Get Your Jitter Fix with “The Promise”

Jitter 6

Bite-sized horror stories usually aren’t my thing. I generally regard the horror genre as one to be savored. I love creepy world-building. Take me through the whole damn haunted house, room by room, and point out the curiosities that will make my head spin. I adore stories that are quick to unsettle you, then slowly build toward a terrifying revelation.

There’s a reason why horror lovers devour the huge tomes written by Stephen King or Dan Simmons. Dreadful stories are mini addictions. You keep turning the pages, wanting more and more – sometimes, inexplicably.

My latest horror short, “The Promise,” which is now available in Jitter #6, isn’t a page-turner – literally. It’s micro fiction, a sliver of terror, a quick hit of dread. There aren’t a lot of pages to turn, even if you wanted to (and hopefully you do!).

I wrote “The Promise” to see if I could create something turbulent and atmospheric and terrible and reminiscent of classic monster horror – in less than 1,000 words.

“The Promise” creeped out the editors at Jitter Press enough for them to include it in Jitter #6. Hopefully, it’ll creep you out, too.

The Promise (Excerpt)

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

She’d nearly choked on it that night on the moonlit beach—the sharp, pungent smell of dark promises and fragile desperation. Now, the noxious aroma threaded through her hair as something tugged at the floral comforter covering her toes. Lila’s eyes flew open. Her heart thumped in her chest.

“Mommy, there’s something under my bed.” She could barely hear Brayden’s whisper above the wave of adrenaline that whooshed through her veins. Bad memories poured over her, fresh and shocking as ice water.

This isn’t happening. You were supposed to forget. It’s been nine years.

Lila fought to keep her voice steady, for her son’s sake. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, sweetheart.” The lie was thick on her tongue.

Lila closed her eyes, attempting to lessen the sudden sting building behind them, but an image of her husband, water swollen and drained of color, painted the backs of her eyelids. She grabbed her hair and tugged hard, needing to feel something.

No. What she needed was to keep it together. She needed to comfort Brayden.

Lila swung her legs off the mattress and pulled her sleep-heavy body to a seated position. She made out a tuft of perfect corn silk hair and the glitter of Brayden’s wide eyes in the dim. She extended a hand toward him, and the next thing she knew, her darling boy was wrapped around her forearm, his little body radiating heat, his heartbeat hammering against her skin. A jolt of regret careened through her chest. She gasped, sucking in air, and gagged on sulfur. She coughed twice into her free hand and switched to breathing through her mouth.

Lila glanced over her shoulder at Martin, wondering if she’d disturbed him. Her husband lay still, almost as still as that night on the sand, but here in their master bedroom nearly a decade later, he breathed normally. In, out. In, out.

She thought of their time together—their first date, their wedding, Brayden’s birth, Emily’s birth, their grand renovation of this house. All the beautiful moments they’d accumulated together.

She’d had to save him, right?

…Read the rest in Jitter #6!

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No Joke: Read “Bad Vibrations” in Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife

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Since I began publishing fiction in 2012, I’ve billed myself as a horror and fantasy author, someone inclined to write about monsters and mayhem and mythological creatures. For a few years, I was completely satisfied writing about time travel, ghosts, devils, sirens, succubi, and devious drug plots.

And while I will continue to write about these things, I’ve started to play with new genres and writing styles. The other night, I finished my first romance novelette. Before that, a comedic, satiric take on a fairy tale. Comedy and romance are becoming a regular part of my repetoire, and it’s a really exciting and fun shift. (My writing group back in Phoenix, Arizona, would be so proud, a group that often requested I write something in which someone didn’t die or the conflict was resolved happily.)

So it’s fitting that today, April Fool’s Day, marks the publication of my very first piece of straight-up comedic writing. No joke, I’ve written something that I hope makes you laugh, not shiver in terror.

Today, Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife is available via Strange Musings Press, bringing you 33 crazy, wacky tales from the great beyond and outlining just what could go wrong with it:

As you shuffle off this mortal coil, many things will go through your mind. Will you be remembered well? Did you live the best life you could? Did you leave the iron on? And most importantly, did you remember to delete your browser history recently? But the big question that will finally hit you full on, is there something after all of this? And if so, will it suck? If only Yelp! had a category for the afterlife.

Here is a collection of humorous tales of the afterlife that covers the I.T. woes of Heaven, the dangers involved in using out-of-date occult tools, the perils of not saving appropriately for the hereafter, the shock of finding out that not every good deed will get you through the pearly gates and the cold hard fact that paradise just isn’t for everyone.

So go to the light at your own peril.

It could be life everlasting, or it could be an oncoming train.”

