20 Things You Absolutely Have To Do In Your Twenties

  1. Breathe fire
  2. Eat a cupcake in reverse (as in, it starts in your stomach, digesting, and ends in your hand, full).
  3. Put on 70 pairs of sneakers
  4. Go to a loved one and say “hello”
  5. Eat several gerbils
  6. Wrestle an infant
  7. Eat a sandwich made of other, older sandwiches
  8. Drink an alcoholic beverage distilled from your enemies’ blood
  9. Shave your underarm hair and glue it to your forehead
  10. Punch a security guard
  11. Ice skate on a pool of frozen mayonnaise
  12. Enter your brother into a cockfighting match
  13. Answer every phone call with “this is she” over and over again, no matter what the person on the other line says
  14. Drive a close friend to insanity by insisting they don’t exist
  15. Go back in time and shoot yourself in the leg. Grandfather paradox, baby!
  16. Eat your college diploma(s) with salt and slices of american cheese
  17. Have several children, name them all Pennywhistle
  18. Legally change everyone in your town’s name to Cherry Bojangles
  19. Change your town’s name to Cherry Bojangles
  20. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

The Night Bulletin is coming…

The Night bulletin - podcast artwork - 2

There are a lot of podcasts out there. Like a lot. I listen to a handful of them. Some of my favorite podcasts include The Last Podcast on the Left, You Must Remember This, Improvised Star Trek, Starship Sofa, Pseudopod, The No Sleep Podcast, Welcome to Nightvale, and Knifepoint Horror. I listen to about 30 more, but you get the idea. These podcasts vary in content, tone, and production quality, but out of all of these podcasts, the very last on the list,  Knifepoint Horror, is the one I am attempting to emulate.

For those not in the know, Knifepoint Horror is a podcast written and largely narrated by Soren Narnia. Each episode is a self-contained short horror story. All of the stories take the form of a confessional and all are very scary. The stripped down writing style and tone give the impression that a man is matter-of-factly recording his final experiences before a beast comes out of the dark and swallows him whole. I would highly recommend the stories “corpse”, “house”, and “circles.”

The Night Bulletin will be a podcast where I will narrate my own short stories. Simple as that. My brother, Daniyal, will be providing the music. The stories will range from horror to fantasy to science fiction, but all will contain an element of something weird or horrific.

Why horror?

I have always loved horror in all of its forms, and there are few things better than a spooky story, podcast, or film that really hits you in the right way. Also, the popularity of podcasts as a format and the explosion of amateur horror stories puts me in fine company.

All of the stories on The Night Bulletin will be largely self-contained and unrelated. Perhaps I will hit my stride and a theme will take over, but for now, I am simply going to release what I can.

Stay tuned for an announcement in a month or so detailing the first episode release, where to listen, and (hopefully) a website and social media presence. I’m excited for what’s to come.

The Night Bulletin is coming…


A New Project Coming Down the Pipeline


I am working on an exciting project. This website was originally meant to be a place where I posted short stories and poems (the poems you can still read here). I have oscillated between posting my short stories online for free and trying to submit them to magazines. Neither of these options gave me satisfaction. I have since decided to merge two passions of mine into one: I will be printing and hand-binding little booklets of my short stories.

This project has rattled around my brain for a bit, and I have at last created an action plan. Pictured above are two of my stories, “Strange Men in Bowler Hats” and “An Evening With A Close Friend” printed and bound by yours truly. I will be making several copies of these two stories to hand out to friends and family, where they will be read and passed along to others who may be interested.

But this booklet-as-business-card project doesn’t end there. Each of these stories will also be available to purchase as ebooks on the Amazon Kindle Store.

If you do not own a Kindle, you can still purchase the stories and read them on the Kindle smartphone app, available for both iPhone & Android.

Be on the lookout for a mid-August release date!

Blowing Dust Off My Laptop

It’s been five months since I’ve last posted here. In that time, I’ve made progress on a few short stories, have had two rejections for completed work (one from a twitfic magazine and one from Apex Magazine). These rejections didn’t hurt, even if I was hoping for acceptances. The fact that I got rejections means that I actually submitted something. The more I do it, the easier it will get.

I’ve been toying with an idea to marry two of my hobbies together. I’ve always been interested in bookbinding and crafts of that sort. I’ve watched plenty of good videos on how to bind books (such as this one) and I even hand-bound my architecture portfolio back when I was a sophomore in college. This interest has led to an interesting idea. I’ve decided that I want to print my short stories as chapbooks and use them as promotional materials. I think it’s unique enough that someone will want to read them, and the project is easy enough that I can do it using my home printer and some supplies I’ve bought online. I already attempted one such chapbook with mixed results. I’ll hopefully be making a full blog post about that project as soon as I can. Right now, I want to focus on getting this one right.

Stay tuned for that and more info regarding my many, many story rejections to come.


