• Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in The Bible (2)



They shepherd us into identical rooms, boxes of stacked cinderblock daubed a failed sort of white, like something long since beached and never dealt with. Plastic molded chairs bolted to concrete. A rounded table and a recording device. Two elongated bulbs in the ceiling buzzing intermittent. Insectile. Almost nothing to snag your attention, no edges on which to catch, might as well be one more casket in waiting.

“I hear you have a story for us,” says the stocky man with the alarming mole on his face. I wonder for a second if his use of the plural means he speaks for it too.

“You might have heard wrong,” I say, deciding to be nice.

“My hearing’s impeccable, friend.”

“Good for you. This story died before it got started.”

“Something died. That much I know.” 

“Yeah.” Boredom enfolds me now, like a threadbare thriftstore coat. Bought for a good price, but so was Manhattan, allegedly, and look where that got us. I think I prefer beads.

“The question is whether you know more than that.”

“A better question is whether I’d tell you.”

“That’s not a better question. Just a more immediate one.” His eyebrows, toothbrush bristles dusted with cornstarch, are a neutral hirsute line, like a prairie winter highway.

I feel like writing a poem about Saskatchewan. “I could almost like you, pal.”

“Let’s see if you’re still saying that in an hour.”

Although I wasn’t there, my life almost blew up on a stretch of road outside of Summerland. Three covert feet of silent black ice can obliterate you and all those you love. Try not to forget that. If you’ve ever driven up in the aftermath—phone dropped, heart arrhythmic, skin voltaic—to meet your hollow-eyed loved ones in some box store parking lot, you’ll know what I mean. Maybe no one cried, not then, but maybe they did when they thought it was over, once it became a Thanksgiving story not some awful marker separating the heartbreak chapters of our lives. Some unpunctual thing meant to come later. Or before. Or maybe that was the dream version sweated out into laundry loads of spectral grey sheets, the bullet not dodged, or maybe dodged, like we’re Neo and we took the wrong pill. Or the right one.

Loss steals in where it wants. Nod assent when it bypasses us. It’s a fluke.

“You’re saying you never knew the woman?”

“The woman?”

“Of whom we speak.”

“I’m not.”

“So you knew her.”


“Allow me to apprise you of something, hoss. Riddles are dull and stupid things. Meant for children. And evasiveness makes me vindictive. Not a direction you want this to go, trust me. Now tell me how it is you knew her yet you didn’t know her. And do it in plain Canadian.”

Since I like a man who calls another man hoss, I decide he deserves something en route to the truth. “I knew she existed, I met her a time or two, drank with her, but I didn’t know her. Not in any real sense. Not even in what they used to call the biblical one.” 

“Yet, speaking of, she’s dead as Lazarus.”

“Not the best way to illustrate your point, detective. I might even be the Jesus in that version.”

“You’re not, so hush your mouth. So where’d you meet her?”

“Why do you ask when you know the answer?”

He and his damn mole stare at me. On the outside I’m still as a lizard on a boulder at noon. Inside, my heart is pizza dough.

I stare back until I don’t. “Alright, fuckhead. You win. I did it. I closed her account. Called in her number. It was me. Now take me away…” I offer my wrists, yoked like veiny ghosts, the abject godless bones already singing songs of the dead.

He keeps looking at me like he can’t decide whether to tousle my hair or kill me himself.

He doesn’t say a word, but the brisk violent arc of his thumb in the stagnant air says, “The fuck outta here, punk.”

Alone beneath the cold fire of stars, my friends are gone, some into caskets they won’t get to claw out of. The merciful cloak of night has dropped. I no longer know how to say no to anyone at all. Rake my strained face; tell me which one’s the right pill. And dig a shallow grave. I can’t even and I won’t ever. It’s over. Lukewarm and lacklustre. You know full well what I’m trying not to say.


The Uber Cannons of Snark

© Miramax Films, 1994Okay, I’m going to go full douchenozzle in this post. You may know me for my mildly snarky yet oddly gentle sense of humour, but enough’s enough. Time on this occasion to unleash both barrels of the Über Cannons of Snark.

No messing about, here are eight dick moves for writers, and once you’ve read them, please stop doing them. Now. And I’m turning the barrels on myself, too: I’ve been as guilty as anyone with a few of these. Well, a couple, at least. Okay, one of them.

