Dolls in Welcome to Effham Falls

When did you last visit Winesburg, Ohio, spend time in Staggerford, Minnesota, or listen in on the gossiping residents of Little Wing, Wisconsin? None of these places can be found on any map or atlas, and yet for readers of Sherwood Anderson, Jon Hassler, or Nikolas Butler, these fictional Midwestern small towns are just as real as those you might travel to by car. You only need to lift the book off the shelf to be transported once more.

Those who love speculative fiction may fondly recall spending time in Ray Bradbury’s Green Town, Illinois, or visiting the haunted regions of Stephen King’s Castle Rock, Maine. “It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state,” begins Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree,” which opens by describing an ordinary place in every way until sunset when “night came out under each tree and spread,” ushering the reader into the world of the strange. 

Readers can now add a new town on the map of imaginary places. With this publication, prepare to travel to Effham Falls, Minnesota, a small town where reality and the supernatural coexist.

So, prepare yourself now for Effham Falls, Minnesota. The stories that follow traverse a terrain that includes both the literary and the supernatural, but no matter the genre, the characters here in this place face hard choices. How can a woman dispose of the ashes of a man who mistreated her in life? What mystery lies behind the discovery of a ring with a finger still attached? What mission brings a stranger from distant St. Paul? Demons and doppelgangers and antique dolls capable of possession await in these pages. Both books and bookstores may become doorways to magic. How far will the characters go to find fortune, even if it means resorting to robbery, cheating, or braving a curse? The only thing certain in Effham Falls, is that nothing will quite be the same again.

Welcome to Effham Falls, reader. May you enjoy your stay here and come again.

–Thomas Maltman, author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves, and The Land

Coming Soon Spring 2023

Dolls is a short story in Welcome to Effham Falls

Coming Soon

Chris Stenson

Available Spring 2023

Paperback and Kindle

Reviews

Planted in Fear Forge: Spring Quarter 2023 Edition

Planted is a short story in Fear Forge: Spring Quarter 2023 Edition

Rain poured down in torrents, pooling and disturbing the soil. Mud dripped into Amanda’s eyes. Darkness pressed in all around her, but the weight of the soil comforted her like a therapeutic blanket. They had buried her. Dead or alive, she wasn’t sure anymore.

                She wriggled her fingers.

                The rush of rainwater lasted several days. Soaked and chilled, she lay trapped in her damp grave as lizards and snakes crawled over her face and torso. Insects and small rodents nestled beside her, making nests in her hair. Inch by inch, the continuing storm washed away the dirt and stones that covered Amanda’s upper torso.

Amanda dug at the saturated soil covering her legs until her fingers were raw and black blood oozed from under her nails. In the darkness, slipping and sliding, she crawled out of the water-logged hole. Above her, moonbeams filtered through the bare tree branches. She cracked her jaw.

                A bouquet of delicious odors wafted from deeper in the woods. Ripe, rotting flesh and congealed blood made Amanda’s mouth water. She licked her lips and followed her nose.

                High up in an oak tree, a body swung from a limb. Amanda grabbed the lowest branch and climbed. Saliva flooded her mouth when she reached the rotted and bloated corpse. While untying the knot, her hand brushed one of the many black festering lesions on the female corpse. The woman’s death screams filled Amanda’s mind and she clutched her head in agony.

Chris Stenson

Available March 1st, 2023

Paperback and Kindle

Reviews

The Last Door in Tales from the Frozen North: A Winter Anthology

In the Frozen North, there is something about settling into a comfortable chair with a warm beverage and reading a good book.

With a variety of short stories, poems, and a record blizzard, this anthology will appeal to a broad range of readers.

So settle in and enjoy, Tales from the Frozen North.

Amy Scheibe * Barbara Bustamante * Sadie Mendenhall-Cariveau * Rick Bylina * William Bartlett * TJ Fier * Marc de Celle * Tina Holland * Donna R. Wood * Brandi Malarkey * Lyn Stoltenow * Susette Quinn * Alexander Vayle * Wayne McFarland * Jason Bursack * Robin Cain * Chris Stenson * Eileen Tronnes Nelson

The Last Door is a short story in Tales from the Frozen North: A Winter Anthology

Billy rolled over and hit snooze. His dog, Arlo, jumped on the bed, licked his face with reckless abandon, urging him out of bed. He playfully swatted Arlo and rubbed his head. “Enough. I know what time it is.”

