All The King’s Ploughs

As it’s NaNoWriMo time again, I thought I would share something from the piece I’m working on.  This is a bit of an odd one, as what follows will most likely not make into the final product.  What started out as a lighthearted idea, quickly became something a bit darker, more twisted. It seems no matter how much I try, the horrific elements seem to follow me.

Also of note is none of the following has been edited. This is as crude as a draft can be.  I post it because even though I may not use it, I like the scene quite a bit, and thought it made a good opening.

In the Sewers

 

Kharisi skewered the sewer rat with the tip of his iron sword. He watched with more than a little delight as the vermin wriggled, even as its little rat guts clung to the weapon. Kharisi turned and shook it at his dwarven companion. “Didn’t you mention lunch but a moment ago?’

Slate Fistcrunch glared at his companion, and stroked at a long, luxurious beard that was no longer there. Realizing his old habit, he let out a fart in Kharisi’s direction.

“The most sense you’ve made all day Slate.” Kharisi said with a small edge in his voice. He lowered the sword, and with one foot pushed the dead animal off his sword, and stepped on its head, grinding bone and brain beneath his boot. He walked a few paces ahead of his companion, the sound of dripping water echoing off of moss covered walls. “Well dwarf, which way?” Kharisi didn’t look behind him, but could hear the stocky Slate catching up to him.

Slate stood by the elf’s side and looked around. He held out the burning torch in front of him and squinted. They were at a three way intersection and he immediately dismissed the path in front of them as it was barred by an iron grate. To the left was a nothing but a dark shaft, and to the right, he could sense a slight wind and with it the smell of offal. “This way,” he said.

“Lead the way,” Kharisi said, motioning the dwarf to move ahead of him. AS they started to move to the rightward tunnel, Slate stopped, held up a hand, and drew his axe.

“What is it?” Kharisi asked, and the sound of multiple legs scurrying up behind them answered his question. Kharisi laid a hand on the hilt of his sword and he could feel the hairs from the enormous spider brush the back of his neck. He held his breath, his grip tightening on the sword, as the spider started to raise itself up to strike. Kharisi turned, his motion a blur, sword out and plunging into the largest of the six eyes. The spider let out something like a scream which chilled Kharisi to the marrow. It backed away, blood and gore dripping from the wound. Slate not wanting to miss out on the fun, took a short leap and plunged the fire end of the torch in the ruined orbit.

The now flaming spider moved back even further, hissing and spitting phlegm-like wads of venom that sizzled as they hit the damp floor of the sewers. “Kill it you damned useless dwarf!”

Slate grunted, and muttered curses under his breath. He dislodged the torch which managed to remain lit, and replaced it with his axe, chopping away at the spider, avoiding the venom, and still managing to get his by gouts of blood. Not for the first time he cursed the Bards for making the slaughtering of beasts sound so easy. One quick thrust my ass, he thought. As he hacked away He saw Kharisi move swift as the wind to the backside of the spider and climbing on its back, he shoved his sword into its head.  It gave one final squall and slumped, dead as can be.

Kharisi sheathed his sword, jumped down from the corpse and looked down at the dwarf. “All that hack and mucking about wastes too much energy. A deftly placed sword works every time. Ask the Bards.”

Slate grumbled something impolite and put his axe away. He pushed Kharisi out of the way and stormed ahead. As he set off to follow the dwarf, he noticed something glimmer in the muck, and bent down to pick it up-pocketing it before Slate could see.

He smiled and continued on.

 

“How much more of this place is there?” Slate asked. Kharisi gave a small shrug. “After the Arnisian War decimated the country King Saerus’ grandfather ordered these to be built for any emergency or need to escape. They’ve been built upon since, and seeing as how peace reigns-however fleeting-our good King has seen fit to make it a sewer, fit only for vermin and shit.”

Slate looked up at Kharisi, studied the elf’s emerald green eyes that were almost translucent. The alabaster skin only heightened their deep color. “Are you sure? I’ve never seen anyone working on them, or digging.”

“Mages perhaps.”

Slate let out a laugh that was closer to a bark. “As if a mage would sully their precious feet and robes down here.”

Kharisi pondered this for a moment, wondering if at first it was a jab against elves, as most wielded magic. Kharisi could as well, but it was weak-his strong suit had always been that of a Warrior. In spite of race, Kharisi was a few inches taller than most elves, and possessed a physique befitting the Arnisians from the North. A stocky, fierce nation, all but wiped out after King Haveron destroyed it with the use of a mana bomb. Much as he hated to admit it, Slate was probably right-Elven Mages were a rather prissy group.  He sighed and continued walking. “Be that is it may, it changes not one fact that these sewers do seem to be getting bigger. I remember as a boy, when these were first being built, I would come down and practice my swordplay on the rats. There were very few places to go, or hide for that matter, and the rats then were smaller, weaker and far more frightened of me, than I of them.”

