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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Myths and Constellations

So at least one of my daughters loves the imaginary patterns of stars in the skies. Enough so that she can spend an evening gazing through her telescope, purring away like a cream-fat kitten. 

My favorite constellation is Orion, so one evening as we talked, she asked me to make up a new story about the constellations and the following is the result. Sit back and enjoy, all you stargazers, as I tell you an untold tale of Orion.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Music and Mock Man Press

Looking from a window above, it's like a story of love
Can you hear me?
Came back only yesterday
I'm moving further away
Want you near me

All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew

Only you

Oh how music can transport you! I was watching TV the other day with my wife and a song came on -immediately took me back decades. The song was from the band called Yaz in the states, Yazoo in the UK. Band members were also involved in Depeche Mode, Erasure, and some great solo works. Only You was the song that blew the dust off past times, not to take away anything from another great Only You song from 1968. Guess it's only fair to post the first two stanzas from The Platter's song as well: 

Only you can make all this world seem right
Only you can make the darkness bright
Only you and you alone
Can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for only you

Only you can make all this change in me
For it's true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand
I understand the magic that you do
You're my dream come true
My one and only you

Upstairs at Eric's is the name of the Yaz/Yahoo album. If you like Adele then you will love the lead singer of Yaz, Alison Moyet. They are very much like her. The song is a nice electronic ballad, the rest of the album ranges from the great to the odd but all good. It hearkens back to the days when you searched the 'imports' section of your local record store. Sometimes you were able to buy the singles of your favorites if they offered them for sale. In fact I remember buying a singles of one of Alison Moyet's later solo songs. My how things have changed. 

Both songs are wonderful examples of writing. The first song is minimal, impactful writing, the second more lyrical and scaffolded. I don't deal with love too much in my writing, not a fan of romance, but it is there of course. How can anyone not write about love? Love is one of the main driving forces in life! The seeking love of adventure, the passionate love between couples, the warmth of family ties. Maybe I should write more romancy stuff. It sells the best for sure. But that's not for me, I'll leave that to others. I write for me first, and hope that others enjoy my words. 

Picture for today: A recent purchase I am very happy with. This one is mine, go get your own! Jason Thompson, also known as Mock Man, drew a great black and white graphic telling of the Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath and a few other HPL stories. The book is available here. Follow the link to see beautiful pictures from the interior. The detail on each page is incredible and must be seen to be believed. One reason I love this purchase is I look forward to the day when drawings are made of my stories, whether it is from my own hand, my wife's considerable drawing talents, or from others.

HPL's The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath & Other Stories
Mock Man as the great dreamer Randolph Carter

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rambo, Frankenstein, and Romeo & Juliet

18 MAY 2020

Today's post is inspiration for authors out there struggling to come up with new ideas. 
Point blank: There are no new ideas. 
Just write what you want to write and do it well! 

Short example: Did you know that Rambo loosely follows the story of Frankenstein? Think on that! Looks like Rambo's growling a little bit in the picture below. 
Rambo inspired by Frankenstein

Longer example: The classic tale of Romeo & Juliet takes its inspiration from an even older Greek Tale called Pyramus and Thisbe, which itself is based on an ancient tale set in a different city. Pyramis and Thisbe are neighbors that fall in love but are denied matrimonial union by their respective families. Tragedy ensues when they agree to meet but happenstance causes one to believe the other is already dead, which causes the other to commit suicide, which in turn leads to the other one to die as well. Tragic ending. The stories are not exactly the same, but you can clearly see the inspiration.

In the earliest tales, their passion and endings are used to explain the color change from white to blood color of the mulberry tree under which they ended their lives. The Greeks were big on stories that explained natural phenomenon (called origin myths or etiological myths).
"Why do mulberries change from white to red, Momma?" 

Read on to see Ovid's telling, and be inspired by his word choices and turns of phrase.

