Back in September, I released a literary collection called Windows, which collected fourteen short stories, eight previously published and six new ones. It was released in paperback format only, partly because most of the stories were already available as e-books and partly because I’m old school when it comes to reading books–paper in my hand only, please; I will sometimes read short stories and essays on the computer, but I’ve never read a novel that wasn’t a paperback or hardcover. At the time of Windows‘ release, I said that I would probably eventually release some of the new stories as standalone tales (in case readers weren’t interested in springing for a whole anthology, or they already had copies of earlier stories). The first of these standalone releases is available now: Prayers for Miriam.

miriam

Prayers for Miriam came about in an unusual (but not unique) way: I thought up a premise–a child with a vivid imagination dreams up a small world populated by make-believe people in the woods behind her house, then wishes they were real, and it comes true–and nothing else. I took that small idea and just let inspiration and stream-of-consciousness take over. It wasn’t the first time I embarked on an act of storytelling without pre-planned consideration; Meet Me at Street Level had the same freewheeling origins, and Down Ravensclaw Hill was a nearly exact recreation of an unusually evocative dream I had. But like Street Level, Prayers for Miriam proves that my train of thought can be perversely twisted sometimes–this story takes a few very strange and very hard turns. (I feel like I need to emphasize this, as I recognize that the title and perhaps even the imagery of the cover may make it seem like a Christian paean fit for consumption by people who don’t steer clear of anything labeled with the words “faith-based”…it is not.)

I won’t tell you what you can expect–you know the premise, why spoil the journey?–but if the setup seems intriguing to you, why not give it a try? If you don’t have the hard copy version in Windows, you can buy an e-book copy on Amazon here.

I’ll leave you with a quick update on what I’ve been up to and what’s on the horizon. I’ve been busy writing a new novel, this one mixing up ingredients of chase story, wilderness adventure, post-apocalyptic thriller, and more. I will also be taking a short break from that major venture to pen another short story, and possibly another break after that for a fourth Hopeless Harry story. Can’t confirm any sort of release schedule (I’m even looking into different avenues of publication in an effort to reach a wider audience), but I’ll post any firm updates if and when they arise. Until then, thanks again for all of your patronage and support, and remember to always find the time to soak in the waters of your own founts of creativity.

 

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Feliz Navidad, folks. And with that holiday literally a couple hours away for me (the fam celebrates on Xmas Eve because it’s the only way to do it proper, of course), time to give all of you a little treat instead of a trick. Crap, wrong holiday. Too much green beer?

E-book versions of several of my books and short stories will be available for free starting tomorrow (12/24) through Tuesday (12/26). Head on over to my Amazon author page to find out which ones and take advantage while you can! After all, what better way is there to evade uncomfortable conversations with distant relatives than by having your nose constantly buried in your Kindle/phone/iPad/Etch-a-Sketch/whatever-else-the-millennials-are-digi-obsessed-with-these-days?

I’d wrap things up with a farewell to the year, but frankly, this year has sucked big time for myself and just about everyone I know and I just want it over with. Good riddance, 2017! And see you all in the (oh, so hopefully better) 2018!

As stated last time, it wasn’t going to be long before my next update. So here it is: hot on the heels of Eros, Inc., I am releasing another book, this one a compilation of fourteen novellas/short stories. Eight of them have been previously published as e-books, six of them have not, but all of them are now seeing the light of day in physical format (my preferred format by no short measure) for the first time.

As one would expect from my earlier releases, genre lines blur easily, but all are at least tangentially related to sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror. As such, I did not include anything that stood apart from this wide berth (such as the purely comedic Vengeance Most Vengeful), and left off all of the Hopeless Harry tales–I may one day pen a couple more of those to compile them into a separate collection, not sure yet.

Titled Windows, brief synopses for each tale are below to give you an idea of what these stories, old and new, entail–asterisks indicate the ones that weren’t previously published in digital formats. But if you’ve sampled past “shorties,” you probably already have a good idea.

windowsfront

Hail, Stavros!
A man washes up on the shore of an enigmatic island nation ruled by a bloodthirsty overseer that no one on the island has ever even seen before.

Meet Me at Street Level
When an instant romantic connection is abruptly severed, a young man goes to great lengths to forge a reunion, lengths that gets him inadvertently mixed up in some rather sinister business.

Down Ravensclaw Hill
When the youngest member of the family seemingly goes missing, three brothers ignore the grim folklore and warnings from the locals and go up to the cabin at the top of Ravensclaw Hill to look for him.

Relax, Ronnie, You’re Just Stoned*
Why won’t anyone believe a shiftless pothead’s ravings about how his small town has been infiltrated by aliens? He should probably just relax.

Prophets of Condemnation*
A wayward space pilot needs help getting off a desolate planet, but first she needs to convince two callous clairvoyants that refuse to help her without a fatal favor first.