My contribution, “Bad Vibrations,” explores the motivations of a ghost’s very first haunting – and the truly embarrassing secrets she wishes had followed her to the grave.

Pick up your copy today, and be on the lookout for a blog takeover by Alternate Hilarities editor Giovanni Valentino on April 11 and my author interview with Strange Musings on April 14!

Read “No Ice Cream,” “The Remnants,” and “Bring the Llama” in Ironology 2015

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I am having a crazy week as a writer, because as of this morning, I’ve had four stories published this week!

Three of those stories are flash fiction pieces that I’ve written as a member of the Iron Writer community over the past year. I’ve written about Iron Writer before. It’s a concept and community that has challenged and changed my writing style and taught me how to craft quality flash fiction.

This week, The Iron Writer published a collection of flash fiction stories – and I’m in the anthology – three times! Here’s the blurb on the back of the book, which will explain and describe The Iron Writer and this collection better than I ever could:

“Atop the writer’s desk await the tools of the the craft. Four days and the deadline looms. Four elements must integrate the pieces into five hundred words. The pieces begin to fall into place. The competing writers will not relent and every word counts. The Iron Writer is a web-based flash fiction competition. It is about crafting short, element based stories in a competitive environment; winner take all. It was conceived out of the desire to help writers of all skill levels improve the writing through fast, fun skirmishes with other writers using elements common to each story. From around the world, writers have gathered and competed. Some are veterans of the craft; some are new to the game. Yet all of them were willing to do battle to discover if they were worthy of carrying the title of Iron Writer. Contained here are the winning stories by the current champions of… The Iron Writer Challenge.”

Ironology 2015 is a compilation of all the winners of the weekly challenges over the past year. And I am so proud to announce that three of my flash fiction stories, “No Ice Cream,” “The Remnants,” and “Bring the Llama,” appear in this volume.

If you’d like to take a flash fiction journey through a collection that is quirky, emotional, and crosses all genres of fiction, pick up a copy of Ironology 2015.

Me? I’ll just be over here eating cheesecake and sipping whiskey to celebrate!

Becoming an Iron Writer

Iron Writer Challenge

The circumstances surrounding my discovery of The Iron Writer are vague at best; I think I was researching places to submit my short stories for publication and a few web clicks later, I found this rad place to challenge my flash fiction writing skills and test my creativity.

Here’s how The Iron Writer challenge works. Each week, four writers are pitted against each other. They are given four elements, a 500-525 word limit, and four days to craft a flash fiction masterpiece. The submissions are posted to the website each week where the public can vote on their favorite piece. Behind the scenes, impartial judges rate the stories. The popular votes and the judges’ votes are combined and voila, a winner is selected.

A couple months after joining the Iron Writer community, I’m in the finals for the Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open. And I think that’s pretty dang cool.

To get to the finals, I’ve written two qualifying stories, one in which I had to combine the gods, dice, cocktails, and irrigation boots, and another in which I had to combine the point of view of Death, a chamber pot salesman, the Justice League v. Avengers, and a minion (a la Despicable Me). It hasn’t been easy, but I love the stories I’ve crafted from these crazy prompts. I’m better for it. They’ve stretched my brain in new ways, made me write differently. Growth in my craft, my friends.

For the finals, my elements are:

A lost key

A dessert topping

Travel brochures

A thermostat

And here’s my entry:

The Remnants

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

The body was starting to smell—sickly sweet like bruised plums abandoned in the trashcan for too long. Jocelyn imagined the internal sugars rebelling, turning to acid, attacking the flesh. She brought her cup of tea to her nose, inhaled steam and chrysanthemums, felt the comfort settle into her bones. She knew the solace would evaporate quickly. She needed to decide.

Jocelyn bent forward and surveyed the glossy brochures fanned out on the coffee table. India. Australia. Lebanon. Germany. Luxembourg.

“Where would you like to go?” the travel agent had asked.

Jocelyn took off her sunglasses and hat, returned the agent’s gaze, and said, “Far away.”

The agent’s accommodating smile dissipated like instant coffee granules in hot water.

“And I want options.”

Jocelyn had received a handful of brochures generally produced for couples researching honeymoon destinations or kids fresh out of high school ready to backpack the continents before heading to college. For Jocelyn, this wasn’t about adventure; it was about survival.

The old two-story house shifted and settled, startling Jocelyn. Tea sloshed over the rim of her mug. She sighed and pattered to the kitchen for a towel.

While dabbing her top, the house shifted again—louder this time. Jocelyn dropped the towel and grabbed a knife from the butcher block. Her heart hammered in her chest and her muscles tensed…TO BE CONTINUED!

Yeah, I’m teasing y’all. To read the full story, check out the Iron Writer website. And then vote! (Hopefully for me?)