Thisbe, listening for her beau, Pyramus

The Tale of Pyramus and Thisbe:
(From Ovid's Metamorphosis)

In Babylon, where first her queen, for state
Rais'd walls of brick magnificently great,
Liv'd Pyramus, and Thisbe, lovely pair!
He found no eastern youth his equal there,
And she beyond the fairest nymph was fair.
A closer neighbourhood was never known,
Tho' two the houses, yet the roof was one.
Acquaintance grew, th' acquaintance they improve
To friendship, friendship ripen'd into love:
Love had been crown'd, but impotently mad,
What parents could not hinder, they forbad.
For with fierce flames young Pyramus still burn'd,
And grateful Thisbe flames as fierce return'd.
Aloud in words their thoughts they dare not break,
But silent stand; and silent looks can speak.
The fire of love the more it is supprest,
The more it glows, and rages in the breast.

When the division-wall was built, a chink
Was left, the cement unobserv'd to shrink.
So slight the cranny, that it still had been
For centuries unclos'd, because unseen.
But oh! what thing so small, so secret lies,
Which scapes, if form'd for love, a lover's eyes?
Ev'n in this narrow chink they quickly found
A friendly passage for a trackless sound.
Safely they told their sorrows, and their joys,
In whisper'd murmurs, and a dying noise,
By turns to catch each other's breath they strove,
And suck'd in all the balmy breeze of love.
Oft as on diff'rent sides they stood, they cry'd,
Malicious wall, thus lovers to divide!
Suppose, thou should'st a-while to us give place
To lock, and fasten in a close embrace:
But if too much to grant so sweet a bliss,
Indulge at least the pleasure of a kiss.
We scorn ingratitude: to thee, we know,
This safe conveyance of our minds we owe.

Pyramus and Thisbe conversing through a crack in the wall

Thus they their vain petition did renew
'Till night, and then they softly sigh'd adieu.
But first they strove to kiss, and that was all;
Their kisses dy'd untasted on the wall.
Soon as the morn had o'er the stars prevail'd,
And warm'd by Phoebus, flow'rs their dews exhal'd,
The lovers to their well-known place return,
Alike they suffer, and alike they mourn.
At last their parents they resolve to cheat
(If to deceive in love be call'd deceit),
To steal by night from home, and thence unknown
To seek the fields, and quit th' unfaithful town.
But, to prevent their wand'ring in the dark,
They both agree to fix upon a mark;
A mark, that could not their designs expose:
The tomb of Ninus was the mark they chose.
There they might rest secure beneath the shade,
Which boughs, with snowy fruit encumber'd, made:
A wide-spread mulberry its rise had took
Just on the margin of a gurgling brook.
Impatient for the friendly dusk they stay;
And chide the slowness of departing day;
In western seas down sunk at last the light,
From western seas up-rose the shades of night.
The loving Thisbe ev'n prevents the hour,
With cautious silence she unlocks the door,
And veils her face, and marching thro' the gloom
Swiftly arrives at th' assignation-tomb.
For still the fearful sex can fearless prove;
Boldly they act, if spirited by love.
When lo! a lioness rush'd o'er the plain,
Grimly besmear'd with blood of oxen slain:
And what to the dire sight new horrors brought,
To slake her thirst the neighb'ring spring she sought.
Which, by the moon, when trembling Thisbe spies,
Wing'd with her fear, swift, as the wind, she flies;
And in a cave recovers from her fright,
But drop'd her veil, confounded in her flight.
When sated with repeated draughts, again
The queen of beasts scour'd back along the plain,
She found the veil, and mouthing it all o'er,
With bloody jaws the lifeless prey she tore.

