Ken MacGregor has been traversing the internet talking about his quirky horror collection titled An Aberrant Mind. Today Ken talks about stuff up—writing to many of us—so without further ado, here he is…
Step Right Up, Folks!
I’ve heard – well, mostly read a lot of people say that writing is a lot of work. That it’s excruciating and a horrible way to earn a living. That it’s agony to put words to the page.
I don’t think so. Well, okay, maybe it is for them, but not me. I enjoy writing. I love the process—from when the idea rattles around in my head to the first tentative words all the way through the editing.
All right, sometimes the editing is a pain in the ass, but the end result makes it pretty cool.
I love making stuff up. It’s fun.
Now, there’s this whole other part of being a writer that I didn’t really think about when I started. If I’d had the foresight to see it coming, I might have just kept writing for me and not submitting to publishers. I’m talking about the part where I have to try to sell my work.
Obviously, I don’t mind being paid to write. What kind of lunatic would complain about getting money for doing something they love, something they’d be doing anyway? But, no – that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about that thing where I try to get people interested in reading my stuff. The ‘Hey! Look at me!’ of self-promotion. This is how it feels to me:
I’m standing on the midway, clad in red, white and blue stripes with matching top hat, barking at the mothers, fathers and children whose mouths are caked with spider webs of cotton candy residue.
“Step right up, folks! See the amazing MacGregor pull ideas from thin air. Watch as he creates real human beings – and kills them!”
Or if you prefer a more urban analogy, I feel like a pimp (still with a big hat) sending my girls (and boys – this is the 21st Century after all) out to do filthy things with strangers while I sit back and collect the money. Sometimes the stories don’t sell and I have to slap ‘em around a little.
I don’t like this aspect of being a writer very much. It feels dirty to me, cheap and tawdry. I think this is probably the whole reason writers seek agents. So they don’t have to sully their hands with self-promotion. Any agents reading this might like to know that I’m not currently represented. Just sayin’.
You know what do I love, though, aside from the writing itself? Connecting with a reader. That moment when you log on to social media and someone you’ve never met has left you a note saying how much they enjoyed a story you wrote. That’s the best feeling. Knowing I made an impact in someone’s life, the way so many authors have in my own, is astounding to me.
So, if I can experience that, every once in a while, it’s worth having to hawk/pimp my stuff. More than worth it.
Thanks Ken! Now let’s take a look at An Aberrant Mind, tell you about the giveaway, and let you read an excerpt…
ABERRANT is defined as unusual, abnormal or different. The stories in this book not only differ from most of what you read, but also wildly from each other. A retired school teacher takes on an elder god and his minion; a werewolf picks fights with sea creatures; a neighbor’s lawn may be eating people. Twenty-two stories: scary, funny, weird and different.
In these pages, you will find darkness and fear, revulsion and terror. Mixed with it, however is quite a bit of humor. Sometimes both happen at the same time. So, open it up, join Jim as he fights off zombies with a potato cannon; witness the bloodbath reunion of the first man and his homicidal son; enjoy the monsters, the demons and the deranged.
A word of warning, though: you may never eat a bagel with lox again.
Available for purchase at:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in over fifty anthologies, magazines and podcasts. Ken is a member of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. You can find Ken on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and at ken-macgregor.com. Ken’s the kind of guy that, if he found himself stranded somewhere with you, would probably eat you to survive. Ken hopes you enjoyed the stories in this collection and that you sleep just a little less well because of them. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two unstable cats.
Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of An Aberrant Mind by Ken MacGregor to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!
An here’s the excerpt we promised you…
Carl woke up hungry. He rolled out of bed and into the shower, stale smoke and beer sweat sluicing off him and down the drain. As he dried off, the church in the next block rang the bell, as it did every hour. He counted them. Ten. He felt each one like a blow to the head.
“I am never drinking again,” Carl mumbled. It was his mantra.
Carl lurched out the front door; the sunshine lancing into his brain as he hustled to put on the sunglasses. Avoiding human contact, he made his way to Max’s Deli. His stomach craved bread, and his brain coffee. Thank god ten am was a slow time for Max. Early mornings and around lunchtime, it got very loud in there. Max himself was at the counter. He looked up and beamed.
“Mr. Carl!” Max always used “Mr.” or “Ms.” with his customers’ first names. It was oddly endearing. Carl gave Max a weak smile and ordered a large coffee and an everything bagel.
“So sorry, Mr. Carl,” Max said, regret clear on his face. “We had to 86 the everything bagels. Garlic and onion we still have; that’s as close as it gets. I give you the coffee for free, to make up for it, okay?”
“No, no,” Carl said. “Garlic is fine. I’ll pay for the coffee. Things run out. It happens. Don’t worry about it.”