Story for the Sackman*
A desperate peasant girl tells an illicit marketeer the story of how she came into possession of the kingdom’s royal crown.

Prayers for Miriam*
A little girl wishes that her imaginary friends in the woods would become real, little counting on the consequences such a miracle could lead to.

Scare Me
When the most popular girls in school suddenly want to make nice with the class outcast, the shunned “scab” decides it would be good fun to play a game with them during a sleepover.

Seth & P.H.I.L.
A nervous government man is tasked with interviewing an amazing discovery–an alien being that has come to Earth. But it seems that the inscrutable guest has plenty of questions of its own for the interviewer.

Nuestro delicioso salvador de gatos*
Nasty rat fiends discover cheesy contraband in the bunkhouse of worker mice and demand to know where it came from.

Of Buzzscrews, for Honeydoos, We Strive for Metaaras!
The steward of a generation ship begins to question the nature of their journey across space, and the reason why humankind even abandoned Earth at all so long ago.

No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks*
An oversexed high school teacher loves the attention she gets from students and faculty, until she comes across a message left for her that takes matters far beyond harmless fantasies.

Do You Believe in Monsters
Young Donny lives at constant unease, haunted by the fears of his belief in monsters. Do you believe in them, too?

Silver Storm Is on at Eight
A regular Joe learns an astounding secret about his existence, and he only becomes more puzzled when he begins to think his life is somehow connected to the most popular broadcast program in the country.

Buy on Amazon

Note: This compilation is being released only as a paperback. Sometime down the line, I will publish some of the new stories individually as e-books (mainly for those who prefer reading from a screen over paper, or for anyone who has already read some or all of the other stories and don’t want to “re-buy” them; perfectly understandable). Any that I may choose to never publish will eventually be placed on this blog for download.

I don’t have much else to report, especially about what’s next. Having been quite busy most of the year getting all of these short stories and the last two novels together has been a lot of work, so I’ll probably take at least a few weeks to decompress before tackling the next project. I have a few ideas in the pipeline already–not counting one that I had to abruptly cancel (I’ll explain that one another day)–but I haven’t settled on one quite yet. Until next time, adieu!

Been feeling a bit under the weather last couple days, so this post is a little delayed (and I’ll be keeping it brief). So without further ado, presenting my latest novel, Eros, Inc.

erosinccover

This was originally a short story idea that expanded while writing it. It started as just a “lark,” especially since it’s very much unlike anything I’ve written before (and perhaps ever after). But as I got into it, I started fleshing out the characters and scenarios and found that I enjoyed spending time in their company enough to beef up their trials and tribulations. Although some headier themes do emerge later in the story, it’s mostly just a light, little confection of humor, fantasy and romance.

True love doesn’t happen every day, as some dread pirate once agreed, but that’s not for lack of trying! We at Eros, Inc. strive and strain every day to forge the connections that cause love to blossom the world over. Don’t look us up in the Yellow Pages, though—we only operate behind-the-scenes, unseen and unknown, agents that serve on Earth after our time on that planet has passed. We just happily give a little back for the goodwill of humanity (and a little profit-sharing, too). The fact that I, myself, have been dead for quite a few decades should explain why I just mentioned the Yellow Pages. Do I need to explain that one to the kiddies out there? You see, once there was—ah, forget it, no time for that.

Don’t expect us Eros, Inc. agents to be fluttering on little wings and slinging arrows into unsuspecting keisters, though. No, no, it’s a little more complicated than that. Sometimes it gets really complicated, in fact. Like this one pairing I was supposed to match up: Beckett Howe and Moira O’Hara. The ethereal big wigs at ol’ Eros, Inc. thought those two would make a terrific couple. I just needed to get them together, that’s all. And being the good employee that I am, that is exactly what I set out to do. But…not everything works out how one hopes or expects. I certainly never expected that these two would irrevocably change my life—er, afterlife—but they did. Oh, they sure did.

Available on Amazon:
Paperback
E-book

As stated before, I’m keeping it brief, so if this enjoyable little story seems to be to your liking, I hope you’ll take the time to check it out and enjoy it. Rest assured, though, I’m not going to be disappearing for another few months now. In fact, I’ll be back quite soon with an unexpected (and, to the best of my recollection, previously unannounced) treat; for those who are like me and much prefer hard copy reading over the digital variety, anyway. Talk to you then.

Ugh, the heat, amirite? If you don’t have yourself a pool (and I surely do not have one), it’s just…I mean, come on! What an ass. Faren-bite me.

A good way to beat the heat is to avoid it altogether, thanks to the magical and mysterious force called “air conditioning” (which I believe is derived from Latin for oh that is refreshing) And while enjoying the sweet, satisfying relief of air conditioning, what better way to pass the time than to do a little reading? So glad you agree.

