Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, my weekly prompt story and Halloween celebration! Enjoy...

By Chris Munroe

And welcome back to Zombie chat! We’ve got some amazing guests joining us on the show tonight and we can’t wait to get started.

First up we’ve got Nobel prizewinning economist Paul Krugman joining us, and we’re going to eat his brain. Our musical guest is Canadian ‘90s power poppers The Odds, playing one of their classic hits. Finally, the head chef of a popular downtown restaurant will be dropping by to cook us a meal involving a surprising secret ingredient!

But first, what’s left of David Mitchellson is outside with the action weather report. Take it away, David!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Publish or Perish

Last December I joined a Facebook group for aspiring writers.

Publish or Perish.

The group was fairly self-explanatory. I pledged to take my writing more seriously, to finish the projects I started and to actually edit and submit my work for publication upon it’s completion. In exchange, the group offered a forum in which to communicate with other writers in the same position, a place to vent, moral support and a clearly defined goal.

Publish one story, just one, in a major print magazine over the course of calendar 2011. How hard could it possibly be? I had a whole year in which to do it!

I figured the group would give me the kick in the pants I needed to get some pages written and it honestly has. I’ve gotten more work done this year than I ever have, and I credit the group with a large part of the motivation that took. I’ve kept up my friday flash stories week after week, expanded them from drabbles to stories of 500 to 3000 words, and even have my first novel outlined and ready to begin drafting come November. I’ve placed stories on a number of online magazines and podcasts, including appearances on some of my favorite audio fiction ‘casts. Hearing my work performed makes me prouder than I can say.

But I still haven’t placed a story in a major print magazine.

I’m doing my best not to worry about it, but sometimes I can’t help it. The twelve month deadline the group imposed seemed like forever when I joined up, but now it’s nearly November and, while I’ve accomplished a lot, the one hard, fast goal they established continues to elude me. I’ve even started having stress dreams about the deadline, now only two months away.

Which I understand is dumb. Stressing out never helped accomplish anything. But I can’t help it.

After all, they made it perfectly clear what was expected of me. Publish one story, just one, in a major print magazine over the course of calendar 2011. And they made the consequences of failure equally clear. I mean, it was right in the name of the group, and I did join of my own free will…

I do still have two months. I’m still writing, and improving every day. I’m still editing and submitting, and it’s certainly not too late.

But, in the meanwhile, I’ve bought a gun.

Just in case.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Prompt Story: Zoo

As heard on the current edition of "100 Word Stories"

By Chris Munroe

“You will not turn this courtroom into a zoo!”

The judge seethed, and I suppose I saw his point. Calling a lion tamer in as a character witness was one thing, but a cage of monkeys as “evidence” in a murder trial was beyond the pale.

Perhaps I should have apologized.

Instead I threw open the cage.

Monkeys exploded out of it, and everything was chaos. Lawyers, bailiffs and jurors scrambled, dodging flying poo as best they could. Hilarious.

I was sad to make my exit amidst that grand chaos.

But I had to. They’d have inevitably found me guilty…

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Recounting of the War on Emo

In 2006, at England’s annual Reading Festival, Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance shared the main stage, with Panic! taking the stage Friday and My Chemical… following them Sunday. The decision to involve the two bands was a controversial one, as the Reading Festival had a history of hosting harder rock groups, and plenty of fans were unimpressed by the decision to feature them so prominently.

However, nobody knew exactly HOW unimpressed the hard rock fans were until, the Friday of the festival, midway through Panic! At the Disco’s set, a 2L pop-bottle, emptied and refilled with human urine, came sailing from the crowd, colliding with the side of one band-member’s skull, knocking him unconscious.

He was only unconscious a few minutes, but it was long enough that the set was cancelled. This cancellation proved to be a mistake on the part of the organizers…

…because Sunday, when My Chemical Romance took to the stage, they were assailed by a barrage of detritus the likes of which no band had ever weathered. They played as much of their planned set as they could manage, then beat a hasty retreat. The crowd, realizing their power to prevent shitty bands from being inflicted on them, howled in victory as they fled the stage.

The opening shots had been fired. The War on Emo, as New Musical Express later dubbed it, had begun, and the time had come for everyone to choose a side.

The war went on for years.

There were bad times, to be sure. There are always bad times in war. I was there when the last of us pulled out of MySpace, abandoning it to our enemies forever. I was on the roof of our embassy as self-important poetry and simplistic rock riffing closed in on us and we feared the helicopters wouldn’t get us away in time. I sometimes wonder if my old MySpace profile is still there somewhere, amongst the Emo wreckage that once was a social media site. We promised we’d one day be back, but in our hearts we knew we never would…

But battles won and lost are, ultimately, irrelevant. In war there is one party triumphant, and the individual battles leading up to that point are nothing more than sideshows.