They soon reached a dead end, with the only other option to go back. “Did we miss a turn?” Slate asked. He leaned against the stone wall, and when it gave way , he fell back into the opening it had created. Kharisi grabbed the torch that had tumbled from the dwarf’s grip and held it out after extending his arm into the entry just created.

“My my, you’ve earned your gold piece for today my friend.” He patted the top of Slate’s head, who took a not so serious swipe at the elf’s hand.

“All you’ve earned is an ass kicking, now let’s see where this goes.”

Kharisi had to duck to get into the opening, and what they found themselves in wasn’t another corridor, but a large room. In the center was a fire that threw off no smoke. A cauldron sat on the floor next to it, big enough for someone to sit inside. Slate and Kharisi looked at one another, unease enveloping both of them. “Stay close,” Kharisi said in a hushed tone. “Put the torch out,” he added, we don’t want to be too obvious.”

“Like Elder beasts in the plains,” a voice rang out. It sounded old and haggard as if it took everything the owner had just to say that. Both knew not to let their guard down, as Crones were known to be very tricky. “Come, come, I won’t….bite!” A cackle of laughter and a flash of light blinded them briefly and when they could see again there was a shadowy figure next to the cauldron, hunched, withered, and covered with a cowl that had straggles of straw coarse gray hair.

“I said, come.”

The duo found themselves walking towards the elevated platform where the Crone and her pot waited. Despite the chill from the stone walls and Fall weather outside of the walls, sweat began beading on their foreheads, this despite the fact the fire she had going gave off no heat. Slate was the first to climb up the three shallow steps and stood within striking distance of the Crone, though he gave no appearance he would do so.  The Crone eyed Slate, scanning him with an intensity that Kharisi found frightening.  “I’ve no interest in you dwarf!” She said, and with a small flick of her wrist, Slate flung backwards as an unseen force blew him off the altar.

“You, Elf, give to me what is mine,” flames danced in her white blinded eyes. There was a sliver of saliva dripping from the corner of her toothless mouth. The nostrils on her sharp nose twitched with impatience.

“I have nothing for you hag, not even a stiff wand for you to fondle.”

“Hag?” she cried, her stooped posture stretching itself out until she stood straight and tall. “Watch your tongue Elf! You killed my precious Eolanda, then stole the ring I gave to her. Tread carefully. Hand it to me and you may even live.”

Kharisi had no doubt she was serious, and while Crones weren’t necessarily good, they never went out of their way to harm a stranger. That was until Kharisi met this crone, whose heart was as black as the robes she wore. Must be very important if she’s threatening. Must not let her have it then. “Perhaps in your old age you’ve forgotten things, it happened to my grandmother. Besides, why would you give a ring to a spider?

“That is not yours to know.  Give me the ring.” Her voice was cold and frosty.  Kharisi stood there, unmoving, barely blinking.

“Once more, I know nothing about it.”

“Liar! I saw you pocket it, look into the cauldron as instructed, and saw the fight with the spider on the oily surface. He watched as Slate kept chipping away and Kharisi snuck around to deal the final blow. He saw himself pocket the plain looking ring and catch up to Slate.

Kharisi refused to admit his thievery and remained silent. He put his hand in his pocket and closed his fist around the jewelry. As he pulled his hand out, Kharisi opened his hand, showing the ring on his sweat slick palm. The crone snatched for it but was too slow, as Kharisi moved his hand then unclenched his fist to show the ring had disappeared.

“Enough games,” the crone said with a quiet voice. “That ring is mine and I want to have it.” From within the sleeve of her robe she pulled out a gnarled branch of a wand, and pointed it at Kharisi. A thin blue beam of light pulsed from the stick and sent a wave of cold over Kharisi’s body, he could feel his toes starting to freeze to the point he was unable to wiggle them. His teeth chattered, as his torso shivered. Kharisi’s eyes began to burn as he couldn’t blink, and the tears which tried to fall became little shards of ice. As he tried to close his mouth, his jaw froze in an O position, which he thought would bring no shortage of amusement to anyone who might see.

The Crone moved closer and the cold became stronger. She cackled and was so intent on Kharisi, that she hadn’t noticed Slatesneaking around behind her, axe held high. “That’ll be enough of that!” he said, and swung horizontally, cutting the Crone’s head clean from her body. The head flew through air, as the body crumbled to the floor. Her wand fell to the ground, bounced and hit Kharisi between his now thawing legs. In almost an instant, his bulge grew and distorted the front of his leggings. Slate pretended not to notice and grabbed the wand but it crumbled in his hand leaving nothing but shavings.

You had the ring all this time and said nothing? Slate said, his face turning red as much from anger as embarrassment.

“I had a ring. But it’s so plain I had no idea it was the one we were searching for.” He made no attempt to hide his engorgement, though he was still feeling the effects of the Crone’s freezing spell, he may not have even noticed were it not for the fact Slate kept glancing at his. Kharisi looked down and grinned. “Apparently something is still frozen. Care to warm it up?’

