Short Stories

"Cold Beer - Cheap Rooms" at Nixes Mate Review

My flash fiction piece "Cold Beer - Cheap Rooms" now appears in Nixes Mate Review in their summer 2018 issue. As Nixes Mate says, "With every new horror, with every new heatwave, with every norm a carcass swept up in the dustbin of history there is always poetry and literature. ... We share new voices and returning voices, the voices of friends, voices of hope and voices of humor." This issue has a wide variety of voices and styles, and I hope you enjoy this new story of mine. Thanks!  

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New Flash Fiction "Two Kings" Now At Indigent Press

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My new flash fiction story "Two Kings" now appears at Indigent Press, which you can read online alongside a slew of other great poets and writers, including Heather Minette, Jason Ryberg, Kat Giordino, Paul Corman-Roberts, and a bunch of others. This quick little story of mine takes place just before Christmas as I scrounge for extra cash to get by and visit the quarreling "two kings" to trade gold for cash. I hope you enjoy. My deepest thanks goes to the Indigent Press editors for including my work!  

New Poem / New Flash Fiction in Kleft Jaw #11

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Kleft Jaw #11 just blew a hole in the internet with their 11th issue, and I'm grateful to have two pieces within, a poem titled "Lo Cool, 69 Degrees" and a flash fiction story called "$10,000" which used to be a poem I originally wrote in Colorado but I fleshed it out to an actual story because it needed more room to detail the weird encounter I had with a man in a coffee shop out in Ft. Collins a few years back. You can read these pieces in the online magazine, and please check out the other work and art in the issue. It's a wild collective over there and I'm always pumped to be included in some Kleft Jaw chaos.  

2017: The Year of Finishing Something...Anything!

2017: The Year of Finishing Something...Anything!

My 2017 writing life started by trying to revise a novel I had worked on for almost a decade, before deciding around March that it just wasn’t working. Plot holes kept shifting, twists I added to make the story unique only made other part of the story implausible, and I kept blending too many genres to the point where I didn’t know if the story was taking place in the past, present, or future, if it was a dystopian story or a noir or both or neither. I admit, I was making it too hard on myself, too complex, but I had lost the clear vision needed to simplify that story. I was in too deep and it just wasn’t working out. I love the characters so damn much, but I decided to stop for good (or...for now?) and pursue other projects I wanted to work on.

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My Top 5 H.P. Lovecraft Stories

My Top 5 H.P. Lovecraft Stories

If one were to build a Mount Rushmore of Horror Writers, you could easily suggest the faces of Poe, Shelley, and Stoker as starters, and some may propose Matheson, Blackwood, Jackson, and of course King, among many others, but for me, one name is a must—H.P. Lovecraft. Like Poe, Lovecraft’s work stands out from his contemporaries as so uniquely strange with such a singular aura that there hasn’t really been anyone like him before or since. Many were inspired by him, but few were as wholly odd in aesthetic, style, and life. 

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New Flash Fiction Inside Ink In Thirds Magazine

My flash fiction piece "Thompson Hill" now appears in Issue 10 of Ink In Thirds Magazine, on page 17. It's available in print or as a PDF that you can read online for free. The story is one of about thirty flash fiction pieces I'm hoping to include in a collection titled, at the moment, as Nights Without Rain, and I'm holding off on releasing the collection until one of my upcoming poetry books comes out. Both have a TBD release date, but I'm hoping it will be in late 2017. I'll keep you posted. As always, thanks for reading.      

New Flash Fiction in Full of Crow, Winter 2017

My flash fiction piece "Desperate Ain't Lonely" now appears in the Winter 2017 issue of Full of Crow. It's a brief story about a couple driving through the West Virginia mountains at night pondering what love and loneliness really mean. I'm planning to include the story in a collection of flash fiction perhaps later this year, tentatively titled Nights Without Rain. I'll post more about that as publication nears. And as always, thanks for reading!

Poems, Reviews, and Upcoming Fiction

It's been a busy winter so far, and it's only getting busier. Here's a rundown of what's out now and what's coming soon!

