Micro-Horror: The Package

A young student living in an apartment building was surprised to find upon checking their mailbox that a book due to arrive that day had not. There was nothing waiting for them outside the apartment door in the building hallway, and when checked online, the package said “delivered.”

The following day the student received a different package from a courier, and decided to ask the woman whether she recalled a parcel from the previous day and whether it may have been delivered to the wrong apartment.

“Oh yes,” the courier answered. “There was a package for you yesterday. I dropped it off to the other young man at around two.”

The student shivered.

“But I live alone,” they said.

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Pimp My Bio 2017

Having previously written a Pitchwars mentee bio for the 2015 contest, I’ve decided to up the ante this time by outing myself publicly as an Evil Space Monster From Beyond. I know this will come as a shock to a great many people (less so others–Mom, Dad, Agnes, Lucas . . .), but I feel it’s important to announce this now to set myself apart from the rest of the (human) crowd.

Feeding off fresh human flesh has long put me at a disadvantage, professionally speaking. While applying for PhD programs it was often the case that application forms would explicitly prohibit flesh-eating within the walls of academic institutions, meaning that days spent lecturing, TAing, or attending classes would see me missing important meals and lacking essential nutrients (like those provided by human bone marrow). Luckily, Concordia University’s Religious Studies department provides a safe haven for us self-identified muscle-masticating monsters, and I now have the opportunity to live openly and comfortably while pursuing higher education on a full stomach (watch out if you’re late to class!).

While most days I take advantage of the plowed and salted sidewalks to walk to campus, I am also lucky enough to have been provided two feline space beasts, who I will occasionally harness to my death chariot for faster-than-light travel. The nice lady at the cat rescue seemed to think these were normal animals, but I think you’ll agree that Figure 1 proves otherwise:
Figure 1. (undoctored)

Somehow, despite the rigors of coursework and grading, I completed my second manuscript (formerly and affectionately known–by me–as Lesbian Vikings) this winter. Since, as an Evil Space Monster From Beyond, I love tearing things into itty-bitty pieces, the prospect of revising Lesbian Vikings during Pitchwars appeals to me on a primal level.

As a mentee, I promise not to bite (much).

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Silly Things That Put Me in a Bad Mood


1.When the easy-to-open plastic tear-y bits on frozen fruit packets won’t tear.
2. People walking up/down the wrong stairs and/or wrong side of the hallway/street.
4.Websites and posts that insist on list format.

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A Heartwarming Story of Christmas Cheer

Full disclosure: I wrote this in just over half an hour for a Flash Fiction contest, then missed the deadline. It is probably terrible.

Also, this is the kind of place my mind goes when I hear “winter holiday celebration.” Deepest apologies. 

A Heartwarming Story of Christmas Cheer

“Great, Gary, that’s great.”

“We’ve got others—I mean. If you prefer a red suit I can do red no problem.”

“No, no. Orange is fine. Really. She won’t mind.”

“You sure? ‘Cause I can do red. Still three days.”

“No,” I say, though my gut tells me yes, ask for a red one. You paid for a red one. Gloria specifically asked for a red one. It’s Christmas for chrissakes, and you know how Gloria is and the fuss she’ll make and how she’ll accuse you of not paying attention, or caring, or not caring like you used to, and–

“Orange is a bit like red,” says Gary.

But the suit’s very orange, and Gloria knows the goddamned difference between red and goddamned orange.

“It’s fine,” I say.

“Well, okay then. Sorry. I hope she likes it.”

“She will,” I lie.

Gary lovingly folds the suit along the slender lines that mark its seams. They won’t stay, the seams. Gary’s good about that. Once the suit is on, there’s never a seam in sight.

I make my way down Fourth. There’s a Santa Claus standing outside a department store, bobbing a rusty bell up and down like a character out of a bad Dickens adaptation. His skin is patchy, his flesh riddled with the cuts and stitches that come with too many re-skinnings.

A beautiful woman crosses his path and mine, and for a moment there’s a glow in his eyes of lust, or sadness, or of want. The beautiful woman turns and smiles, not at him, but at me, and I see that she, too, is full of stitches.