Slate gave him a look of disgust and turned away. “Let’s just get out of here,” he said, walking away. Kharisi remained quiet and followed, kicking the Crone’s bloody head out of the way out of spite.

Phobophobia

 

Several weeks ago my friend Joe made a mock up cover using a photo I had played with on my phone. The title, Phobophobia, was his idea. The only problem was, I didn’t have anything I was writing that might fit the title.  I liked his idea for the cover a lot, and put it on the back burner as I continued working on Lonely Are The Dead.

As it so happens, progress on LATD began to become a fight to get anything written. I sort of know where I want to go, but the ending has been eluding me. Everytime I would open the file, I’d stare, and edit what I’d already written, but couldn’t-and still can’t-figure out the right ending. The one I had in mind would serve its purpose of tying the tale up, but it’s not one I’m happy with.

 

And then last night in a conversation on facebook, Joe asked me if I was working on anything new. I had a couple of ideas for a short story for the next Fossil Lake anthology, but instead I wrote, “I have an idea for my next one, which I kind of got from that phobophobia cover you did. Lots of bugs, boils, and a serial killing priest.” Thus surprised me as I did have an idea involving bugs and boils, but the serial killing priest was a new element. However, it intrigued me, and I started thinking about it. I went to bed, and when I woke up this morning I knew how the first chapter would go. I banged it out in about an hour, and very happy with the results.

As I was writing it, I was struck with another inspiration: I would not only connect it with Barbed Wire Kisses, but also introduce the main character in LATD, psychic detective Napoleon Santierre.  What follows is part of the first chapter from Phobophobia. A one sentence synopsis would be: Father Rossi is a serial killer priest who chooses his victims based on his phobias, and Santierre, with the help of his victims and other ghosts sets out to uncover and stop him.

 

As always this is coprighted by myself and none may be used or excerpted without my express permission. Enjoy.

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Phobophobia

One:

Our Lady of Perpetual Dispensation

 

Father Rossi sat in the confessional, and wiped sweat from his smooth upper lip. He could feel it beading on his hairless scalp, and felt it trickle down his brow. Some errant droplets slid down into his eyes, stinging them. When that happened he would push the frames of his bifocals up and wipe at the tear ducts with a dainty finger. Even with his thin frame, the confessional was cramped, and with the air conditioning on the fritz, and claustrophobia beginning to kick in, hearing the sins of his parishioners seemed unbearable.

Not for the first time, Rossi pictured himself as the Lord wandering through the desert,. Dried, on the verge of bleeding skin buffeted by hot wind. as sand ripped at the flesh and blinding him at the same time. Arizona was no place to be without working air conditioning, particularly in the summer. Rossi sighed and opened the door. It had been almost fifteen minutes since the last sinner had bleated their litany of crimes against God, and he wasn’t surprised to find the church empty. The only noise to pierce the quiet was the repairman on the roof tending to the cooling units.

The priest took his walking stick which was leaning against the flimsy panel that separated him from the confessor and stepped into the oppressive heat of Our Lady of Immaculate Dispensation. He surveyed the small area as he always did when he finished his obligation, and wondered, again, as he always did, what he’d ever done to be placed in such an unremarkable, almost forgotten parish. The wooden pews were ancient, even when he’d arrived almost a decade prior, and almost unbearable to sit on for any length of time. The hymnals, on the rare times they raised their voice in song, were tattered. Pages were missing, and indeed, so were some of the covers. What remained of them had yellowing pages with fading ink. Rossi had continually asked for the funds from the Bishop to renovate or at the very least replace the hymnals but his requests had always been rebuffed. “Tough times, declining numbers, maybe another time…” is all he heard. When Rossi heard the Bishop was driving a new Lincoln town car he stopped asking.

The priest walked up the aisle, eyes focused on the altar and the large crucifix attached to the back wall. The eyes of a Christ in agony seemed to follow him. He knelt before the creaking altar, genuflected, and jumped as the sound of something crashing came from above. Rossi looked up and saw some of the plaster floating down like dirty snow. “What in blazes?” he said under his breath. He turned around, marched down the center of the church and opened the front doors and was accosted by the ruthless heat and blazing sun. Rossi for once ignored the weather, and walked around the wood and stone building to the back. There was a rickety wooden stairwell that led to the roof, as well as the bell tower though there hadn’t been a bell in place since the late 1800’s. Holding his cane in one hand and grabbing the splinter laden banister with the other, Father Rossi climbed up what was essentially a fancy ladder and peered over the Spanish tile roof top.

“Everything okay?”

 

There was no response. Rossi set his cane down on the edge of the roof, careful to not let it fall over. He pulled up the hem of his cassock so as not to trip on it and set a foot on the roof. With great care so he didn’t go falling off either, he pulled his other foot onto the fragile terra cotta shingles and held out his hands to gain his balance. After a moment, he made his way to the middle where the rusty evaporative cooler sat like a malignant growth, and saw the repairman straining to lift it back onto the metallic shelf it had fallen from.