  • My review of Nice Feelings by Iris Appelquist now appears at Up The Staircase Quarterly, which is a stellar publication you should be reading.
  • My poem "Going Ghost" now appears at Boned, a journal of skeletal writings. I omitted this poem from my collection Berlin (Maverick Duck Press) so I'm happy it finally found a home.
  • My poem "Nights Don't Die" should appear in the upcoming issue of Five:2:One this month.
  • I have two flash fiction stories coming up in late winter: "Desperate Ain't Lonely" will appear in Full Of Crow, and "Thompson Hill" will appear in Ink In Thirds. I'll post links when they both hit!
  • And finally, for now, I recently had a poem called "The Carson Effect" in Winedrunk Sidewalk: Shipwrecked in Trumpland, and I'll soon have another titled "The Young May Love Without Fear". They publish a new poem every day of Trump's presidency, and if you're not the biggest fan of the current admin, you'll want to take a look.

Thanks for reading and all of your support!

The Review Review's Review of Drunk Monkeys Gives My Short Story "The Philanthropist" a Nod

In a review of Drunk Moneys first full issue of poetry and prose, The Review Review mentioned my short story "The Philanthropist" as a notable story within the collection. In calling out the story, The Review Review says it is one of the many in the issue that blurs the line between coincidence and circumstance, responsibility and guilt. The main character in the story is torn about what to do with the last of his tainted money from a heist job in which he gets screwed over by a criminal higher up in the food chain. He needs the money, but it reminds him of his stupidity, his guilt, his shame. He tries various ways to excise this guilt and rid himself of his money, before finally doing so in a most unexpected way. And The Review Review said, "There is something visceral in the relief that the protagonist feels in Duncan’s “The Philanthropist,” after he rids himself of his burden, something animal in his desire for simplicity." Check out the story and all the other great pieces found at Drunk Monkeys. Many thanks to The Review Review for taking the time to read the issue!  

"The Philanthropist," a short story

My short story "The Philanthropist" now appears at Drunk Monkeys, a fantastic literature and cultural website offering fiction, essays, poetry, reviews of books, movies, and more. This story is my second with them, and it mixes elements of noir and crime with a sobering look at life on the streets and what we value most when there's nothing left of value. I hope you enjoy the story, and if you do, consider picking up one of my short story collections, What Lies In Wait or The Cards We Keep, each full of similar tales. Thanks!  

What Lies In Wait - Just $10 Through Halloween!

It's that time of year where the leaves turn, the air gets cooler, and the ghost stories come out to play. If you're into that kind of thing, stories about a tentacled beast who dwells beneath the surface of a picturesque lake, of a house full of the ghosts of everyone who ever lived within its walls, of an abandoned car on a lonely country road with bloody handprints on the windows, of a motel in the Texas desert whose temporary residents are hunted by an ancient evil, of ... well, you get the idea: monsters, ghosts, and the end of the world. I've got you covered with What Lies In Wait! From now until Halloween, it's just $10 for print or $1 for the Kindle version. I hope you enjoy! 

    New Short Story "Long Road to Luckenbach" Now at Drunk Monkeys

    Call "Long Road to Luckenbach" flash fiction, call it a short short, but whatever it is, it's now live over at Drunk Monkeys, and I'm really excited to be there. The story, inspired by hearing Waylon Jennings' song on a jukebox, is a quick and (hopefully) amusing tale about how quickly plans can go awry when they're made over shots of whiskey in Texas dive bars. The story has a little truthful backstory to it, but I'll let the reader decide what really happened and what's fiction. The names, however, have been changed to protect the guilty! I hope you enjoy. 

    My Top 3: Stephen King Short Stories

    My Top 3: Stephen King Short Stories

    I still remember the first time I picked up Stephen King’s short story collection Night Shift, and after the first tale within I was forever changed. I had previously tried my hand at his novels when I was in middle school and early high school, but they never did much for me (not until much later), but those shorts…oh man, they got me good. Here are my Top 3 stories that sank in their claws and still haven’t let go.