The woman drops the bag she’s carrying, stumbles as she tries to reach for it, and ends up in a heap in the road. I rush to her side, even as another, handsomer man in a green skin-suit stops to help her.

The man recoils when he sees the cheapness of her flesh. The mottled colour. As he moves off, I move in. I help her to her feet, peeking into the bag she dropped.

“It’s for my husband,” she says. She looks down at the ground, ashamed.

The suit is clearly secondhand.

“It’s all right,” I say. “I know a shop.”

“No. You don’t understand. I don’t have the money, and he–”

I notice for the first time the bruise on her cheek. I think of Gloria, and her yelling, and what she’ll do when she sees the orange suit.

The woman’s hand is worn, calloused. It’s been skinned before, then re-skinned. I lead her quietly toward Gary’s store.

I call Gloria and tell her to meet me at Gary’s shop. By then I’ve already slipped Gary a wad of bills, with a wink and a nod at the back room.

Gloria isn’t long. Gary tells her he has something in the back room. After half an hour he returns. The woman looks to Gary and then to me, questioning. I nod. I smile.

Gary and the woman are gone for some time. When Gary returns it’s not the woman with him anymore, but Gloria, blushing, touching her cheeks. There’s not a scratch on her. Not a stitch.

Gary’s good about that. Once the suit is on, there’s never a seam in sight.

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What I Like to Lie About

While drinking my beer last night and enjoying my usual evening wind-down routine I started to think (oh dear) about the public face we put on in terms of our activities and our interests.

At this point I’ve written who knows how many applications for programs and grants, queries to agents and contests, profiles for social media and dating websites, and at some point in at least one of each of those I’ve listed my hobbies.

It’s usually the same old list:

“I like reading, writing, drawing, academic-ing, cooking, attempting to knit and ending up in a yarn prison of my own construction.”

And all of that is true, absolutely. I do write. I do draw. I do construct yarn prisons.

BUT. What do I really do in my free time? It seems to me that the more honest answer would be substantially more long-winded and less inspiring. I do a lot more thinking about writing, thinking about cooking, and thinking about how I should get better at drawing and yarn prisons than I do actively engage in those pastimes.

So here, undoctored, is what I did last night. I think it gives an accurate picture of me and my strengths:

– Listened to “Which Witch” by Florence and the Machine five times in a row to warm me up for . . . something? One of the above activities.

– Checked my e-mail in case in the time I was listening to Florence and the Machine I got a response from the agent I queried this morning (because that happens, obviously. This is how these things work in my experience).

– Realized there was no music playing as I checked Query Tracker and put back on Florence.

– Remembered I hadn’t replied in my roleplay with my partner. Started to reply, realized music wasn’t playing, etc, etc.

– Discovered the bakery I like in Toronto supplies baked goods to a nearby grocery store and proceeded to rant in all caps on facebook about this.

– Decided I ought to listen to something other than “Which Witch”, because really, shouldn’t you diversify a bit? This is something important you need to do RIGHT NOW.

– Put on a different Florence and the Machine song.

– Felt accomplished.

– Remembered to be stressed out about global warming.

– Drank some beer and ate an only slightly terrible pancake.

– Realized I hadn’t watched that trailer I like from Scott Pilgrim in a while. Watched trailer.

– Watched trailer for pretty much every movie I’ve ever seen, even ones I didn’t like. Trailers are my milk and mead. This is, perhaps, my most honest interest.

– Having accomplished the listening to  of one different song and the watching of many trailers, decided this was a good end to the night and that I should write this blog post about my doings in the morning. I am a clever sort.

For future reference:

Steve Hugh Westenra is a comic shop manager, Religious Studies grad student, and spec-fic writer. He enjoys talking about what he’s going to write, “I don’t know, one day when I have the time,” listening to the same song on repeat for hours until he loses the desire to listen to it ever again for at least a year, re-watching movie trailers (less so movies), refreshing his e-mail obsessively, and lamenting the larger global problems that his OCD likes to bring up while using pen lids to clean his ears. He is adept at scratching is head, thinking about doing things, worrying that he types “haha” too much in his electronic communications, and deciding that somehow, in some way, he is responsible for all major crises occurring everywhere in the world at any given time. Also he likes animals.

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Hybrid Release

HYBRID (The Domino Project #2) goes out into the world today.