“Need a hand?” he asked.

The repairman looked up, eyes hidden behind a pair of 99 cent store sunglasses. “About six of them.”

Rossi gave a slight smile, and bent down on his haunches, and the repairman waved him away. “No need, this ain’t going anywhere, ‘cept maybe through this roof if we mess with it.” He stood, and offered a hand to help the priest up. Rossi accepted the help, and heard his knees pop as he stood. He reached into the slit in the side of his cassock, and pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket. Rossi wiped the sweat from his face, and ran it around the damp collar.

“I’d give this last rites father. It’s done for.” He then went on to explain everything that was wrong, and how he might be able to get parts, but no guarantees as this model was so old, and should have been replaced years ago. Rossi nodded, a fake smile amidst a darkening face. He would nod, and give an “I see,” once in awhile, but all he could think of was the sweat.

The soiled clothing, the wet skin, and the bacteria that could form in the excretion. While no doctor, he knew that sweat could be cesspools for any kind of bug and cause ringworm, illness, and God knew what else.

No, I’ll have none of that, he thought. Rossi processed all he’d been told and concluded that despite its age, the cooler could be fixed, but the repairman didn’t want to. Already he was gathering up his tools, and placing them in a canvas bag, his work here done. What the priest saw was a lazy sinner only intent on sending Mother Church a hefty bill for doing absolutely nothing except get a tan.

The repairman zipped up the bag, grabbed it by the handle and made his way to the staircase. He noticed the can laying on the roof, and bent to pick it up. He gripped it by the bottom and offered the handle end to the priest. Rossi took it and held firm. Before the repairman could release it, Rossi gave a hard shove, throwing the worker off balance. He yanked his cane away and poked him in the chest sending him back and over the side of the church. Rossi heard the satisfying sound of his skull cracking on an exposed rock.

Rossi climbed down, careful to fall himself, and when he reached the bottom, stood over the repairman. Blood and gore leaked from the open wound, as his eyes fluttered in his sockets and his limbs twitched. He stepped over the soon to be dead man in search of a glass of water.

Then maybe he’d use the phone in his rectory.

Writing Updates

Those who follow me on twitter or facebook know some of this, but for those who don’t, (and why not?), here’s an update on what I’m working on.

 

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You may notice that it says narrator. Yes, Barbed Wire Kisses is an audiobook! Or will be, in about 10-14 business days. My narrator Wayne Messmer did an incredible job, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! Details on where and how to get it will be posted as soon as it goes live.

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With another great cover by Joseph K. Adams, this is a compilation of my John Waters essays from talkbacker.com. I’ve gone in and reedited them, and in some cases added more material.  There’s a great foreword by Nick NIghtly and an introduction by myself. This is in the end stages of editing and formatting, and will be available as an ebook in mid July.

 

And last but not least there’s:

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My original intention was to have this out by mid summer. As with all plans, it’s not going to work out that way. I’ve had problems with getting an ending I’m satisfied with, and while it’s very close, it;s just not where I want it to be. My plan is for a Fall release. Possibly Halloween.  I know people are excited to read this, and I apologize for the delay, but I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

 

I’m also going to be working on a story for the next Fossil Lake anthology, as well as a radio play about H.P. Lovecraft. And of course there’s the articles at talkbacker.

I thank each and everyone of you for your support, and hope you enjoy everything I do.

Lonely Are the Dead Excerpt!

What follows is the first chapter of my upcoming novel “Lonely Are the Dead”. This is as different from anything else I’ve written as you could possibly get. The violence is mild, the vocabualry clean-well mostly clean-and far more a quiet form of horror. Keep in mind, this is from a second draft, and may change a little or lot when finally released later this year, but it will give you a good idea of the tone of the new work. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any comments please feel free to leave them.  As per usual, this work is copyrighted by myself, and no excerpts are allowed without my concent. 

 

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My name is Eryle Harrigan, poet, madman, and a traveler of worlds. On October 31st  1899 I vanished from my cell at Bellevue Hospital in New York for the first of a multitude of times. This disappearance was as much a mystery to me at the time, as it was the rest of the world. When I reappeared that first time, I was in a small, weed ridden graveyard some miles away. I have no memory of how I got there, but I was without my clothing, shivering and confused. The caretaker, whose name I do not remember, spotted me huddled in the archway of a crumbling mausoleum. I can still hear the faint echo of his rough hewn voice, chipped away with too many cigarettes and gallons of cheap alcohol. In the darkness I could see the lantern heading closer to me, the flame whipping and threatening extinction with each hurried step he took.