8. Quit trying to earn your book nerd cred. Telling people you don’t own a television and that you don’t even miss it doesn’t actually make you look the erudite techno-rebel you think it does. Or the noble ascetic, either. Or whatever other worthy character your inner movie is projecting on the murky screen inside your head. No, it makes you look more like an elitist luddite and an extremist bizarropod. Guess what, folks? You can own and even occasionally watch a television and you might on occasion be entertained or learn something or catch a great Seinfeld rerun or discover how badass the honey badger really is (wait, that’s YouTube) or marvel at Lionel Messi’s close ball control or weep uncontrollably at an old classic movie… or at Mitt Romney’s awkward and obvious avoidance of any questions with the letters T, A and X in close proximity… and none of this will prevent you from also reading books. One does not exclude the other. May I repeat that? One does not exclude the other! Blaming TV for all the pop culture trash out there is like blaming the internet for porn… oh wait…. Think I broke my brain again. Give me a second…

7. Speaking of pop culture trash, bemoaning the fact Snooki has a bestselling book to her name does nothing for you other than to raise your blood pressure a few notches. It’s stupid and pointless. As, indeed, you believe the young lady herself to be. But let’s reframe it: she is an example of a young person from a generation many older folk dismiss as unmotivated and entitled. Did she sit around in various bars and clubs in Seaside Heights getting hella crunk like you assume most of her contemporaries did/do? Well, okay, sort of. But the key is, she did it on camera, even getting punched in the face for her troubles, and did it all with enough tawdry poignance that people couldn’t help but notice her. And try watching the scene where she’s so achingly (and at that point, pretty much deservedly) lonely she wanders the boardwalk barefoot, literally begging for someone to party with her, without feeling even a twinge of genuine pity in your black and empty heart. Just try it. Anyway, she bootstrapped her decidedly odd and needy defiance into something lucrative. Fair play to her. So what? Move on, that’s what.

6. In fact, stop being envious, period. Of sparkly vampires or soccer mom spanking sessions. Lamenting your own obscurity while publicly calling out examples of undeserved success is not a good look. Who gets to decide the “undeserved” part? Do you really want to end up looking like those hoary old classic rock bands in the ’70s who turned up their noses at upstarts like… the Sex Pistols? The Clash? The Ramones? Again, we don’t have to take sides, we can listen to both, capiche? Even if we’re a dinosaur (and at some point, everyone has to take his or her turn in the Dino-dome), it’s better to be Neil Young than Ted freaking Nugent, after all. And I’m not even saying that because I’m Canadian. Honest. Embrace it all and stop experiencing life in narrowcast (or something… sometimes I worry even I don’t know what I’m talking about). And when it comes to music, thanks partly to the whole iTunes revolution, we seem to have collectively gotten that message at last. Now we just need to extend it to books and realise how much of this is simply down to subjective taste and stop reinventing hierarchies that only ever succeed in pissing everyone off or, worse, intimidating new writers into quitting before they’ve ever had the chance to learn and hone their skills. Stop telling people who’s allowed to eat at the big folks’ table. Besides, the big folks’ table looks a little dull. And you can’t even put your elbows on it.

5. Oh, and the corollary to that last one: if you do begin to experience a measure of success, be gracious about it. Don’t set odd little traps for others. Don’t suddenly act like the King or Queen of I Am Bearer Of The Ultimate Secret and start rubbing your friends’ faces in it only to then turn around and imply they’re acting jealous when in fact they’re only being aghast and uncomfortable at your embarrassing hubris. No, this is bad behaviour all around, stop it. Sure, success can be down to hard work, but there’s often a measure of sheer random luck involved, right-place-right-time kind of thing. Many writers work their typing fingers to the calcium-depleted bone with relatively little success. You gonna tell them they don’t deserve it? Some of them? All of them? And even more pertinent: you cannot know whether this relative upsurge in your own fortunes will last. What is that thing they say pride comes before? You know exactly what I’m saying. Show a little humility, fool. Be kind.

