What do we love most of all? The truth.
(I know, it seems weird coming from a place that focuses on fantasy, horror and general f@cked up-ness.)
But the truth, of a story, or a situation and how it resounds within the reader is what we love – not just ‘that might of happened’ but ‘that feels so real because I’ve felt that way too’ or ‘I can totally imagine myself in that same situation’ or ‘the elements of setting take on a life of their own and I am transported to another place‘ or ‘I am so in love with this writer’s voice that I can believe anything they say’ or, the truly magical lift of ‘the story somehow strikes a truth of society or self and resounds within the piece’.
And truly spectacular work is when it all happen at once.
Now the writers are all clamouring, trying to figure out how to make it happen here’s the answer – it depends and I dunno.
And now you hate me.
Let’s start with it depends – it depends on context, the right reader and the right place for the right work. Sometimes a piece that doesn’t fit the bill at one place works beautifully at another. Some of our favorites around Twisted Sister were rejected for various reasons elsewhere, and some of the stuff we passed over was featured positively in other places. Different strokes for different folks is what it comes down to.
Think of good writing as a dance between reader and writer, both partners need to be willing to engage and perform, if not, things fall flat. (And we all have our own favorite writers, what’s gold to one might be absolute drivel to another, and that’s fine, you don’t have to dance with everybody.)
Now for the one you hate — I dunno. How do you create art? the short answer is a lot of luck, and finding the elements within the piece and polishing them ‘til they shine, a sort of literary seizing of opportunity, if you will. How do you get there? Practice, keep writing, and writing. Play with structure, voice, and read other people’s work. You’d be amazed at what’s out there, you just have to find it.
Maybe it’s the bias of coming from a place from spending years inhabiting alternative realities (albeit fictious) but we love to escape, and then find ourselves all over again, which is what a good story does.
Without further adieu, here are our Top Ten Editor’s Picks, in no particular order:
Where the Spirits Take Us – Rob Dominelli’s piece was originally rejected by an anthology that didn’t understand that ‘In jail, everything is up,’ is probably the best opening line ever. This haunting story will have you rethinking addiction, incarceration, and the spirits around us. Very Canadian. Love this one.
Letter to the Editor – *dying of laughter* was my initial response. This letter killed me. Caleb Echterling’s work appears in various places around the ‘net (including winning contests and that kind of thing). Be sure to check out his On the Use and Misuse of the Queen’s English, The Trojan Pumpkin, and Have a Crappy Birthday.
Early American Bankers – Joshua Scully’s short story has the complexity and characters to form the basis of a novel, and we’re looking forward to seeing it unfold. His work around Twisted Sister includes A Farewell to Bill Paxton, Clockwork, The Fountain, A Christmas Tree to Die For, and Looking for Fun on All Hallows’ Eve.
Eventide – Jazmine Ellington has a lovely place spinning between magical fantasy and harsh reality, and we’re looking forward to seeing more work from her.
Joachim and the Vortex and The Duke of Dunstall – both stories bring in a sense of place, the landscape and climate of New Zealand through Kate Muroch’s voice and description, and both tip the scales into unsettling darkness.
Strike n’ Smash – Brookelynn Berry writes with a voice that makes your insides crawl up into themselves, and the stuff this guy does… well, you better read it yourself. (Her first part to this story was Frogs n’ Shit, and another part went over to Shotgun Honey.)
Cthulhu on a Tricycle – is another brilliant reject from the literary world. Ksenia Anske was asked to write this for an anthology, and then the story was deemed too graphic (something about the repeated attempts at an abortion that turned people off, and then there was the cat thing… ) but we loved it. Weird, grotesque, and darkly funny, all at once.
One Thousand Hours Free – Justin Hunter’s work appears places like Near to the Knuckle, Sick Lit, Firefly Magazine and Front Porch Review. This piece went through a couple editorial changes and we truly love this story, it has a lovely heartbreaking quality. Can’t say enough, just read the damned thing.
(Ed. Note — Yes, we know that’s eleven pieces. Or technically twelve. Or more. Just read ‘em already.)
(Ed. Note – even saying ‘honourable mentions’ sounds lame, because each piece is truly worthy in its own right (even those not mentioned below), and we just run out of space. Scroll through the site, you’ll be glad you did.)
Tinder Sacrifices Series (this series is still one of fotohack’s absolute favorite pieces)
Worth Mentioning and Well-Travelled Work from Twisted Sister regulars:
Be sure to check out Carly Zee’s two very different pieces – Marriage of the Eldritch Tales and Overwhelmed in the Feminine Hygiene Aisle (Yes, high horror and hygiene are both the subjects of two very different poems. Next step, combine them as one 😉
The Man Who Knew — This story by Liz McAdams has a weird story behind it – originally rejected by Twisted Sister, ‘The Man’ floated over to Scriggler and Commuter Lit, where it was received very favorably by both sites (top picks and pub of the day kind of thing) and then served as our literary lowering a flag to half-mast when Trump was elected president). Go figure.
Well known for going far over word count limits, Liz McAdams’ 4000+ word story, Thinner had the fate of being passed around the web, and was featured at different sites before landing at Twisted Sister (again, earning praise along it’s way). Kat and Hero had a similar backstory of bouncing around and then being featured here, and then popping up in other places.
And while you’re following all this bouncing around, check out an essay by Liz McAdams, Radio Airplay, Female Representation – Cutting the Backstory and Jumping into History (she took on a local radio station, and won). But it helps explain why a lit mag like Twisted Sister came into being.
Don’t forget our New Year, New Voices, All Lady Writer Round Up, and Let’s Hear it for the Guys, and some of our favorite issues are Payback, On the Rag, and our VD issue. And in case you missed our Count Down issue (where we unleased Twisted Sister upon some unsuspecting folks, inspiring both fear and excessive use of Vaseline), this one is definitely worth reading.
Finally, if you’re thinking of joining the Freaks and Weirdos around here, drop us at line at email@example.com – just copy and paste your work right into the email, or use our hand form over here, ‘cuz at the end of the day, dear readers and writers, we want YOU!