Staring into the Abyss

No, I’m not feeling glum. Quite the contrary, as the writing has picked up and I can see my holiday just over the hill in front of me after a long year.

Staring into the Abyss because I was fortunate enough to be invited onto the podcast of the same name, by their team of Scott Kemper, Matt Brandenburg and Michael Patrick Hicks.

The format of the show, if you don’t already know it, is that the guest chooses a short horror story to discuss with the panel. I chose a phenomenal piece called ‘Live Through This’ by the ludicrously talented Nadia Bulkin.

You may not be familiar with this story, as it has only ever been published in an anthology from Dim Shores, called Looming Low, and as we thoroughly spoil the story, I’d really recommend you pick up the anthology first, here* then listen in and see if we made of it what you did.

The chat also features a round-up of what we were all reading at the time of recording, when I was wrestling with the darkness of Ross Jeffery’s Juniper and the Staring Into The Abyss team were all at various stages of progress with Stephen King’s novella quartet, If It Bleeds.

Have a listen and tell me what you think, either at the spotify link below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0k68WUd98EaXaaNa9tusnt?si=tnBT-VaCQliF7LSfrf_SlA

*You won’t be sorry if you do pick this up. There are other stories in there by Gemma Files, Brian Evenson, Michael Griffin, Betty Rocksteady, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi DeMeester, Michael Cisco and I could go on. Seriously, it’s astounding. You can read my 2017 This is Horror review of the book, here.

A final Treat from the Trickster and don’t miss Curfew

I’m freshly returned from a (socially distanced) holiday in Malta and have a few projects coming to fruition. First up is my story, ‘Shaft,’ which is featured in the latest (and final) edition of Trickster’s Treats, the annual halloween, charity anthology from Things in the Well. As you may know, after putting out almost forty excellent releases over the past few years, Steve Dillon has decided to call it a day running the press, to focus more on family life and his own writing. So many people have been given a break by Steve, myself included, with my first proper sale coming for ‘Warding’ in his anthology Below the Stairs: Tales From the Cellar, you can read more about that here.

But onto Trickster’s Treats 4: Coming, Buried or Not. This anthology has been edited by Louise Zedda-Sampson and Geneve Flynn, and it was a great experience, as Things in the Well anthos usually are, with some great editing bringing the most out of my story. The story is called ‘Shaft,’ but has nothing to do with a policeman who breaks all the rules. It’s set at Stonehenge in the UK, where a circular shaft was recently discovered nearby. That news story fused with the call for the anthology and the story kind of wrote itself. There is some visceral nastiness that I think and hope readers are going to get a thrill out of.

The cover art is great and there are more than 30 stories and poems in the book, AND the proceeds are going to an amazing cause, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation. You can read about the work they’re doing, here. So if you want to read mine and a host of other tales of terror, do pick up a copy either by pre-ordering or after its release on 26th September.


Curfew is the second release of mine to come through Demain Publishing’s Short Sharp Shocks range of titles. My first one, Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See, first saw the light of day last April and was my first solo release. I’m pleased to say that novelette is still finding new readers today and, by and large, they seem to be enjoying it.

Curfew moves away from folk horror in a sense, yet retains certain elements of it. A small community, strange practices and the main characters as outsiders all feature here. But I do feel the vibe is different from both Cinders… and The Balance. I won’t say much more, as it’s not a terribly long tale and I don’t want to spoil it. For now, it is available only in eBook format, but it will be reproduced in paperback format early in 2021, and my short story ‘Haldjas,’ which was originally produced in audio on Hawk and Cleaver’s The Other Stories podcast, will be appearing in print for the first time.

Released this Friday, 18th September, you can pre-order your copy for just £0.77 in the UK and a similarly bargain $0.99 in the US, with similar prices on Amazons worldwide. Cover art and design is once again handled by the brilliant Adrian Baldwin, and I’d love to know how you get along with it, either here, in the comments or on Twitter @lisboetaingles.

New Audio Story – ‘A Precious Quarry’ – Free on Tales to Terrify

I’m thrilled to announce that my story, ‘A Precious Quarry’ is the feature story on today’s Tales to Terrify. This story is a sci-fi horror piece, set on an experimental mining vessel sent out to drill precious minerals from huge lumps of space rock in the asteroid belt of our solar system. Let’s just hope that when such projects start to come to fruition in reality over the next few years, things don’t go as badly as they do for the crew of the Pegasus.