Books That I Read in 2017

Truth be told, I listened to most of these books as audiobooks. I will put an asterisk (*) after all the books I actually read (either print or ebook).

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
Minority Report – Philip K Dick
The Theory of Everything – Stephen Hawking
Great North Road – Peter F Hamilton*
A Darker Shade of Magic – Shades of Magic I – VE Schwab
The Crystal Shard – Icewind Dale Trilogy I – RA Salvatore*
14 – Peter Clines*
From a Buick 8 – Stephen King
The Last Witness – KJ Parker*
The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson*
Streams of Silver – Icewind Dale Trilogy II – RA Salvatore*
A Gathering of Shadows – Sahdes of Magic II – VE Schwab*
The Collected Stories of Lewis Shiner
The Halfling’s Gem – Icewind Dale Trilogy III – RA Salvatore*
The Blood Mirror – Lightbringer IV – Brent Weeks*
Empire Falls – Richard Russo*
The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker
The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa*
The House of Silk – Sherlock Holmes I – Anthony Horowitz
A Wizard of Earthsea – Earthsea Cycle I – Ursula K Le Guin
The Rolling Stones – Robert A Heinlein
The Three-Body Problem – Rememberence of Earth’s Past I – Liu Cixin
Ablutions – Patrick deWitt*
The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
The Mirror Crack’d Side to Side – Miss Marple 9 – Agatha Christie
Moon Breaker – Matthew Marchitto*
The Hunger – Charles Beaumont
Carbide Tipped Pens – Ben Bova, Editor
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan*
The Secret of Shadow Ranch – Nancy Drew 5 – Carolyn Keene
Into the Nanten – Jay Swanson
The Tombs of Atuan – Earthsea Cycle II – Ursula K Le Guin
The Secret of Red Gate Farm – Nancy Drew 6 – Carolyn Keene
Assassin’s Apprentice – Farseer Trilogy I – Robin Hobb
The Clue in the Diary – Nancy Drew 7 – Carolyn Keene*
The Scions of Shannara – Heritage of Shannara I – Terry Brooks*
Pawn of Prophecy – The Belgariad I – David Eddings
Queen of Sorcery – The Belgariad II – David Eddings
Magician’s Gambit – The Belgariad III – David Eddings
Practical Demonkeeping – Christopher Moore
Batman-The Killing Joke – Alan Moore*
The Druid of Shannara – Heritage of Shannara II – Terry Brooks*
Castle of Wizardry – The Belgariad IV – David Eddings
Seven Keys to Baldpate – Earl Derr Biggers*
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami*
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove – Christopher Moore
Redshirts – John Scalzi*
The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
The Stupidest Angel – Christopher Moore
Harry Lipkin, Private Eye – Barry Fantoni
A Burglar’s Guide to the City – Geoff Manaugh
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
Unruly Places – Alastair Bonnett*
The Hidden Staircase – Nancy Drew 2 – Carolyn Keene
A Conjuring of Light – Shades of Magic III – VE Schwab*
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness*
The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell*
The Bungalow Mystery – Nancy Drew 3 – Carolyn Keene
The Elf Queen of Shannara – Heritage of Shannara III – Terry Brooks*
Then We Came To The End – Joshua Ferris*
A Man Without A Country – Kurt Vonnegut*
Nancy’s Mysterious Letter – Nancy Drew 8 – Carolyn Keene
Maplecroft – The Borden Dispatches I – Cherie Priest
The Fisherman – John Langan
The Terror – Dan Simmons
Tales of Sand – Jim Henson*
The Talismans of Shannara – Heritage of Shannara IV – Terry Brooks*
The First King of Shannara – Prequel – Terry Brooks
The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel
The Cleric Quintet – RA Salvatore*
Ilse Witch – Terry Brooks*
Borne – Jeff Vandermeer*
A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami*
Solar Express – L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Inhuman Condition – Clive Barker
Half-Minute Horrors – Susan Rich*
The Lost Gate – Mither Mages I – Orson Scott Card
The Gate Thief – Mither Mages II – Orson Scott Card
The Weird – Edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer*
Gatefather – Mither Mages III – Orson Scott Card
Other Worlds Than These – Edited by John Joseph Adams*
A Good Fall – Ha Jin
What If – Randall Munroe
The Family Plot – Cherie Priest*
Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones*
Matilda – Roald Dahl
Gwendy’s Button Box – Stephen King and Richard Chizmar*
The View From The Cheap Seats – Neil Gaiman*
The Elementals – Michael McDowell
The Legacy – The Legacy of the Drow I – RA Salvatore*
The 13 Clocks – James Thurber*
The Book of Speculation – Erika Swyler
The Secret of the Old Clock – Nancy Drew 1 – Carolyn Keene*
Maphead – Ken Jennings*
The Poisoner’s Handbook – Deborah Blum*
The Sculptor – Scott McCloud*
X-O Manowar Vol. 1 – By the Sword*
X-O Manowar Vol. 2 – Enter Ninjak*
Starless Night – The Legacy of the Drow II – RA Salvatore*
The Paper Menagerie & Other Stories – Ken Liu*
X-O Manowar Vol. 3 – Planet Death*
Uncommon Grounds – Mark Pendergrast*
A Pocket Full of Rye – Agatha Christie
The Grace of Kings – The Dandelion Dynasty I – Ken Liu*
Nothing to Envy – Barbara Demick*
Signal To Noise – Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
Abandon the Old in Tokyo – Yoshihiro Tatsumi*
Diary of a A Mad Old Man – Junichiro Tanizaki*
Everything I Need To Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone G€“ Mark Dawidziak*
Christine – Stephen King
The Haunted – Bentley Little
The Dark Forest – Remembrance of Earth’s Past II – Cixin Liu
Binti – Nnedi Okorafor*
Royal Assassin – Realm of Elderlings II – Robin Hobb*
On Turpentine Lane – Elinor Lipman*
It Devours – Joseph Fink
Binti Home – Nnedi Okorafor*
See You in Paradise – J Robert Lennon
A Case of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammed Hanif*
Judge Dredd Volume 1*
Dracula vs. Hitler – Patrick Sheane Duncan
Paperbacks from Hell – Grady Hendrix*
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Lovecraft Country – Matt Ruff
Sourdough – Robin Sloan
Tales of the Left Hand – Book One – John Meagher
Wind Pinball – Haruki Murakami
Tales of the Left Hand – Book Two – John Meagher