The youth, who could not cheat his guards so soon,
Late came, and noted by the glimm'ring moon
Some savage feet, new printed on the ground,
His cheeks turn'd pale, his limbs no vigour found;
But when, advancing on, the veil he spied
Distain'd with blood, and ghastly torn, he cried,
One night shall death to two young lovers give,
But she deserv'd unnumber'd years to live!
'Tis I am guilty, I have thee betray'd,
Who came not early, as my charming maid.
Whatever slew thee, I the cause remain,
I nam'd, and fix'd the place where thou wast slain.
Ye lions from your neighb'ring dens repair,
Pity the wretch, this impious body tear!
But cowards thus for death can idly cry;
The brave still have it in their pow'r to die.
Then to th' appointed tree he hastes away,
The veil first gather'd, tho' all rent it lay:
The veil all rent yet still it self endears,
He kist, and kissing, wash'd it with his tears.
Tho' rich (he cry'd) with many a precious stain,
Still from my blood a deeper tincture gain.
Then in his breast his shining sword he drown'd,
And fell supine, extended on the ground.
As out again the blade lie dying drew,
Out spun the blood, and streaming upwards flew.
So if a conduit-pipe e'er burst you saw,
Swift spring the gushing waters thro' the flaw:
Then spouting in a bow, they rise on high,
And a new fountain plays amid the sky.
The berries, stain'd with blood, began to show
A dark complexion, and forgot their snow;
While fatten'd with the flowing gore, the root
Was doom'd for ever to a purple fruit.

Mean-time poor Thisbe fear'd, so long she stay'd,
Her lover might suspect a perjur'd maid.
Her fright scarce o'er, she strove the youth to find
With ardent eyes, which spoke an ardent mind.
Already in his arms, she hears him sigh
At her destruction, which was once so nigh.
The tomb, the tree, but not the fruit she knew,
The fruit she doubted for its alter'd hue.
Still as she doubts, her eyes a body found
Quiv'ring in death, and gasping on the ground.
She started back, the red her cheeks forsook,
And ev'ry nerve with thrilling horrors shook.
So trembles the smooth surface of the seas,
If brush'd o'er gently with a rising breeze.
But when her view her bleeding love confest,
She shriek'd, she tore her hair, she beat her breast.
She rais'd the body, and embrac'd it round,
And bath'd with tears unfeign'd the gaping wound.
Then her warm lips to the cold face apply'd,
And is it thus, ah! thus we meet, she cry'd!
My Pyramus! whence sprung thy cruel fate?
My Pyramus!-ah! speak, ere 'tis too late.
I, thy own Thisbe, but one word implore,
One word thy Thisbe never ask'd before.
At Thisbe's name, awak'd, he open'd wide
His dying eyes; with dying eyes he try'd
On her to dwell, but clos'd them slow, and dy'd.

The fatal cause was now at last explor'd,
Her veil she knew, and saw his sheathless sword:
From thy own hand thy ruin thou hast found,
She said, but love first taught that hand to wound,
Ev'n I for thee as bold a hand can show,
And love, which shall as true direct the blow.
I will against the woman's weakness strive,
And never thee, lamented youth, survive.
The world may say, I caus'd, alas! thy death,
But saw thee breathless, and resign'd my breath.
Fate, tho' it conquers, shall no triumph gain,
Fate, that divides us, still divides in vain.

Now, both our cruel parents, hear my pray'r;
My pray'r to offer for us both I dare;
Oh! see our ashes in one urn confin'd,
Whom love at first, and fate at last has join'd.
The bliss, you envy'd, is not our request;
Lovers, when dead, may sure together rest.
Thou, tree, where now one lifeless lump is laid,
Ere-long o'er two shalt cast a friendly shade.
Still let our loves from thee be understood,
Still witness in thy purple fruit our blood.
She spoke, and in her bosom plung'd the sword,
All warm and reeking from its slaughter'd lord.
The pray'r, which dying Thisbe had preferr'd,
Both Gods, and parents, with compassion heard.
The whiteness of the mulberry soon fled,
And rip'ning, sadden'd in a dusky red:
While both their parents their lost children mourn,
And mix their ashes in one golden urn.

Thus did the melancholy tale conclude,
And a short, silent interval ensu'd.
The next in birth unloos'd her artful tongue,
And drew attentive all the sister-throng.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sun and Moon

16 MAY 2020
Today I'm going to be spit-balling a fantasy story idea. This blogpost will change as the story details become fine-tuned.