We’re celebrating with an excerpt reading, and a giveaway!


If you haven’t read CHAMELEON – it’s on sale until the end of 11/12/15 for $0.99


K.T. Hanna reads an excerpt


As Sai recovers from her life-threatening injuries, she struggles to piece together her damaged relationship with Dom. He fights the parasite within, suddenly freed from the interference of the other Dominos in his head.

Inside Central, Bastian’s Shine dosing has become a dangerous dance. Enhanced security protocols and endless meetings have him on a tightrope, with little room to move without revealing himself.

When the GNW release the Damascus to begin their systemic hunt of the Exiled, the noose closes around the rebels and their allies. If they can’t disable the threat, the Exiled won’t be the Damascus’ only agenda.


Praise for Chameleon – The Domino Project #1

“Wow! A fast-paced, science fiction delight with fabulous action, a seamless world, and the most unique characters I’ve read in a long time.”
Elana Johnson, Author of the Possession Series.

“Nikita-like post-apocolyptic novel with a heroine that would give Katniss a run for her money.”
Alina @ Unfazeable.com

Psionics is wicked cool and I wish a meteor would give me some super-secret powers. The logistics of the abilities are many, and normally would have been a nightmare to follow. Hanna handles it with enough subtle description laced through the opening chapters that you’re able to grasp their powers naturally.
Heather @ Aussie Owned and Read

A seriously great sci-fi. Dark, edgy and complex. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a gripping read because of the author’s tense voice; the characters are well defined, believable and likeable, despite all of their flaws; the story flows well; and the ending leaves you on edge to read more. If you like sci-fi, you will love this book.
Kate Foster – Author of Winell Road

HYBRID is available at the following retailers


Watermark Books – Signed Copies!

Celebrate HYBRID’s release with us!

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Secret Wizards, or My #PitchWars Nightmare

Like many #PitchWars hopefuls last night, I finally puffed myself up and hit submit on my long-gestating query.

Were my pages good enough? Was that opening line the perfect balance between titillating and meaningful?

It turned out, to my subconscious mind, it didn’t really matter.

Why? Two words:

Secret wizards.

After falling asleep on the couch being tenderized by my parents’ cat, my fiendish mind conjured my perfect #PitchWars nightmare.

As it turned out, the procedure for selecting mentees had changed. No longer was this the friendly, twitter-based community I’d grown used to. Now the mentors organized their critiques around a forum, with groups of mentors ganging up on potential mentees to bombard them with dramatic insults as to their craftsmanship, and professionalism.

Each mentee was given a number (I was #19–I think I got this number from the example on the submission box). All five mentors I’d submitted to started a chat about #19, typing sentence-long reasons why this was the Absolute Worst Thing They’d Ever Read. How dare I? Did I even* read books? What did I think words were???

My submission was so awful, a mentor I hadn’t even queried chimed in to tell me how sub-par my efforts were.

I was devastated. I hadn’t prepared for this.

The worst thing about my MS, according to the mentors, were all the wizards. Why did one of the MCs turn into a wizard halfway through? Why did he have lightning powers?? Why did I have to list the entire rank and file of all the wizards on his wizarding council??? Why on the second page????

Wizards were so old hat.

But, I protested**, my MS doesn’t have wizards.

It was then I reopened the file I’d uploaded.

To my horror I discovered my MS was not only littered with secret wizards, but that five pages of it were taken up by wizard mugshots, each wizard council member lovingly*** illustrated in a small rectangle, his wizarding stats listed below. Wizards were nine to a page, all bearing the same purple robe and pointed hat speckled with stars, each with a long grey beard, and an identical Where’s Waldo-ian expression.

All my MCs were wizards. The plot was wizards. In fact, the plot was not so much a plot at all, as a collection of bad drawings of old white dudes at the same, three-quarter angle.

And that’s the end of my #PitchWars nightmare, a real dream I had that I’m happy to have suffered, if only so my pain can serve to uplift those awaiting judgement with me.

At least our manuscripts aren’t full of secret wizards.****

*Note to self–delete crutch words later.
**Replace with said.
**** Unless you do have secret wizards, in which case, um, I don’t really know, but that’s awesome.

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