This makes 131 books/comics/novellas. This is a new record for me, though I am still unsure if this is impressive or kinda sad. Either way, I see this number going down for 2018 for two reasons. One, I find myself listening to podcasts more than audiobooks lately, and two, I plan on getting some of my own stories recorded as audio, leaving less time for books. No matter; I feel like I am a well-read individual regardless, even if I read only ten books this year.

Facebook + Instagram

In my first post from a month ago, I mentioned my rare use of social media. This has not changed as a whole, but a few minor details have changed. I have since signed up for Instagram at the behest of my fiance. I have only a few posts and a handful of followers, but it’s a platform that’s easy to use and fun to mess with. On the other hand, I have deactivated (not deleted) my personal Facebook account. I rarely use it. When I did use it, I would read depressing news about the state of our country and check my empty event invitations. The only recurring events I attend are two book clubs, and those use Meetup.com in order to announce events. I get email reminders from them as well.

This is perhaps a very long-winded way to say that I have no real use of Facebook. I’ve deactivated it in the past and have always returned. This may be the case this time around, or I may be gone for good. However, I am at a place in my life where I must remove as many distractions and redundancies from my life as possible. If I want to accomplish my primary goals (writing good stories, paying off my student loans, and losing weight all while staying up to date on my day job), I have to make things simpler. Easier said than done.

In any event, be sure to follow me on Instagram. It’ll be worth your while.


Introduction to me

Hello. My name is TF Ahmad and I am a writer. I have been a writer ever since I was a child, but have only recently decided to take it seriously. I have a day job in an office and spend my down time writing short stories, my favorite form of fiction.

This website has transformed over this past year from an aggregation of all of my stories and poems to what it is now: a place to express thoughts on fiction, poetry, writing, and assorted other topics. I have since deleted all of my short stories from this website, as I am now editing and formatting them so I can start collecting rejection slips.

I have begun to figure out what sort of writer I want to be, and find myself gravitating towards horror, science fiction (of the soft kind), and fantasy. I have written a couple of literary short stories, but they do not make up an appreciable percentage of my work. I am primarily a short story writer, though I do have ideas/outlines/several pages of novels written. I see my short stories not only as “writing practice” but as complete stories that are meant to be read and appreciated.

The common wisdom from the old guard (and by old guard, I mean most authors I read) is that one must write short stories, submit them to paying markets, have them rejected multiple times, have them eventually accepted, build up publishing credits, then use these credits in the cover letter/pitch of  your novel manuscript to agents and publishers. This sounds like a great way to build up a reputation and ensure your best work is being represented. It is also an extremely difficult and arduous path to take.

With electronic publishing and ease of access, writers can now build up an audience online before being picked up by publishers. This is a great approach as well, but one that does not really suit me. I am not active on social media (I have no Twitter account, no Reddit account, no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Pinterest, and I rarely post to my personal Facebook account), thus any writing I do online (this blog post included) has a limited range on the world wide web.

I have always been a fan of print publications and audio publications (my appreciation of which will be put on a future blog post), and I will see my future publication in these avenues as a true personal accomplishment. Right now, all I can do is focus on writing good sentences, and turning those good sentences into good stories.