Which is why the real victory, the only lasting one, was the final one. When Fall Out Boy was forced to tour jointly with 50cent in a desperate attempt to stay in the size of venue they’d grown used to and then, a few weeks later, they were forced to cancel that tour in it’s entirety due to lackluster ticket sales we knew the war was coming to an end. By the time Fall Out Boy split up, a month after that, it was almost anticlimactic. We’d won, the genre was no longer a force to fear, and all that was left for us to do was to mop up the scattered remnants of what once was a potent, if god-awful, cultural force.

We congratulated ourselves mightily upon that day. Perhaps too mightily, our hubris in victory leaving us unprepared for future challenges. And yet all I can bring myself to wish for now is to be back in those heady days, to have more time to enjoy our moments of triumph…

Because now we live in utter squalor, scrabbling from day to day with neither plan nor hope. Our forces lay in ruin and those who survive wish they had not. We sleep, when we can sleep, in the burned out husks of buildings where once grand music played, and always that infernal WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB is there, in the background, like the endless heartbeat of some horrible, ancient deity.

Because Emo, you see, was all that had stood between us and Dubstep. And now, heavens help us, there’s no hope left for any of us….

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Story Prompt: Leaves

By Chris Munroe

The leaves on the trees turn red and gold and brown, and soon they’ll be gone.

I’ve a Scotch/Irish complexion, and I burn and peel in the summer, so when the fall breeze first blows I breathe a silent sigh of relief at having made it through another one. I grab a trenchcoat, an umbrella, and hit the streets to enjoy the season that seems made for me.

Soon Canadian winter will be upon me once again, and I’d be cursing the bitter cold. But at this moment, I’m too swept up in the breathtaking beauty of autumn to care.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Journey Into... (shameless self promotion)

For those of you interested in my work outside of this blog (I assume that includes most of you) my flashfiction piece "The Box" has been produced for the excellent Journey Into... podcast. The 'cast, for those of you not yet aware of it, is a relatively young podcast with a wider mandate as to what it produces than most venues. And it is excellent, in 15 episodes it's yet to fail to impress me.

Now, you guys: Listen to it. You already like my writing, otherwise you wouldn't be here, and hearing it produced increases the total amount of my work in your life. And what could be better than more Munsi!?!?!?? Here's the link:

...and when you're done, go back and listen to the back episodes, it really is a consistently fine 'cast.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Audition

I’d never placed an ad on Craigslist before, but the interface was user-friendly enough, so no trouble there…

Wanted: Young, uninhibited women to audition for BJ videos. Pays $50 to auditioners, $500 to the women cast in the actual video. Nude scenes necessary, contact email below.

The email address was a dummy I’d set up for the purposes of the ad. I knew I’d be receiving a lot of email from a lot of women I’d likely want nothing to do with, and I wanted to be able to abandon the address when I was done with it, never thinking of any of it ever again.

I mean, who responds to an ad like that?

A surprising number of people, as it turns out...

I don’t know if it’s the economy or what, but when I checked my email Monday I already had three hundred replies. Three hundred women who, for one reason or another, were willing to respond to an add like that on Craigslist. Disturbing, if you think about it.

I tried not to think about it as I deleted each and every one of the emails, unread.

This wasn’t about them, it’d never been about them. Their emails were just a byproduct of an unrelated agenda.

I wasn’t even really paying attention to their subject lines as I deleted them. I knew what I was looking for, and I knew it wasn’t there.

You’d already told me, after all, to expect your email Tuesday.

By which point another hundred fifty emails had arrived. Weeding through them was tougher, logistically speaking, as this time I was actually looking for something. But eventually all but one had been deleted. I responded as politely and professionally as I could, you responded back, an uncomfortable edge to your email, and we made our plans to meet.

So here I am, in a hastily constructed video studio in my living room, waiting for you to arrive. And when you do, we’ll see how your “audition” goes, and if you do well, we’ll see what other “projects” I might want to involve you in.

And I’ll do my best, through all of this, to be comfortable with the part I am to play in the process.

I honestly will do my best, nervous and somewhat icky though I am by the seediness of it all.

I’ll do it because you’re my wife.

And I love you.

And yes, I’m willing to play along with your kinks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


From a prompt from the excellent 100 Word Stories podcast, found here:

By Christopher Munroe

Five days into growing a moustache I looked like a pedophile. I’ll own that.

The percentage of people who actually suit one, after all, is frighteningly small. Still, I commit to what I do, so the ‘stache was staying.

Until you got me drunk, waited for me to pass out and shaved it.

The next day, I faced my still-moustachioed friends, clean-shaven.


You thought I’d forgive this betrayal.

I’ll never forgive. Nor will I forget.