Imagine a world much like ours, but where magic exists. Magic based solely on heavenly bodies, with the Sun and Moon, as the closest heavenly bodies, being the dominant sources of magic. There are no other types of magic except those based on heavenly bodies. Mages of the other heavenly bodies (
 Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) are too weak to be major players. They do have some powers though and will be used to reinforce the worldview. 

The Sun. Source of the strongest magics
The Sun

Sun worshippers are able to call for heat, fire, growth, beginnings, and illumination. Practitioners are called: Solars/Heliomancers/ Solmancers/ Daymages? Overall they are the most powerful magicians in the world. Their most powerful time is during the summer solstice, their weakest during the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

How would our world change if sun and moon magic were real? Births outdoor during the day. maybe attempts to influence when babies are born. 

Loose caste system
* Women who are born during the day have no magic at all.
* Men born at night. They can be weak or strong in moon magic, but no sun magic.
* Women born at night. Strongest in moon magic.
* Men born during the day.

Two rulers, one sun and one moon. The sun ruler is kept or changed out by vote once a year at the summer solstice. And the moon ruler is always changed out every tenth new moon.

Sun magic can only be performed in sunlight, by men only, and is accomplished through prayers to the sacred sun names, dances (always sunwise - to the right), and blood sacrifices (a la Aztecs but not to ensure the Sun rose each day). Hilltops are favored, as are ziggurats (flattened tops). Clouds are their nemesis, and their worst fears can be found underground. Day mages come from babies born at sunrise, high noon, and sunset. Those born at sunrise are starters, nooners are strongest, and sunset babies are the longest-lasting.

The story starts with a Sun mage on the run. He is better off during the day, but defenseless at night. 
In order to survive, he must find workarounds for not being able to call on the sun in shade or shadow, and later on during the darkest nights. Not sure how he would do that yet. If the magic can only be done while in sunlight, then that means... 
Sunflowers are sacred. They do follow the sun after all. They store sunpower and may be used to replenish solars when they are weak. 

The Moon, second most powerful source of magic
The Moon

Those who worship the moon call on her for coolness, change, undead and other creatures of the night (bats), tides, hidden things. Practitioners are called witches and warlocks. Some of the story hook will be the from the 'traditional' aspect of the moon followers offset with the uniqueness of the Sun mages.

Moon magic may be cast while the moon is in the sky, whether seen or unseen, by men and women. This is a source of much questing. Men are the only ones who can cast either sun or moon magic, depending on when they are born (day or night), but women born during the day are powerless. Women may only cast moon magic. 

Moon magic is accomplished through spells painfully crafted over the years and written down in secretive books of shadows compiled by covens. The moon does not give up its secrets easily. Sensitive moon mages can feel when the moon is in the sky. They are in touch with the phases and the rising and setting times, much more than Sun worshipers, who watch the stretching of the day in the summer and its shrinking in the winter. Babies born during the midnight of the night of the fullest moon or midnight of the the darkest night of the new moon are stronger than others.

The climax of the story takes place during an eclipse. And ends there... Did the witches and warlocks manage the inconceivable, stopping the moon to overpower the sun?

I’ll have to keep working on this, I like it.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Shadows, Thieves, and Hidden Things

30 APR 2020

I will try and put today's blog into some semblance of order, though how that is possible I know not!

If you ever wonder where stories come from, today's blog is one example of story formation.

It all started with a little light reading. "The Double Shadow", a dark fantasy short story written in the 1930s by Clark Ashton Smith (also known by his initials CAS). The magical tale is available online here

Clark Ashton Smith in his younger days

Why did I read this piece? Because I've never read anything by CAS, though I've heard good things and I've read stories by several of his compatriots. He is considered one of the three top writers of Weird Fiction back in the day, along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Every good writer needs to read, especially stories in a similar vein of what they want to produce in order to learn what's out there and what works and what doesn't work. In this case, what I read was a bit creepy, a lot wordy, and somewhat satisfying for someone who enjoys fantasy.