I didn’t move, more from modesty than anything else. I waited until he was close enough for me to shield my eyes from the small but powerful glow of the metal contained light. He held it up in his left hand, a pistol pointed towards me in his right. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”  I tried to answer but couldn’t find my voice. More accurately it was as if I had forgotten how to speak. I certainly couldn’t remember my name, of that I am certain. “I asked you a question!”

I gave a small shrug and looked up, still unable to say anything. Though I had no feeling of sadness, I could sense a trail of tears running down my cheeks, pocketing little specks of the salty water in the corners of my closed mouth. “I’ll not ask you again.” The caretaker’s voice was low, threaded with menace.

Without knowing I was about to do so, I said, “Your accent…from Ireland?” This seemed to take him by surprise, and I couldn’t think to blame him. The last thing one would expect to hear when confronting an unclothed man crouching in a cemetery was a discussion of accents.  I could see his features relax a bit. The gun wielding hand lowered just a bit, and he nodded. “My Mother’s from Dublin. We emigrated ten years hence to New Foundland, then when my Father passed we moved here.”

I had no idea if what I had said was true, at least not then, but it took the caretaker further aback. “From Cork myself, just been here the past year and a few months give or take.” With that, he put the pistol in his pocket, and moved a bit closer. “Been drinking?”

I shook my head, and could feel shoulder length hair dance on the skin on my face. It felt brittle as the working end of a straw broom and smelled about the same. “Are you hurt?” he asked.

Once more I shook my head and added a “No, I’m not,” as well. The man sighed and scratched his temple, moving his cap up enough to show that whatever hair he may have had had taken upon itself to leave. “Well what the hell are you doing here, and without your damn clothes?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where’d you come from?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s your name?”

“I don’t know”

“What are you, mad?”

“I may well be.”

“Well you can’t stay here and freeze to death.” He set the lamp down, took his coat off, handed it to me and turned around. “Put that on and follow me, I’ve no interest in taking a gander at your manhood.”

That made me smile; I stood, put on the heavy coat lined with lamb’s wool , and walked briskly behind him across the length of the graveyard until we reached a wooden shack that seemed no bigger than an outhouse. He pulled a key from around his neck and used it to release a padlock on the door. I was ushered inside and was able to make out a table and two chairs. There was a book, some papers, as well as a plate with a half eaten chicken leg on the desk. A mug, half empty of a pungent mead scented liquid was to the left of the plate. “Sit,” he said.

I obeyed and sat on one of the rickety chairs which rocked a bit due to a weak leg. The custodian sat in the other chair, in front of the meal I obviously interrupted, reached down and brought up a bottle. He turned and grabbed another mug that had been sitting on a shelf, poured some liquor into the pewter mug and handed it to me. “This will help you warm up.”

I took a sip, grimaced, and coughed at the bitterness. “How did you know I was there?” I asked.

“I didn’t. I saw a flash of light and heard a loud noise. Went to see what it was and found you.”  He stared at me, even going so far as to lean in close enough I could smell his fetid breath. “You’re not the Devil are you?”

“If I were, I’d have dressed warmer,” I answered.  Against my better judgment I took another sip, managed not to cough, but still grimaced, and set the mug down on the table.

“Do you remember anything?”

I closed my eyes. I furrowed my brow with deep thought but for the life of me remembered nothing. It was a blank slate. Nothing but emptiness…no, not emptiness, but an absence of anything. Emptiness would have entailed that my mind was full at some point.  “No. No, I don’t.” Another slight trickle of tears.

“Here now, not to worry, we’ll get this all sorted. Perhaps you were hit on the head in a robbery and your clothes taken.” He said this with such conviction and surety I almost believed him.

I knew better though. I wasn’t sure why, simply that I knew he was wrong. It was something much darker and malevolent.

There was a period of silence, and I could see the wheels turning in the keeper’s head. He wanted to do something. To help, I surmised, but neither of us knew what form that would take. “I need to take a walk around the grounds. You should probably stay here, will you be okay?”

“I believe so.”

“I’d say t’hell with it, but with it being Halloween and kids what they are…” his voice trailed off. The apologetic inflection of his words unmistakable. I also think he really wanted to be away from me as well. My appearance, lack of memory and inability to provide him any information had started to fill him with a slowly dawning dread. I could see the sweat beading on his upper lip. The slight shake to his hand as he lit a spare lantern to leave with me. The way he carefully avoided touching even by accident was as subtle as thunderstorm.  “Shouldn’t be more than half of an hour,” he said, before opening the door to the outside world. Once I was shut in I heard the snap of the padlock, letting me know I wasn’t going anywhere even if I wanted to.

I turned the screw on the lantern to enlarge the flame a bit and looked at the book on the table. I reached out and pulled it across the table closer to me and looked at the cover. The dark green cloth felt warm to the touch. The gold colored imprinting on it was too faded to read, but I didn’t need to.