I’ll always remember, the fifth of Movember. The moustaches, treason and plot. I see no good reason moustaches and treason should ever be forgot.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


To Marcus Pembilton
C.O. The Edmonton Institution
21611, Meridian Street
PO Box 2290
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3H7

Dear Marcus:

In the eighteen months since you moved from our fine neighborhood, I’ve agonized over whether or not to write you. I know you didn’t leave us on the best of terms and that, due to the unusual circumstance of your departure, you’ve likely had more important things on your mind than the old Neighborhood Association, but after thinking and praying on the question, I’ve finally decided to sit down and attempt to put my feelings about the incident on paper, to explain them to myself as much as to you.

First of all, I’d like you to know that in the weeks immediately following your arrest, the whole Association came to your defense. When the news media arrived I was on camera that very night explaining that you’d always been a quiet, polite person, the sort that keeps to himself. I don’t know if you saw the footage, but it was picked up by CNN and broadcast internationally. I’ll tell you, I didn’t expect THAT kind of celebrity when I allowed myself to be interviewed, though I do admit I found it kind of flattering. When it aired, I called all my friends to tell them to tune in!

Your trial was equally well covered by the news, and it seemed for a while that it was the only thing happening in the world, to hear reporters talk about it. Did they let you watch news networks while it was happening? If not, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you were NOT portrayed in a positive light. I suppose, in light of the discoveries made when they dug up your yard, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But I admit, the lengths reporters went to try and make you look like some sort of monster verged on ludicrous to anyone who knew you the way we did.

I mean, come on! Admittedly the footage from your basement made my stomach turn the first time I saw it (especially when I remembered my Donald loaning you his tools so you could remodel it three years ago!) but that was just one side of you. One small part of your life the media chose to fixate on, it hardly seems fair. They never mentioned, to name just one example, how delicious the brownies you brought to the school bake sale were, or how you brought them without fail every year even though you had no children of your own in the school system to benefit from their sale. Were they interested in that sort of thing? Of course not, all the media’s interested in nowadays is sensationalism, it seems. It’s all in the name of ratings.

By the way, those brownies were sorely missed at this year’s sale. I was the only one who was willing to say it out loud, but you could tell everyone was thinking it.

Another reason your absence is so acutely felt is the state of disrepair your former home has fallen into. It honestly is shocking how the police left the place, you’d be scandalized if you saw it, and rightly so. The bank’s since took it over, of course, and they haven’t had luck to date finding an interested buyer, but that’s no excuse for their not filling the holes in your yard back in, or their shameful neglect of your rose garden. It’s as though they weren’t even TRYING to keep the place up, like they’d just written the place off as a loss rather than attempting to put it back into a presentable shape!

It’s disrespectful to the neighborhood, is what It is, and I’ll let you know I’ve written several pointed missives to the bank to that effect. No response as of yet, but if they think I’ll be put off so easily they don’t know me at all! One thing is certain, none of this would ever have been an issue if you were still living there, the pains you went to to keep your home beautiful are another reason that, bloodstained sewer grate in your basement or not, I respected you so well.

In fact, I think it could be safely said that your presence is dearly missed, back here in Silver Springs. I mean obviously your crimes were horrific, assuming you actually did the terrible things they accused you of, but still. If you were guilty, you always kept that side of yourself out of the neighborhood, and within our community you were the perfect neighbor, a fact we all appreciate. I suppose I’m getting a little rambling with this note, but I’m really not sure what to say in a letter like this, obviously I’ve never known anyone in your particular situation before. I hope I haven’t said anything unintentionally to put you out. I’m sure I haven’t. I’m not even sure why I wrote you, I’m sure you’re very busy in your new situation and don’t have time for people you knew in what by now must seem like a previous life.

I guess I just wanted to write to say that, although the world looks at you and sees only the seventeen corpses found in and buried behind your home, to me you’ll always be the quiet, polite neighbor who generally kept to himself but always had a ready smile when he saw me in the street. You were a real asset to the neighborhood, Marcus, don’t you ever think otherwise. And we’re all better off for having known you, though it’s grown unfashionable to admit it. And for this I thank you, even if no one else will.

I hope this letter finds you well and that you’re keeping in good spirits, to whatever degree you can during your incarceration.

Sincerely yours

Amanda Henderson
The Silver Springs Neighborhood Association
320 Slivergrove Bay, NW
Calgary, Alberta

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Prompt Story: Coffee

By Christopher Munroe

I’ve had three cups today, and I’ll hit Starbucks on the way to work.

Latte, I think. Venti.

There’ll be a pot waiting when I arrive, and when it’s gone I’ll honestly try to remember to start a fresh one. It’s inconsiderate to drink it all without replacing it for my coworkers.

It’s just hard to remember things sometimes. Gets harder every day.

I hate the taste of coffee, it’s like hot tar in my mouth. But I’ll choke back as much as I can.

Because they come when I sleep, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.