The story inspired me to tackle crafting my own short story about shadows. Want a sneak peak into it? I'll give you one of the ideas I ran with. What if the spell of the double shadow, while an evil and possessing Thing in Smith's story, could be used to strengthen, to bolster a magician in some key, mystical way? Hm... Instead of being an evil trap to seduce and take over other sorcerers who came across it, the spell had an actual purpose for those who could handle its seemingly malignant power. Hm indeed.

If you're interested in other stories by Smith, some are available online at the Eldritch Dark. Expect the weird...

While I mused about shadows, my random music selection fell upon Moonshadow by Cat Stevens. Serendipity? Who knows. What I do know is that the synchronicity of music and reading brought my thoughts hither and yon...

What is a moonshadow? It's different from a regular shadow, which is the darkness formed when something blocks the sun’s
rays, a true outline. A moonshadow is the deeper darkness formed when something blocks the moon’s rays. But the moon’s rays are not the same as the sun’s. They are a reflection, a parody, a transmutation of the sun’s rays. 

So, a moonshadow, to those who can see them, shows not a person’s true outline. It is a weaker, more subtle light. And, unlike regular shadows formed by the Sun, moonshadow outlines are not true…

For my shadow story, I decided that Moonshadows can be seen naturally by some creatures. Others may view moonshadows through glasses made with moonglass, which can be created through several methods, including from a type of moonstone (from the moon), or by a simple spell and a drop of water from a source reflecting the moon’s light. It can also be made through an alchemical process that coats normal glass with a special layer. 

Moonshadows in my story will be useful for a bit of foreshadowing...get it? See what I did there? All right, moving on!

Can I Get a Hand? As an author, I look up all sorts of things that probably have me on several government watch lists, lol. Joking of course, good thing I mainly write fantasy! My wife on the other hand, the murder mystery writer, is probably on more lists than I am. Anyways, one of my searches while crafting my own shadow story was a Hand of Glory.

For those thankfully unfamiliar, a Hand of Glory is a grotesque, magical light used for thievery, allegedly. There are several actual Hands to be found around the world, including one that spent some time in a pub, so we've truly gone from the world of fantasy to a mix of fantasy and reality. All in the name of story research!

An intruder 'arm'ed with a Hand of Glory (which, btw, is created by cutting off the hand of a hung murderer and using one or more of the fingers of the hand as candles) can open locked doors and see by the light of the Hand (which no else can see). In most stories involving a Hand of Glory, no one but the intruder is able to wake or move in the household either, facilitating the thievery. Here is a snippet of online Hand of Glory lore:

Hand of Glory 
Now open, lock!
To the Dead Man's knock!
Fly, bolt, and bar, and band!
Nor move, nor swerve,
Joint, muscle, or nerve,
At the spell of the Dead Man's hand!
Sleep, all who sleep! -- Wake, all who wake!
But be as the dead for the Dead Man's sake!

A very powerful item indeed. What does this 'magic torch' have to do with the aforementioned shadow story? I was looking for something magical useful to steal something at a certain plot point. And the Hand, also known as a corpse candle or thieve's light, was a perfect addition to an already fantastic story forming. 

Most of my stories are set in a fantasy setting, and one of my world's rules are that undead exist during certain eras. While I was working on my plot, I thought, if undead exist, and if a Hand of Glory emits an invisible light, might that light be visible to the undead, considering it comes from a dead man's hand? Sort of a 'it belongs to the dead realm' kind of thing. That would be a good twist, even for those who are already aware of a Hand's supposed powers.

Now that I've let you in on some of my thought processes, I must continue on my story!

Be well, and may your days be good and long upon this Earth.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dark Worlds, Tarzan, and Conan, and the Tales of Biturian Varosh

25 APRIl 2020

First off, I hope everyone is safe and well in this time of Pandemic and social distancing.

Secondly, I haven't been posting very often recently. There are several blog posts built up, waiting to happen in the queue, life has just been rather upended lately! Not all in a bad way, which is good news, but still, time and energy to post has not been there. That said, it's Saturday, things are a little slower now that a busy night of torrential rain, tornado-strength winds, paparazzi lightning, and hail the size of quarters is over. We walked around and inspected for damage. All minor stuff. So, now time to relax a bit and get caught up on other things.