I knew the book was mine. I don’t mean to imply I owned the book, I mean to say, I had written the book. I traced my finger along the spine, and the lettering lit with a deep magma color. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes. There was a smell of smoke, but not from the lantern. This was something deeper, and far earthier than an oil soaked wick could ever hope to produce.  I place my hand palm down on the cover, and even with my eyes closed could sense the room lighting up. I pressed my hand down, feeling a surge of something electrical start to course through my body. I felt aroused, though not in a carnal nature.

I felt alive in a way I’ve never felt before or since. Opening my eyes, I looked down, the book’s cover flying open, throwing my hand off it violently, the way an unwilling wild horse will buck a rider off. The pages began to flip as if a massive wind were ripping through them. Back and forth they went, an unseen hand desperately trying to find something contained within. I placed both a hand on each side of the book, feeling a magnetic pull drawing me to the pages. I tried to resist and the more I did, the stronger it got. My head moved closer, visions of things I couldn’t begin to comprehend, swam in my consciousness. I could smell the nearby graves. Worse, I could smell the inhabitants of those graves. Some nothing but bones and rags, others recently departed and smelling of rotting flesh. A scream tried to escape my throat, but was denied. The tip of my nose was now in the crease of the book, pages on each side slapping me on each cheek, leaving superficial cuts. As blood from the wounds trickled down and dripped onto the tome, the pull became impossible to resist. The room around me disappeared, as did the book. There was nothing but the sensation of free falling and the horror of knowing I would never land.

 

A Bittersweet Moment

Today was a day of bittersweet moments.  The official cover for Fossil Lake, which includes my story, “The Day Lloyd Campbell’s Mama Came to Town”, was released. Take a gander below for a look:

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I also found out that the publisher of Fossil Lake, Janrae Frank passed away.

It’s hard to believe she’s gone to the land of the eternal, and no doubt, scribbling away at her next novel.  Not even death can slow her pen dipped in equal parts acid and love.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have known Janrae for six years or so. When I started writing again, she was one of the first people I met online, and she struck a very imposing figure. Those who know me well, know that my first published piece was a poem entitled, “Forgotten Son”, from the now out of print poetry anthology,  “Death In Common”.  And though that tomes final resting place was with another publisher, I learned a lot from her and the experience. Some good, and some…not so good. We had a falling out which instigated a couple of years of silence between us. However, I always read her comments on other blogs and forums, and never really lost my respect for her as a person and as a writer. Anything positive I was able to do with Bandersnatch Books was due to her and a couple of others. Its failings were all my own, and my unwillingness to heed her advice.

I am glad to say that over the past few months we were able to mend fences, and became friends again. I’m not always easy to get along with, yet Janrae, to her credit, never let me get in the way of friendship. I could go on, but would rather direct you to a post written by her daughter and daughter in-law, which says far more eloquently, everything you could want to know about this larger than life woman. http://www.daverana.com/blog/2014-01-13/janrae-frank

You’ll be missed ole Cuss, but you’ll never be forgotten.

 

“Fossil Lake” will be released on 1/15/2014

Mike Brendan: Troll Hunter

After a lovely two week respite from the mangy, flea infested Nikita, our little troll has come back with a 19 page (!) .pdf file explaining  why his collection of whining and egomania isn’t libelous.  While I never link to his silliness, I will in this case, as it’s breathtaking in its hypocrisy, delusions, and typical lack of coherence. http://unclefossil.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/in-defense-of-confessional.pdf

Want to save time and brain cells? Mike Brendan did a fantastic job of slaying the troll. What follows is posted with his permission and taken from the comments on the rectal fissure’s blog.

Nicky, this 19-page vomit continues to prove that you are incompetent as a writer. You’d have to work hard for years to become a tenth of a peer to anyone else, and since you don’t know how to actually work…

The HWA didn’t commit libel when they called you a stalker. You used their membership database to harass and bully people who criticized your work.

“…publication is a democracy for the people by the people.” Wrong again. And a democracy is “by the people, for the people,” not the way you said it.

“…the deed of posting every link to every story in the table of contents of my first
anthology…” That’s not illegal or piracy and you damn well know it Nicky.

“– I consider myself an average Joe…” Wrong again, Nick. You are well below average in every respect.

“…the characters in the story are in a way like the people I know in real life.” And given that they’re naught more than cardboard cut-outs with no personality, it just goes to show how you regard people in general.

“…The Pacione Collective actually put the hammer on her…” Your “Collective” consists of you and your imaginary allies. And, no, you haven’t put the hammer on anyone. In fact, your hateful actions actually help their sales.

“…then make fun of the people who actually enjoy it…” Stop deflecting, Nicky. These comments are directed at you and you alone. Take your criticism like a man, not a man-child.

“…hiding behind the mask of being a Christian to tear someone down…” You’ve directed this sentiment at me many times in the past. What’s the matter, too much a coward to call me out by name?

“The reason I was thrown off LiveJournal.com in 2003″ — is because you made many TOS violations.