“Thank you,” Max grinned. He yelled to the kitchen. “Drop a garlic! You want cream cheese and lox with that?” Carl’s stomach did a backflip when it heard cream cheese, but lox would be good. He ordered it that way and sat down on the cushioned bench, sipping the too-hot coffee in the to-go cup.
“Order up!” Carl’s head whipped around; he had been woolgathering, and the movement hurt him. Wincing, he got up, paid and left the deli, coffee and bagel in tow. A tiny wisp of steam rose from the sipping oval in the lid. This time, he remembered to wear his shades before he got outside.
Carl found an empty wooden bench in the park nearby. He sat down, set his cup next to him, making sure it was level and wouldn’t tip over. He opened the bag, removed the bagel; the lox were wrapped separately. Carl pulled the halves of the warm, crispy bagel apart and slid the pink fish inside. He brought the food to his mouth and took a bite.
When it hit his taste buds, he was shocked. Carl had never tasted anything so good! Ravenous, he wolfed down the rest. Carl sat there, stunned for a moment. That was delicious.
Mechanically, he lifted the coffee to his lips and drank some. It was cold.
The church bells down the street rang once. One o’clock? How could that be? He had been sitting there for two-and-a-half hours. Carl shifted his weight, and realized both legs and his butt had fallen asleep. The pins and needles were excruciating. But they were nothing compared to what came next.
Carl’s stomach clenched. He doubled over. It felt like a spear was in his gut, a big one. The pain migrated. It went lower. The pressure was awful and intense. Carl lifted his shirt to look at himself. Something was pushing against his abdomen. He could see it, bulging under his skin. Watching and feeling it move inside him made him puke. He lurched to the side, but a lot of it got on him.
The thing inside Carl moved again and the pain almost made him pass out. He fell to the ground, writhing, groaning. He was distantly aware of a voice nearby. A man was talking to Carl, asking him if he needed help, if he needed a doctor.
“Get it outta me!” It was all he could manage. The stranger put a hand on Carl’s shoulder. His other hand pulled out a cell phone and dialed 911.
“Oh god! Oh my fucking god!” Carl ripped at his belt buckle, tore it open. He pulled his pants down as fast as he could. The bystander backpedaled, worried that this man might be crazy.
Carl bucked off the ground, screaming. Blood flecks flew out of his anus and the other man gasped and backed even further away. Carl’s whole body went rigid. He screamed once more and passed out.
The other man approached Carl, morbid curiosity forcing him to look. There on the ground lay a blood-covered lump. It was round, bumpy and looked too big to have been passed by a human being. The man looked closer, leaning in.
“What the hell,” he said. He recognized it. A bagel. A bagel that had been chewed and swallowed. Somehow, it had put itself back together inside this poor bastard’s stomach and forced its way out. “Jesus.”
Sirens approached the park, followed closely by police and an ambulance. The man told them what happened, nodding when they looked at him like he was crazy.
“I know what it sounds like,” he said. “But, that’s what happened. I’m not going to make something up just ‘cause the truth sounds crazy.”
He tried to show them the bagel, but it was gone. Of course it was.
The EMTs loaded Carl into the ambulance. Before the doors closed, the man heard one of the EMTs shout, “He’s flatlining!”
The man looked at the blood on the ground. There was a lot of it. Still no sign of the bagel. He shook his head. Maybe I’m losing it, he thought.
Then, he saw it.
The bagel was sitting on the bench, next to paper cup with a plastic lid. The lumpy circle of toasted dough was still wet with blood, but there seemed to be less of it. How did it get there? What the hell is going on?
He took a step toward the bench, never taking his eyes off the bagel. He squatted in front of the bench, leaned in for a closer look.
The bagel moved. The man flinched, but stayed where he was. He couldn’t take his eyes off the thing. It moved again, a little. The man watched, fascinated. He was pretty sure no one had ever seen anything like this. The bagel was inching its way across the bench in his direction. The whole event was surreal and captivating. The man noted that it left a trail of blood on the wood and wondered how long the bagel would take to reach the edge.
Then, Bang! It flew into his face, covering his nose and mouth. He couldn’t breathe: garlic and another man’s blood and feces filling his nostrils. He pried at it with his fingers, but it was already forcing itself into him, filling his throat and sinuses.
The man choked and gagged and clawed at his nose and mouth; he had time to think, Well, this is a stupid and absurd way to die. Then he was gone.
Max looked up as the bells on the door chimed. He grinned.
“Ms. Jessica!” he gave her a friendly wave. “So nice to see you.”
“Thanks, Max,” Jessica Saunders said. “Do you have any sesame bagels left?”
“Oh no,” Max said, full of regret. “I’m so sorry. We only have garlic left.”
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll take one of those. Toasted with lox, please.”