I read an interesting article over at Dark Worlds. It detailed a loose comparison between the characters Tarzan and Conan. 

I've never really thought of Tarzan and Conan in the same breath. To me they are totally different characters in different worlds. Yeah, okay, both savage, both strong men, both 'Kings', one of the jungle, and the other only at times. Thinking on it now, there are plenty of stories to write where their two worlds intersect, which is a very interesting thought as a writer. Maybe Conan has to find an ancient temple taken over by the jungle (not like that story has been done a million times), or Tarzan needed to venture out of the jungle for some reason and bumps into Conan. Presumably the character in his element would be the Alpha, but some interesting ideas arise from the pairing of the two. 

The article showcased a bunch of comic book covers from ages past, mostly from Conan comics. I remember reading one of the issues shown, Conan the Barbarian's #113 "Satan had a Son" issue, many moons ago. 

As you can see from the cover, the young 'man' in the bottom right is actually trying to protect the 'beast' that Conan is attacking! Why would he do that?

The story reminded me obliquely of "The Travels of Biturian Varosh" in the wonderful Glorantha role-playing Cults of Prax supplement (the entire original supplement can be downloaded here, but one should really purchase the expanded version including forty religions originally printed in Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror, and Trollpak here). Great for gaming and just for fantasy inspiration. 

The Travels were a series of short vignettes to help describe interactions between the cults detailed in the supplement. In there, a young, animalistic child named Morak is returned to his kind, sort of. A towering half-man, half-bull creature takes him as his own. I always liked the feel of this wild-child finding where he belongs, where his acting out and odd body bits were seen as the norm.

To end this post, here is one entry from The Travels of Biturian Varosh as an example of the wonderful fantasy elements in there:

"Three days out of Pimper's Block, the head of my baboon escort came to me and asked if he and his followers might retire to a ruin nearby to celebrate an ancient ritual of theirs. I said that I did not hire them to do rituals but to protect my mules. He replied that I could watch if I wished, since he trusted me, and that they would work for me for a week for free if I allowed them to celebrate. 

-Baboons requesting a short stop in order to worship. Biturian Varosh is on the horse, Norayeep the slave girl is standing next to him. Morak, Norayeep's half-brother, is not pictured. [picture can be purchased here]

They [the baboons] began by making a huge fire from rubble wood. One of them, whom I had thought to be a bearer, proved himself a shaman and threw something into the fire. The flames answered by spitting out a burst of green coals which burrowed into the ground where they hit. No one paid attention to them. By nightfall the flames had died, leaving only a heap of ashes and embers. The baboons growled and snarled in their beast speech, and set unlit torches about as wards. The leader asked if I would bless the ground, and I did. Some drank strong drink from gourds while others were sober. All of them smeared their fur with ashes. They began a twirling dance, clashing weapons and falling to the ground to wail like babies. Then two masked baboons appeared on the far side of the ash pile from me. One mask was red, and its wearer held a snake-tail rattle. The other was yellow, and held a staff surmounted by animal horns. These two acted out the ritual of the baboons' survival during the Great Darkness. They claim that Daka Fal went to them first in that awful period, and that all human worship was learned from baboons in the Dark. Their yowling dance reenacted that god's teachings to the Initiates who were present. I could not tell which was supposed to be Daka Fal and which was the baboon Founder. As it progressed, I noticed with surprise that the number of baboons had grown, and I realized that many spirits now were among the group, greedily looking upon the world they had left, mixing like friends among those still alive. Lust for a body was in them. Suddenly I saw the red-masked baboon seized and torn to shreds! The others, the living, panicked and fled behind the other masked creature. Yellow Mask screamed words of power, and all the spirits were forced to hover where the green stones had buried themselves earlier. Yellow Mask chittered to the baboons behind him, then went to the dead Red Mask and touched him in several places. Red Mask, whom I had seen torn limb from limb, sprang up alive again, screaming in triumph. All the others yelled too, and beat their chests in ragged victory until the sun came up. Two of them dug up something and ate it. The shaman, who had been wearing the red mask, dug also, and brought me a nut of a type I never had seen. He indicated I must eat it to get one use of the cult spell Summon Ancestor. Such was the magic of the baboons which I saw." - from The Travels of Biturian Varosh, in Cults of Prax ©2016 Chaosium Inc.


