with a clear conflict-and-resolution arc — also serves as a building block in a much longer, more complex narrative. While flash typically addresses an incident that is focused in time and space, when woven together, these sparkling bits of fiction can create a vivid tapestry of longer periods and distances.

Stephanie Hutton’s novella-in-flash is a beautiful example of the form. The book tracks the relationships among three sisters who grew up in an abusive household: the bonds formed and broken, the damage seen and unseen, and how the three cope with the burdens of their trauma as they move into adulthood. Stephanie is a writer of great compassion and tenderness, observant and unobtrusive. Her narrator, Bella, the middle sister and the peacemaker, is torn between a painful need for intimacy and a fear that comes from years of torment. She is a trembling heartstring, a thread that connects the analytical and distracted Agnes, the exuberant but fragile Chloe, and their broken, withdrawn mother.

There are many beautiful and profound moments in the novella, and I would do them injustice by quoting them out of context. Instead, I will say that my favorite flashes include “Sardines”, “Outside and Inside”, “Room”; “Mask”, and “What Mother Never Did”. Also, among the many heartbreaking scenes, this one, between the adult Bella and her mother, hit me hardest:

‘I never did lay a finger on you,’ mother repeated, staring down into the milk swirling around dark liquid.

I shook my head in reply. …No, mother never did lay a finger on me. Or place two arms around me. Or lean her head against mine to kiss me goodnight. She never did lay a finger on me, and maybe that was the ache.

Stephanie’s lovely writing is a treat and her novella-in-flash will delight both the readers who appreciate flash and those who crave richly textured literary fiction in longer form.