4. Back in the day, writers were sticklike figures barely subsisting on the rotted cotton wadding inside an old stained recliner they dragged to their meagre garret from an alleyway before the rats could use it for nests. They were isolated and flea-bitten wrecks, drinking methylated spirits until blindness finally destroyed their only chance at literary fame and fortune. Okay, not really, them’s stereotypes, but indulge me. In place of unbearable loneliness, we now have…. Facebook. Social media. Which we’re told to use relentlessly, to connect with people like a string of special and—thanks to inactivity and the universal accessibility of Cheetos—increasingly odd-shaped snowflakes. Snowflakes with orange teeth. And we do it. We even befriend people, genuinely. It’s a social thing. We’re a social animal. The artificial divide between writer and reader is now virtually gone (sorry, pun not intended). Which is great and everything, but now we can bite back… snipe back directly at the suddenly malicious critics and readers who attack our precious babies. We can use the very tools we’re most adept in—words—to strike, like Jules Winnfield, with great vengeance and furious anger on our foes. Everywhere. On Amazon. On our personal blogs. On Facebook. Twitter. Mwahahaha, we are The Forgers of Words, hear us roar… Well, no. We really shouldn’t do that. Not even once. It will have no effect other than to convince a sizeable number of silent observers that we’re an arsey little hosebag. And, wherever you are posting or commenting on the interwebs, never forget the vast, silent bank of lurkers. Their eyes are beady and mean and they will watch you and they will judge you. It’s sheer professional suicide to act like a handicapped badger’s spleen… and besides, you know that cool “lay my vengeance upon thee” Ezekiel-schtick in Pulp Fiction? Tarantino made it the hell up. ‘Nuff said.

3. Now, with this one I don’t fully see eye to eye with many of my writer peers. I’m talking about politics and religion. And unlike others, I don’t think you should avoid these topics. In fact, they’re pretty much the motherlode for any discussion of the human condition, the sacred and the profane… which is what we as writers should be eating for breakfast. Before moving onto philosophy and existential eel porn by lunch time. So don’t avoid them. But… be tactful. If someone disagrees with you, try not to call him a rabid baboon’s esophagus. Quite honestly, the only writers I would advise to STFU on this stuff are the true bigots: the racists, the sexists, the homophobes. They just need to sit down, be quiet, watch how normal people work, and learn how utterly futile their pathetic attempts to swim against the prevailing winds are, almost as excruciatingly failworthy as my last metaphor, in fact.

2. Spam. You just knew the pink, lukewarm meat of doom was going to make an appearance, didn’t you? Look, I get it. We’re told, exhorted in fact, to promote our work across a kajillion social networks with names like Tinglr and GoodFellas and FaceSpace. So we sign up for most of them and then… we go nuts. This isn’t one can of Spam, oh no, this is a cloying, gelatinous, somehow horribly sluggish, pink slough of the stuff. For the love of all that is holy, calm down. Breathe. Okay. You’re in a vast hall, and there are small groups of people scattered around. First, you don’t stand in the middle and randomly start yelling “Guys, I’m so excited! Got a 5 Star review on Smashwords today. Squeeee.” Right? (In fact, please don’t ever say squee, period, okay? Unless you’re five and like to wear tiaras.) You certainly don’t shoulder your way into a group and say “I just sold three copies of my book on the Lithuanian version of Amazon this week!” No, you find a conversation that interests you, and you politely join in when there’s a lull. It’s really that simple. Do the stuff yo’ mama taught you. Check you don’t have spinach in your teeth. Wash behind your ears. Say please and thank you. Don’t interrupt. Don’t fart and blame it on the server. Be nice. And guess what? People will like you. After which, there may come a time when someone turns to you and asks “so what is it you do?” Bingo! The online world really is but a reflection of the real world… only with way more kitties… and lots more naughty stuff. But yeah, it’s common sense, really. Moderation. Balance. If you feel you’ve crossed the line this week, cool your jets next week.

1. I was going to talk about dodgy or questionable ethics surrounding the whole recent reviews controversy, but I think I’m going to leave that to someone who will do it far more justice in a longer post than I ever could here. Instead, I’ll end somewhat anticlimactically on a subject that will make most of you sigh and look at your watch and say “oh, is that the time?” Namely… editing. Yes, go ahead, scurry away, you horrible little wordworm, but you know what’s coming, don’t you? I can still see you, so I’mma shout at your retreating backs: “HIRE AN EDITOR!” Now, this final item is in no way self-serving (cough, Be Write There, hack), but it cannot and should not be avoided. If money’s tight, go the beta reader route… something. Can you imagine if God himself had thought “You know, in the time it’ll take me to find an editor, I could have this thing up and running and put through Coker’s meatgrinder twice over, and besides, I think I’m a pretty good writer, possibly even the best. Nah, forget it, who’ll even know”? You might have gotten something like this:

1. At the start, God made up heaven and earth.

2. And teh earth was without from, and void; and drakness was up all over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of teh waters.

3. And God says, Let their be light: and thurr was light.

4. And God seen the light, that it was a’ight: and God partitioned the light from teh darkness.

5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he thought about for a bit and eventually decided to call Night.

6. And the evening and the mourning were the 1st day.

Wait, the evening was the first day? Um… help? Someone? Where’d that editor go?