Awesome stuff. Makes the mind wander...
Be safe, and may your days be good and long upon this Earth.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Craigslist Killers

15 Mar 2020

Another short story is out! The Craigslist Killers is now available from Amazon. The Craigslist Killers makes my fifth book baby delivered to the world and marks the first urban, police procedural, slightly romance-y story I've written to date. It is priced at 99 cents, the same as all my other short stories. Just imagine, you could splurge and get all five stories for less than five bucks! 

A much shorter version of the story was released as “The Symbol & the Ring” in the Summer: Magic & Mayhem Anthology from Wolfsinger Publications, June 20, 2016. For those unfamiliar, Wolfsinger Publications is a one-woman show that deserves all the love. She hasn't been as active lately, but she used to produce some great things.

While getting the killers ready for publication, I went back to one of my previous releases (Black Char & the Crystal Caves). It was great to read the additional material I added for release. Black Char has a preface, to assist the reader in enjoying the story. Here it is: 

THE WORLD OF BLACK CHAR IS SOMETHING ELSE, a break from our ordinary, everyday world and a deep dive into the different.

He lives on the fringes of a fantastical world ruled by magic and mayhem, a world of wonder where anything is possible. Not to give anything away, but there are caves of magical crystals! And what is found in the depths will hopefully delight, amuse, and slightly confuse you. All will not be explained. Leaving the reader’s imagination working overtime is one of my goals. Bear with me though, because all mysteries will eventually be brought to light. If not here, then in another tale.

So, those brave enough, come take a leap into the waters of my mind. Swim far away from the comfortable shore.

I look forward to getting back into the fantasy world of Black Char and Sea Dog from Pirates & Demons.

The Killers has a Thanks & Author's note section, which gives some more insight to the background of the story. No real preface needed because the story takes place in Los Angeles, not some mythical realm, though I can see how some people might confuse what happens in Los Angeles as stuff that only happens in magical places. I also recognized the contributions of a couple of really cool people, my wife Cheryl and my editor-in-friend Dave Owens, who several of you should be familiar with. 

Here is an excerpt from The Craigslist Killers. Hope you enjoy it!

With distractions out of the way, she focused on the doorframe. Tally marks were short, probably done by a left-hander from the angles. She fixated on the circled symbol. At first glance it reminded her of a patch written in Arabic or some design work. Done with the same marker and the same hand as the tallies. The border of the design was well done, a perfect circle about three inches across. The symbol inside the circle, well, there she had no idea at all. From the upper left quarter of the circle, it began as a short straight line, then curved around like those open-heart jewelry pieces they advertise on TV, and finished with small circles at the end of two points. Her eyes crossed uncontrollably. She shook her head and stared. For a second she thought the pattern shifted, wriggled like a worm on a hook. She blinked and the black marks froze in place, or had she imagined it? What could it mean? She held up her hand and reached out to trace the symbol in the air, trying to decipher its meaning. Well, she would take some pictures of it and then…she froze.

Her ring was glowing. Her grandmother’s gold hand-me-down thing was glowing, plain as day.

Not a bright glow, but enough to rattle her. She fanned her fingers slowly, careful not to disturb whatever was happening. The light warmed her soul, like the afterglow from the setting sun of a perfect day that makes you feel relaxed and mellow. Carol raised her hand and turned toward the open front door. A shout to Dave died in her throat as the glow dimmed. A second later and the light was gone, the ring once again just a hunk of metal.

She frowned.

What happens next? Go on intrepid reader, and spend less than a buck to find out! Get your copy of The Craigslist Killers today!

p.s. While I was writing, Dave pointed out that there were people who used Craigslist to kill people. The story that I wrote has nothing to do with them. This is a work of true fiction. If you're interested about the real-life Craigslist Killers, click here and here.