“I did not lie about certain blurbs…” Yes, you did. Joe Lansdale refuted you on that one, and his integrity far outweighs yours.

“I nearly went looking for him and so I could toss the amoral faggot over the North Avenue Bridge.” I doubt you could lift a bag of dog food without a struggle…

“… I did turnabout and suggested he got excited touching…” That’s neither turnabout or an elaborate “fuck you.” THAT, is libel, plain and simple.

“If I was a racist, I wouldn’t have six authors of color…” That defense never works, especially when called one person’s kid a mongrel and another person a “wetback.”

“…I want to up and beat the shit out of them…” but you never do anything to “males” because you’re a flaccid coward who couldn’t pound cookie dough. Nicky. Yet you’ll harass women who say the same things about you constantly. Typical sexist bullying behavior.

“Well I am extremely cultured as a doctor of internal medication…” He’s probably referring to whatever is brewing in that toxic waste dump you call a mouth, as you never practice hygiene. You have no sense of artistic aesthetic at all. No culture either…

“…I need to be locked away under doctor’s care, heavily medicated and decades of therapy….” You really do, ya know.

“…those devotees you have are going to abandon you.” Not because of anything you wrote, most likely because they won’t read it.

“…refuse to be denied my proper due…” You have to earn it Nicky. You’ve yeot put in the work.

“Well to be polite here…” You don’t know how to be polite.

“The response to CONFESSIONAL, as some of you called it “libel,”” — And it is, in every. Legal. Sense of the word.

“As in I invoked a Holy War…” You have to be pious and holy to invoke that. You are neither. Nor are you a leader to be able to do such.

“…is like a 40 year old picking on a 16 year old on a social networking site.” You fail to understand perspective and age ratios. You’re in your thirties now. Calling you a liar and a lousy writer is nothing like bullying a child. Grow up.

“…my intelligence is in full display here –” this is true. You are very much acting like a person with the 79 IQ you once bragged about.

” I will be tempted to put your e-mail address on she-male hook-up sites being your future wife will be a fucking lady-boy.” You make these threats and never follow through on them. Of course most of these sorts of adult sites send confirmation emails to make sure no fraud is being committed, so double fail on you Nicky.

“As I am an Edgar Allan Poe vein author…” No. You’re not.

“I don’t like replying in comments on my blog because I like to put a lot thought into
what I am going go say…” Since when? You just delete the comments you don’t like and spew drivel at will. Stop lying, Nicky.

“…formality is too damn stuffy and makes me uncomfortable.” No, you just don’t have manners.

“Consider this as a warning – if you get this book pulled, there will be a huge backlash upon the part of groups who are diagnosis with a mental illness or have an intellectual disability as you are attacking these groups with threatening to have the book pulled.” There will be no such backlash. Getting your so-called “book” yanked for libel only reflects on you. Again you try and fail to deflect.

“… I will take this story to the press.” Another empty threat. Not like they’ll do anything with it.

“I am selective who I do an interview with.” Translation: “WAAAAH! No one interviews me.”

“Did I piss you off here? ” No.

“– it would be a perfect day for a hanging, and you are going to be on the receiving end of the gallows.” Another threat of violence, Nicky?

“I am the living breathing entity of what inspires a bad boy” No, you’re just a filthy man-child.

“…well I am detailed when it comes to writing a brawl…” Uh… no you’re not. You couldn’t write a fight scene to save your life.

“Calling a published author a plagiarist is just like calling an African-American the n-word.” Wrong. Again.

“…you fucking traitor as you peed on the First Amendment. ” You know nothing about the First Amendment. Or the Bible.

“I don’t threaten to go after the houses of your families…” You threatened to come to my house and cut off my hands once. I sent a copy of the email to St. Joe’s…

“picture palace” Who even uses this phrase any more???

“So I refute the bastards who say, “I can’t edit.” ” They’re right.

“So those of you who are saying I have no creativity –” are spot on.

“… , you lost the right to be called an adult.” You’ve yet to act like one yourself…

“He goes and bit-torrents child pornography.” More libel!

” I am published and been published respectively…” Never professionally, though.

“… I am calling that going old school.” Because you to learn anything new.

“…like what people did with Napster in 2001-2002 where they got ill-gotten copies of Metallica’s I Disappear.” Which is well after the song got released, so the demo tape analogy fails.

“Writing science fiction, for me doing it – I still consider it a parlor trick.” As someone with an actual education in writing SF, I can say you know NOTHING about working in that genre.

“I actually learned how to do this from reading a martial arts magazine – reading actually taught me how to fight” As someone with an actual black belt in Karate, I can say you know NOTHING about martial arts. Go to a dojo, don a white belt and put sweat on the floor for a few years before calling yourself an expert. (At least I know that as Shodan, my studies in karate are just beginning).

“Instead of pounding someone, as I am older – I use traits of an investigative journalist to fight back.” Meaning you’re too much a coward to face anyone in combat.