Outside the snow swirled into large pillowy drifts. Maybe school would be canceled today?

He gathered his winter gear and proceeded to get dressed as Arlo’s tail waved in anticipation. He gazed at his dog, “I’m hurrying.”

Chris Stenson

Available Now!

Paperback and Kindle

Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I enjoyed each and every short story in this book. I could relate to most of them due to my upbringing in the Midwest. Great book!

Lanna Lucky, Amazon, October 28, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Really Enjoyed the short by Sue Quinn!!!

Rod Manning, Amazon, June 28, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a fun introduction to many authors.
These are all stories with cold or snow, each quite different from the others. It starts with terrific humor in “A Cold You Couldn’t Forget”. I loved it! The next story has a dysfunctional family dealing with death. “Universal Tree” is sweet, where the care of a Christmas tree and the anticipation unites friend.

“No Title” is rich in the science and reality of winter. “The cold outside stings exposed skin like tiny ant bites.” “The Island” by William Bartlett has an unexpected twist on mythology. Lovely! “The Hunt” is interesting, with a trans person seeking to escape their fate. There’s a winter poem with great imagery. Then a sweet romance with a bear shifter and a snow-maker fae.

”Hoar Frost” by Brandy Malarkey concerns a girl whose Mom tries to shape her into a proper lady. She learns to be “less and less as she grows older.” “I have learned that ‘whore’ is used to dismiss many who dare to sparkle . . . who do not seek their reflection in other people’s eyes.”

There’s another romance by S Y Quinn, then a tense drama by William R Bartlett: What would you do if you found a bucket of mobster money? Robin Cain writes about American homelessness. These stories are all well written. It’s an impressive variety of stories connected by the cold, an introduction to new authors. Well done!

J.S. Burk, Goodreads, May 29, 2022.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Got this because my cousin Susette Quinn has a story in it. She did great, as did the other writers.

Susan, Amazon, May 9, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I may seem biased because I am one of the authors, but I am subjective as well. There is amazing talent here in one collection. The genres are diverse, the styles are unique and there truly is something for everyone.

Sadie D. Mendenhall-Cariveau, Amazon, March 20, 2022

Roadkill Surprise in The Horror Zine Magazine Summer 2021 Paperback

Since 2009, The Horror Zine has published exceptional horror fiction by emerging talent and today’s leading authors. Editor Jeani Rector selects only the most inventive and captivating tales for each issue. In addition to short fiction, The Horror Zine features amazing poetry and artwork. Now The Horror Zine brings you the dark delights from the ezine into a print magazine.

The Summer 2021 issue features Maureen O’Leary, Michael J. Moore, Timothy Wilkie, Roger Cowin, Michael Burke, Chris Stenson, Dan A. Cardoza, Marlon S. Hayes, William Falo, Dacre Stoker and Dr. Chris McAuley, Jessica Daly, William Couper, Joseph V. Danoski, Claire T. Feild, Fred R. Kane, Patricia L. Stover, Stephanie Smith, Donna Dallas, M.J. Holmes, John Grey, Yuan Hongri, Sharmila Mitra, Marlon S. Hayes, Steven Translateur, Elen Mart, Vera Chemysheva, J.B. Lee, Liliia Beda, Igor Vitkovskiy, and Aldo Lira.

Roadkill Surprise is a short story in The Horror Zine Magazine Summer 2021 Edition

A savage cry cut through the forest.

Animals of all sizes stood at rapt attention. Minutes passed. Ears twitched and nostrils flared. A small creature broke from the snowy undergrowth and dashed towards freedom, zigzagging around tree trunks and diving through thickets of thorns, employing whatever acrobatics it could to keep death at bay.