This story was written in 2018 and found its first home in Things in the Well’s superb sci-fi horror anthology, Beyond the Infinite: Tales from the Outer Reaches. Getting a slot in this anthology was a bit of a dream for me, as it meant my story sat side by side with masters of horror, like Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley, as well as H. G. Wells – a sci-fi legend from the town where I grew up.

But enough blathering from me, check out the story for free, below and I hope you enjoy it – Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Half price promotion on The Balance eBook and Audiobook

After two months on sale, The Balance is doing better than I could possibly have hoped (all thanks to you readers!) To help more people find this fusion of Slavic folklore and ecohorror, Lycan Valley Press have decided to run a limited-time promotion, with the Ebook and audiobook both available for half price.

So pick up the eBook here.

Or the audiobook (lovingly narrated by Desmond Manny) here.

And don’t forget to use the coupon code Balance2020 at checkout. Note the capital B in Balance there, people.

If you do check it out, I’d love you to reach out to me and tell me what you think, via my contact page, on Twitter @LisboetaIngles or via Goodreads.

Nearly is nothing – but not exactly

When I started writing, I read a heap of writing advice. I continue to read it, listen to it on podcasts and request it from more experienced folk than myself when I get the chance. At the beginning, I was struck by just how often the number one maxim was: “be resilient, grow a thick skin,” or words to that effect.

Of course, they were right all along.

Regaleira Tower Green

2019 and 2020 have been the kinds of years that you might have seen in dystopian movies, had movie studios been bold enough – (maybe out of their minds enough?) – to believe the perpetual shit that much of the world has thrown at us all over the past 18 months or so could ever possibly have happened.

Way, way down in that list, in terms of global importance at least, has been the first dip of my writing career.

I made my start as a ‘serious’ writer in late 2016 and started submitting stories in 2017. Partly through luck (isn’t everything?), partly through finding ideas and submission calls aligning and partly through half-decent beginner-level writing, I managed to score some really great sales over that first year and into 2018, including a slot in the Lost Films anthology from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing which was a dream come true, and two stories which featured in Things in the Well’s Below the Stairs: Tales from the Cellar and Beyond the Infinite: Tales From the Outer Reaches that I still love today.

Moving into late 2018 and 2019, I sold my debut novella, The Balance, a novelette that I am still immensely proud of (Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See) and also placed a story in Corpus Press’ beautifully realised In Darkness Delight: Creatures of the Night. I felt energised, and raring to push on.

I started to push the boundaries of my fiction, trying out different modes, character voices, etc, and feedback from beta readers was that this was my best work yet.

I naturally began to sub this work to new markets and stories were added to shortlists, reaching the last round of eliminations for two magazines that I would have sold at least a fair slice of my soul to be a part of and two anthologies that went on to or likely will go on to be named in best ofs and award ballots for the year of their release.

Ultimately, though, my stories fell at the last hurdle.

For all writers, and creatives more generally, I think self-doubt is only ever one knock away from smacking you hard in the face. And I’ve spent long, hard months over the past half a year considering whether maybe I just don’t have the stuff for this field, or whether my stories are not what people want or need right now.

In some ways, I think reaching being shortlisted and ultimately failing anyway makes the punch even fiercer than it might have been, were the response a simple form rejection. I wrote a while back about how failure can be full of insight and lessons and can help us grow, but sometimes it can just knock the stuffing out of you and leave you asking what the point of it all is.

Nearly is nothing, after all.

I have no stories scheduled for release. I’ve sold only two shorts for podcast adaptation in almost twelve months.

So what do I do from here?

I keep on going.

I try to find the right places to submit those stories that were shortlisted and remember that some editors that I respect enormously have said things like:

“… is one of the most viscerally impactful scenes I have read in a long time”

“thank you the opportunity to read such a fantastic story”

My novella, The Balance, has also received some reviews that I couldn’t have dreamed of, from reviewers who absolutely know their stuff, so there is a home out there for my writing. I just have to keep sending it out there until I find it.

And if (when?) it comes back from the next market with a rejection I have to pick myself up, dust myself off and get it ready to go back out.

I guess, in the end, this post is a very long-winded way of saying two things: writing advice 101 really is grow a thick skin, become resilient, accept or even embrace rejection and keep on going anyway. But also, do take on board that positive feedback. Editors I’ve asked about this assure me that people don’t write this stuff just to soften the blow of the rejection. If they tell you it was a great story and they expect it to find a home elsewhere, they probably mean it. If we’re to let imposter sydrome kick our arses from one corner of our homes to the other most of the time, we owe it to ourselves to accept positive feedback and use it as a counterbalance.

Anyway, back to my WIP…