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    My Writing & The Best of Old Time Radio

    My Writing & The Best of Old Time Radio

    Over the past several weeks, a number of people who have read or have heard me read aloud some short stories from my upcoming collection of fiction, What Lies In Wait, have commented that the stories would make intriguing radio plays and they remind them of those old time radio shows that aimed to give listeners a late night chill. There’s likely a good reason for this, as old time radio has long been a quiet passion of mine. Over the years I have been listening to a wide variety of suspense, mystery, horror, and crime radio programs from the 1930s through the late 1960s, using the Old Time Radio Internet Archive, which has hundreds if not thousands of episodes available for streaming or downloading. To say they have affected my storytelling in recent years is probably not giving them enough credit, as I’ve become absolutely fascinated with the eerie tension within these stories

    If you like podcasts like Serial, or if you are an audio-book junkie, you’ll love some of these old programs, and many are complete with their original commercials for everything from Wheaties to wine, coal to car batteries, and even U.S. war bonds. I throw them on my iPod and ride the subways of NYC listening to some of the best actors and writers to ever lend their talents to radio, people like Ray Bradbury, Humphrey Bogart, Vincent Price, Dorothy L. Sayers, Lucille Ball, Orson Welles, and many others. Below are my Top Five favorite programs that I highly recommend for all of you out there. 

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    What Lies In Wait: Crawling Closer Every Day

    I'm getting closer to having my next collection of short stories - What Lies In Wait - ready for all you eager readers out there, if only to help you level out your uneven coffee tables and couches. In all seriousness, I'm hoping you'll enjoy these fifteen eerie, pulpy, humorous, and memoir-ific tales, exploring all kinds of genres and stories, everything from a young boy's adventures while running away to the circus, a woman's struggle to decide what to do when the ghosts in her house portend a coming evil, and even a lumberjack stranded in the deep woods who finds himself hunted by an unspeakable, writhing beast. I'm getting back some fantastic edits and feedback from test readers, and there's some proofreading left to do, but the book is getting closer to a release with each passing week. Stay tuned! 

    What Lies In Wait, a New Review, and Other Updates!

    What Lies In Wait, a New Review, and Other Updates!

    I have so many new writing updates that I'll present them to you in lightning-round format. Ready? Let's go!

    1. What Lies In Wait will be the title of my upcoming collection of short stories, and I'm aiming for a mid-2015 release. I'm extremely happy that all fifteen stories are now finished, or finished enough for beta readers to finally give them a look. There's still tweaking and proofing to do, but the final lineup is set and it feels like a relief. All fifteen tales share elements of apprehension, fear, and a challenge to face, whether it's something out there in the dark or something within that must be put down. Half are straight-up horror, while others blend mystery, noir, and survival tropes into tales that fall between literary and genre-driven stories. I'm looking forward to feedback, and I'm always open to new test readers! 

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    The Cards We Keep - Signed Copies Available

    Signed copies of my short story collection The Cards We Keep will soon be available again! The book includes ten stories of down-and-out private detectives, bounty hunters on the run, disgraced celebrities, crumbling marriages, and boxcar hobos heading for the end of the line in search of love, redemption, and maybe just a little peace in this crazy world. Author Bud Smith recently said the books contains "wonderfully written short stories that take on a wide variety of genres, purposefully, and carries them through to succession with some sharp writing, interesting characters, and non-formulaic plotting." (See the full review at the link.) There are also a growing number of great reviews over at Goodreads. If there are any presses or magazines that would like to review the book, I have free PDFs and e-reader files I can send along. Just shoot me an email at jhdwriting@hotmail.com for details. Thanks for all of your support!  

    Up The Staircase Quarterly's Book Review of 'The Cards We Keep'

    Author, poet, and Up the Staircase Quarterly editor April Michelle Bratten has posted a great review of my collection of short fiction, The Cards We Keep. In part she says, "Duncan’s characters are genuinely interesting and relatable in all of these ten stories, no matter what strange or dangerous predicaments they might have gotten themselves into… (continued) 

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