A darkness blacker than the shadows followed. Rage built inside. The hunger grew. The tiny morsel wouldn’t sedate its appetite. The creature desired flesh—tender and sweet, and blood, rich and warm.

Chris Stenson

Available Now!

Paperback and Kindle

Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Horror zine is a jewel in the horror community. Over the years, the editor has ensure that the high
quality is maintained. Top notch horror writers often appear in the horror zine, both in terms of interviews and stories. Keep up the great work.

BiggyD, Amazon, October 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

All the stories are well written, with many fine and memorable moments. Poetry is excellent, artwork superb. Overall, a very interesting and entertaining read.

Joseph Danoski, Amazon, August 23, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Quality from cover to cover. If you like contemporary horror, this Zine is for you.

DTTD, Amazon, September 15, 2021

Two Bobby’s in the The Gates of Chaos Anthology

Cha·os /ˈkāˌäs/ complete disorder and confusion.

Assaulted from all directions by natural disasters, political upheavals and viral pandemics, we often feel we are living in a time of chaos. But imagine how much worse things can get. We still sleep in our warm beds, are able to eat, to drive, to vote, to think freely. Are we truly living in a time of chaos, or do we merely stand on the precipice, waiting at the gates? Can we possibly imagine the true horror that awaits us on the other side?

In 2020, amidst the panic and confusion of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the online group Horror Writers Net tasked its most twisted and deranged minds with imagining the worst. This anthology of 20 short tales of Horror fiction is the result of their efforts. A work of passion and fear, the collection features illustrations by pen & ink artist Will Jacques, and stories by B.T. Noonan, Jesse D’Angelo, N.M. Brown, Wayne Hartshorn, Florence Ann Marlowe, Adam Michael Dodds-Wade, Brianna Van Riet, James Miles, Valkyrie Kerry, Nelson Hurley, Chris Stenson, Scott Dyson, Jim Falcon, and Rob Harman.

Pass through these gates at your own risk.

Two Bobby’s is part of The Horror Writers Network Anthology Gates of Chaos.

The darkness of the stairway seemed to swallow Bobby as he ascended. He made careful steps, his favorite blanket clutched in his fingers, thrown over his shoulder like a protective cape. He sensed something was wrong before the smell crinkled his freckled nose. A rotten, earthy aroma floated down from the second floor. He stopped at the top of the stairs; the dread of the unknown prickled his skin. – Chris Stenson

Drawn by Will Jacques

Available Now!

Paperback and Kindle

Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love short stories and this collection was incredibly satisfying! The stories are all so different, and many are so macabre, suspenseful, imaginative and original. My favorites have to be “Lockdown and Macabre” by James Miles, “America’s Pastime” by Scott Dyson, and “4300 Tennessee Avenue” by Jesse D’Angelo! It is also adorned with beautiful pen and ink artwork for each story. A welcome addition to my home library, and highly recommended to any fans of Horror short stories!

P-Russo, Amazon, February 11, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Nice mix of author styles. Stories were well written. It really explained how people were feeling through the pandemic like we were all going crazy at times.

Marcella, Amazon, July 7, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My favorite story so far is Two Bobbies. I have been blown away by this story in the anthology. The imagery is tangible and evokes such incredible emotion from me as both a reader and a parent. It is incredibly suspenseful with a twist ending!

I highly recommend the anthology with this story being, for me, the crowning piece!

Sadie D. Mendenhall-Cariveau, Amazon, June 10, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Several excellent stories, for which I recommend this anthology for those alone.

Rob Harman, Goodreads, June 4, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It had some very different stories. Good read.

Amazon Customer, May 2, 2021

I think the first thing that was really fetching about this anthology wasn’t just the solid collection of stories, but also the fantastic collection of artwork proceeding each story. Kinda gives it the feel of a Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark, except for adults. The artwork was fascinating and I appreciate the added effort.

Reed Alexander Horror Reviews, April 22, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Overall, a great concept and a good effort. I would have enjoyed it more if the pandemic was more in the forefront of the stories – however, who really wants to think about the pandemic anymore anyway.

M. Todd, Goodreads, March 08, 2021
Gates of Chaos Podcast Review