Time For Some Horn Tootin’

A couple of years ago an idea popped into my head based entirely on a pun. I was sitting at the laptop when the two definitions of the word “digital”struck me. It was one of those rare occasions where the title inspired the plot.

The result was a gruesome little story which blends computer use and torture involving severed fingers: “Digital Media.”

That was the official title. After a few* attempts at placing it, the story gained a new name: The Story That No One Wants.

Rejection, ah sweet rejection. The Universe’s way of making sure that my head does not get to big to fit in my car.

TSTNOW, of course, was a misnomer.
Someone out there was interested in the story. I just had not found that person yet. So I did what authors have been doing for years. I shut it away in a trunk to ferment.**/***

Then I did the other thing that authors have done for years. I opened the envelope from Calliope and got to work on the next story. I kept my eyes open for some place to send “Digital Media,” but let it rest for a while.

Then I saw a listing for an anthology of “extreme horror” which was looking for submissions. Perhaps the thing that was keeping this story from being placed would become its selling point.*4

Long story short,*6 the story was accepted. The anthology it appears in is
DOA: Extreme Horror. It was nominated for Best Anthology of 2011 in the Predators and Editors Readers Poll.*7 It came in fifth.

Why am I revisiting all of this? I thought you loyal readers might find a little bit of background interesting. I also thought it might be nice if I posted something.

However, the real reason that I decided to do all of this was to draw your attention to one of the
reviews of DOA which appears on the website Horrorphilia.

In case you missed that link, click on this sentence.

If you are a skimmer, then I will direct your attention to the ninth story which the reviewer describes as one of the “highlights” of the anthology.

Aw screw it. This is what it says:

Michael Cieslak’s “Digital Media” is unflinchingly gory and violent, but it’s also a story about karma and being very careful about what you wish for. With unseen assailants and fingers dropping like leaves in autumn, this sinister tale of bad online behavior manages to make the reader contemplate the true meaning of justice.


All right, I fully recognize that of the 28 stories in the anthology, the reviewer lists 15 (more than half) of them as “highlights.” Still, this is the first time that something I wrote has been singled out in a review. At least it is the first time it was singled out by someone I did not know (thanks
Peggy!)

That being said, I have allowed myself a little celebration time and I wanted to share it with all of you. Now if you will excuse me, I have a muse knocking at my door. Can’t keep Calliope waiting.





POSTSCRIPT: It did not dawn on me until recently (like when I was putting together this post recently) that one of the editors of DOA is the same guy I met at the GLAHW Holiday Horror Movie Fest (the one who had me laughing so hard I almost passed out from oxygen deprivation). David Hayes is one of those renaissance types, director, producer, editor, writer. In fact, one of his stories appears in comic book form alongside one of MontiLee’s*8 You should check out his website. He posts way more frequently than I do.


*”Few” is a relative term. It was easier than saying “a non-zero whole number greater than five but less than one billion.”

**An “electronic trunk” to be sure.

***This is not completely accurate. When one receives a rejection one is forced to wonder why. My own process is to examine the story, see if there are any areas which should be tweaked, and then send it out again. This is an arduous process which can really wear one down, but it is an important part of the process. Somewhere, someone (maybe me, who knows?) said the difference between a writer and a published writer is the ability to handle rejection.

*4 Yes, I was assuming it was the little bit of the old ultra-violence that was garnering the rejections and not some fatal flaw with the writing. I’m self-assured like that.*5

*5 HAHAHAHAHA! No, I’m really not.

*6 Too late.

*7 For those who don’t find this strangely familiar, my
begging request for votes can be found here.

*8 I’ll pause while you hum “Its’ A Small World After All.”