“My practice of not infringing on someone’s written content or stealing someone’s artwork” — is bullshit considering you lifted a photo from National Geographic and got busted for it.

“I like to play the role where I have the voice of reason.” That has yet to happen. You wouldn’t know reason if it fell on your face and wriggled.

“If those who got an ill-gotten copy of this…” How is it ill gotten if you made it this 19-page spew available in public for free?

“Intellectual theft and piracy can sometimes be grounds for a Jihad.” Wrong again. They are legal issues, not religious. But then again, you don’t even understand the religion you claim to follow.

“…I am not going to repeat myself…” You do that all the time, especially in this doc.

“Still think I am a fucking imbecile now?” Yes. You prove it every time you post…

“…I just took you out with the trash without even taking a physical swing at you.” No, you only think you did.

“…you are entitled to my viewpoint,” Wrong again. *I* am entitled to *my* viewpoint. *You* are entitled to *your* viewpoint.

Like I said. This is proof that you no writer, nor a peer.

Well done, Mike! And thank you for saving me from the nausea!

Wilf Nelson: New Author To Watch For

earth

One of the reasons I like Google+ so much is being able to discover new authors, talk to them and have a level of interaction that I don’t get from Facebook or twitter (and endless self promo spamming doesn’t count as an interaction). Wilf Nelson is one such author. I was very impressed with his intelligence, and love for writing, and when I learned he had a book coming out, I wanted to take an opportunity to interview him. What follows was conducted via email over hte past couple of days,

 Tell us about yourself

I am a psychology student at the university of Birmingham My scientific, logical passion is psychology and researching the mind; my creative passion is writing novels, making stories people enjoy and figuring out new ways to tell stories or themes. I love films and video games as well as books because they offer a more visual and sometimes more interactive art for people. When it comes to books I love the old Victorian science fiction as well as Fitzgerald and Ian McEwan to name a few.
 What can you tell us about your novel, 3 days to Earth?
It is a bit of a satire of how paranoid science fiction and crime novels can be. The blurb is the best way to get a quick view of the book, not to mention the 10% freeavailable on the Kindle store.

“3 days on Earth looks at a world we all know, a post apocalyptic disaster with the world scarred, the population crippled and aliens making contact. But it is not the end, the aliens called the Helpers rebuild the world for us and let us live in a beautiful world of tomorrow capable of supporting the millions of those blind after the radiation bloom from Earth’s destruction.

The story follows Mark Trayler, a detective versed in burglaries and household arguments, now having to solve the first murder in twenty years. With the world watching him for the answers Mark becomes one of the most important figures in the world

What drew you to science fiction as opposed to other genres?

My stepfather when I was young was the only one up as early as me on the weekends. He would watch doctor who omnibus as well as old or cult science fiction films. Once i was a bit older i began to read H.G. Wells, H. Beam Piper, Harry Harrison, Edgar Rice Burroughs. These authors showed me the future and what we were heading towards, but also how to solve the problems and if it is humanity’s nature. So when i found myself wanting to write about people, the fear of aliens, the fear of the apocalypse it felt like a natural choice.

Who are some of your favourite writers?

I guess I’ve mostly answered this but H.G. Wells, Ian McEwan, Fitzgerald. These writers create very fun, very clever novels where you have to pick apart the narrator not just the plot. Also they write (spare Ian McEwan) very short novels most of the time that I can read on the weekends between finishing one book I’m writing and starting another.

What do you hope to readers will take away from 3 days on Earth?

That literature doesn’t have to be dark to be interesting, that the villain doesn’t have to enjoy or even want to do what they are doing and really just to enjoy the nice parts of the books as they make you smile while the dark parts only make you sad in the end.

 What are you currently working on?

My new book doesn’t have a name right now. It is about an ‘Oxfam’ like company in the future where instead of going to countries in distress they go to times of distress. It is set in the Black Death where they are handing out painkillers and muscle relaxants secretively to help. It is not done for profit nor did the company cause the Black Death as friends and family have guessed; just people trying to help others. There is more but for now that is all i want to say.

Is 3 Days On Earth a stand alone novel, or the beginning of a series? Will it be ebook only or are there plans foe a paperback copy?
3 days on earth is not a stand alone book. It’s sequel is the Clockwork Men that will be out this winter
As for the paperback both 3 days on earth and clockwork men will have a paperback version on amazon by the end of the year. If you cannot get the book on kindle it will be on other ebook formats within a fortnight.

 Where can readers pick up your book?

Right now it is available on a kindle or kindle ready devices such as iOS (apple products) and Android devices.

U.S. Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/3-Days-Earth-Ambassador-ebook/dp/B00FC6V498/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380077983&sr=8-1&keywords=wilf+nelson

UK Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/3-Days-Earth-Ambassador-ebook/dp/B00FC6V498/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1379794199&sr=1-1&keywords=3+days+on+earth