Knowing this, it seems a little unfair not to reward and incentivize such recreational proclivities. Therefore, I present my big summer sale–almost every story I’ve ever published will be either available on sale or for free on Amazon (e-book versions). Most will be affected as of midnight tonight (Friday AM), while others will kick in the following midnight (Saturday AM), and all sales will last through the close of the 4th of July. Forget barbecues and fireworks–Independence Day is best celebrated curled up with a good read (heck, in one of them, the climax occurs on the 4th of July).

So head on over to my Amazon Author Page to find all the great deals and load up one cheap/gratis goodies that will surely leave you satisfied (surely not a legal guarantee–don’t sue). Not even a bottle rocket can give you this much bang for your buck!

…I, uh…I’ll show myself out now, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day to all the proud pop’s out there. This quick update has nothing to do with dads, though; it’s mostly about televised lone heroes and the audience they enrapture. Notably, the fictional broadcast program, Silver Storm, which matters a great deal to a fella named Joe, though not necessarily in the ways he expected. Yes, it’s time to announce the recently released short story, Silver Storm Is on at Eight.

silverstorm

Like the rest of the nation, Joe is obsessed with the smash-hit broadcast program, Silver Storm. Its lone hero wanders the post-apocalypse armed only with cunning, determination, and a magnablaster. Each episode goes beyond exciting, straight to riveting. But while the weekly high point of a new Silver Storm is a reliable, thrilling constant, the rest of Joe’s life begins showing signs of disarray, with a lonely, young woman drawing him into her tumultuous life and a strange man leaving bizarre questions on his door knob. Soon, a startling revelation about Joe’s existence turns his whole world upside down and even that comforting constant called Silver Storm is beginning to betray him, blurring the line between his reality and the show’s fantasy.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, I suggest you check it out (link below) and hope it’s an engaging read for you. Next up, as previously mentioned, I’m editing down the novel I had written during downtime earlier this year. More details on that later (also later, a summer sale, so stay tuned), but it’s pretty far outside of my comfort zone, being a comic-romance with elements of fantasy and tragedy; inspiration and conceptualization struck, though, and I followed its bewitching whim.

After that, well, I’m not 100% sure. I’ve been planning on collecting a good number of short stories and novellas and packaging them in a single hard copy volume (stories both previously published and never-before-published), so I may do that. I may also squeeze out a new Hopeless Harry tale, or dive into my next novel, which will be a futuristic/dystopian action thriller, but not much like the Blood-Dimmed Tide series at all. But that’s for another day, and I really gotta focus on the dull stuff (editing) before getting back to the fun stuff (creating). So, go give your old man a hug, and thanks for stopping by!

Silver Storm Is on at Eight e-book

I know I’ve delayed the release of those two other stories (the novella and the novel) that I had finished first drafts on back before the release of Counterrevolution, but writing–and especially the dreadful task of editing–has been far from my mind in recent weeks. I’ll get back to that old business (and new business) soon enough.

Instead, briefly, I’m going to pay quick tribute to the little bunny rabbit that came into my life just shy of five years ago and gave me so much joy during that time. Due to multiple medical issues causing greatly-reduced quality of life, I arrived at the hard decision of euthanasia for her, and she was put to rest this morning. Many tears were shed, mostly in devastation, but also some of fondness, as the memories of her and all the funny, sweet, adorable things she did will survive for a very long time.

Her name was Domino, and she was loved tremendously, and she gave that love right back. I’ll miss you, baby bun.

It’s actually been available for more than a week now, but I was doing some dogsitting recently, so apologies for the delayed notice. Anyway, hot on the heels of Counterrevolution comes the short story/novella, Hail, Stavros!

stavroscover

A stranger in a strange land, Martin Birdsong finds himself on the unusual island nation of Erequoix as a guest in the opulent home of its mysterious overseer, Stavros. More name than figure, more legend than man, Stavros’ island rule demands obedience to the sovereign’s mandates; stray, and the consequences are dire. Yet Martin discovers that hardly anyone on the island knows much at all about this enigmatic autocrat, even as people begin to disappear without a trace. Soon, Martin learns that getting off the island alive may not be in Stavros’ design…or even permitted at all.

So, like most of my stories, it blurs genre lines a bit, this one being something of a mystery thriller with a touch of fantasy (in that it takes place in a made-up location in a world only vaguely reflective of the real one). Puzzling paranoia, examination of the illusion of power, a surprise or two; yep, it should be good, unwholesome fun. If it piques your interest, check it out, won’t you?

Next, I’ll be continuing editing/polishing the other short story/novella I have, along with the full-length. Not sure about the timeline, but I’ll announce something when I know more. Arrivederci!

As mentioned in the last post, the editing process for my recently released novel, Counterrevolution, was something of a grueling affair—not because of the story length (each volume in the Blood-Dimmed Tide series was longer, in fact, sometimes considerably so), but because of the difficulty in arranging everything and adding and removing bits as needed. The story doesn’t always follow a linear path; chronologically, at least, though logically, it’s less messy. Strange how you need to drop the “chrono” to arrive at the clearer truth in a story focused on time. I’ve always relished irony, though.

Because of the extra time needed to sort it all out and construct the final product (as well as the sporadic desire to “clear out the creativity cobwebs”), I toyed with other things during downtime spells. Notably, the kernels of a few other stories. Each one started out as planned short stories, but as I freely admit, I gravitate toward the embellished-if-longwinded tactic over the succinctly economical style. And because my “larks” sometimes become engorged by added details, complexities, and narrative developments, they didn’t necessarily remain for long in the short story aisle.

While length definitions are shaky (and agreed upon by virtually no one), I think it’s safe to say that of the three I was tinkering with, one remained in short story territory, one developed into a novella, and one blossomed into a full (if somewhat brisk) novel. Some would define both of the shorter ones to be full novellas, though. Again—who can agree on classifications? However you want to describe it, though, I’ve finished three more stories that will be released soon enough.

(Finished, that is, except for where I still need to go over each with a fine-tooth comb to refine, revise, etc. as needed first)

I’ll provide more details as they approach/reach their releases, but for now, a quick glance:

One is about a man addicted to a popular television show that learns some startling truths about both the program and his own existence. Another is about someone who washes up on a mysterious island run by an unseen, unknown tyrant willing to eliminate anyone that displeases him. The last one is about an otherworldly corporation staffed by souls of the deceased who continue to serve in the world of the living as matchmakers to lonely hearts.

Lest you think I’m spent on ideas, rest assured, I have at least four other projects in early phases, and several more as conceptual sketches. I intend to keep busy, and I hope you’ll follow along. Rest assured, however, that I’ll make sure to shape these three up before I dive into the next subject.

…unless, screw it, twelve-part epic about centaur wizards on Neptune! Yippee!

I am not oblivious to the fact that time traveling stories have been done to death. Nevertheless, when I set out on my latest full-length story, it hadn’t yet been redone to death—now, it has come to my attention that pretty much every other television show airing right now has time travel as a major plot component. So, unless there’s still a legitimate (and apparently unquenchable) frenzy of interest instead of a market oversaturation, I’m guessing that my timing is almost as bad as a broken pocketwatch. Because my latest release deals largely with, you guessed it, time travel.

counterrevfront

Yep, it’s finally here: Counterrevolution, a story of paradoxes, predestination, timelines, and trouble (with or without a capital T, River City!). Driven as much by character discussion as character action, the novel’s fragmented narrative is scattered over several periods of time (primarily the recent past and not-too-distant future); largely focused on a lone traveler, a lone hunter, and the inventor of the machine; revealing information and surprises piece by piece until it all comes together. Except for one thing—the holes, both small and large, that I intentionally left in there to exercise the reader’s noodle. It’s the kind of story that (I hope) inspires reflection, argument, even frustration. I’d rather encourage vitriol than ennui, after all. Still, I’d prefer it to be enjoyed at least a little, so…fingers crossed!

As is the case with most of my work that’s tangential to the science fiction genre, Counterrevolution exploits the divide between the chilly elegance of the logical and schematic and the turbulent warmth of the personal and emotional. The narrative fracturing was critical to this development, as it keeps one at arm’s length as the pieces are laid out before they can start snapping together; mystery and ambivalence prevail. But there are always cracks to the affectless veneer, motivation and sentiment emerges, and it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Of course, this also presented a considerable challenge; while arranging the jigsaw, I, of course, knew everything that was happening, but I was never fully certain if a reader coming in cold would be able to easily follow along and figure things out—I may have sometimes been too cryptic, while other times I may have hammered it in too hard to make sure connections aren’t missed. As for how well I succeeded or failed in making things clear enough when needed and not too obvious when subtlety would have worked better, I leave that to the reader.

So basically, if you like your stories linear and wrapped up tidily at the end, this may not be for you. But if you favor more challenging and occasionally impenetrable tales of fraught conviction and the miseries of obsession and loss, perhaps it’s worth your time. Whichever it might be, thanks for the consideration!

Available here in paperback and e-book versions.

Two quick post-scripts…first, for no practical reason whatsoever, I paid tribute to the band Poster Children with this book by naming minor characters after the band members’ last names, and even giving a company the title of Daisychain Tool, an amalgam of their albums Daisychain Reaction and Tool of the Man. Why exactly? Like I said, no practical reason—probably just because I happened to have been listening to their records during a phase of the writing. That, and blackmail, of course.

Second, if this book doesn’t sound terribly appealing, the silver lining, I suppose, is that in the course of the taxing edit sessions, I managed to write a short story, a novella, and another full-length novel. So rest assured that more is on its way soon enough; update to come in a few days.