Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vampires come in all shapes and sizes...

Day five of my Ten Excerpts in Ten Days brings us to my story, Interview With The Barber. A mainstay of the dark fantasy and horror tales through the centuries has been the legend of the vampire -- immortals who feed on human blood to maintain their own lives.

We've seen evil vampires, funny vampires, even sparkly vampires, but I daresay you've not seen one like Robert Presley. And you can read the full tale Interview With The Barber in my collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, on sale now for just 99 cents.

And now, from Interview With The Barber...

I decided the only way to figure out what was going on was to do a little spying. I drove by the shop Friday night long after Presley had closed and gone home. I checked around the building in the dark with my cheap key chain flashlight and found two small windows in the back, completely hidden by two overgrown bushes.

The next night – Presley keeps his shop open late on Saturdays – I parked at an abandoned grocery store a mile down the road and walked to his shop as dusk fell. It was dark by the time I reached his place, so I snuck between a few cars parked in the lot then slipped around the building. I ducked in between the bushes and peered through the windows.

For the next hour I watched Presley cutting away, a seemingly permanent half-smile on his face, his mouth moving with his idle barbershop conversation. I couldn't hear him, but I was sure he was telling more of his jokes and stories, relating the town gossip some of his customers from earlier in the day had told him.

Another half-hour passed and there were just two people left with Presley – an old gruff of a man with a bushy gray beard, dressed in dirty overalls, was climbing into the barber's chair and a younger man, probably my age, was sitting in the waiting section flipping through a magazine.

The old guy sat in the chair, Presley decked him out in the barber's apron and started cutting away at his hair, his mouth moving in what was no doubt a monotonous litany of meaningless chit-chat. I prepared to leave, disgusted with myself for having wasted the evening. Then it happened.

Presley stepped away from the old guy, put his clippers and comb on the shelf and then stepped back to the chair. The old man never moved. The young guy sat still, the magazine slipping from his hands to the floor. He made no move to retrieve it.

Presley stood with his arms by his sides. His mouth twitched, his whole face convulsed. His mouth stretched wider than humanly possible, his lower lip peeled back, and two giant insect-like mandibles protruded through his gums, growing upward over his top lip, giving his lower face a bug-like appearance.

Presley leaned over the old man, moved the beard aside and slid the two mandibles through the man's skin, into his neck. I lost track of time, watching as Presley drank the man’s blood. He stood, pulled a tissue from his pocket, dabbed a little blood from the man's neck and let the man's beard fall back into place. He stepped toward the young man in the waiting chair. I wanted to scream, to smash through the windows and warn the man, but I watched. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to glance at my watch this time, just as Presley began draining the blood from his second victim. When he finished I looked at the watch again – it seemed as if he had been there long enough to drain the man dry, but he had been drinking the victim's blood for less than ten minutes.

Presley again pulled the tissue from his pocket, dabbed at the man's neck, then bent over, picked up the magazine and placed it in the man's hands. Presley walked back to his shelf, picked up his hair-cutting utensils and turned back to the room. When he did his face had returned to normal – the round, full, flushed face of a man who had just fed. He walked to the bearded man, began snipping at his hair, his mouth moving again, no doubt with more gossip. A minute later the bearded man was talking, the young man flipping the magazine pages.

I sat on the cool, barren patch of dirt under the bush, not sure what to do.

What could I do? No one would believe me if I tried to tell what I'd seen. I had to confront Presley. Tell him I knew what he was. I would do it Monday.

I slept little that night and the next. I was nervous about confronting him, afraid to fall asleep, some little fear deep inside me said he already knew what I had seen, that he'd burst through the door to my apartment any moment. He never did, but by Monday I was exhausted from thinking, and worrying, about it all weekend. It took all the concentration I could muster to get through the day.

After work I drove to Presley's barbershop. Standing outside the door I checked through my coat pockets for what must have been the fiftieth time to make sure I had everything. I took a deep breath, opened the door and stepped in. He was sitting in his own barber’s chair, alone, looking as if he expected my visit.

“Back so soon? I must not be cuttin’ your hair short enough.” He chuckled as he spoke, a laugh that once seemed a simple country chortle. Now my skin crawled at the sound.

“I’m not here for a haircut,” I said, my mouth dry, my voice quivering.

Presley stood, stepped to the side of the chair and patted the brown vinyl cover.

“Climb on up and–”

“No!” I screamed, cutting him off in mid-sentence.

He grew quiet. I paused, not sure what to do next. Presley stepped back in front of his chair, slowly sat down and smiled broadly.

“Well, then, what can I do for you?” he asked.

I waited, still not sure what to say. I jerked my hand from my coat pocket, a small crucifix held clenched in my fist.

“I know what you are,” I said, my voice little more than a whisper. I stretched my arm in front of me and stepped toward Presley. “I know what you are,” I repeated, my voice stronger.

The smile faded from Presley’s face. He stared at me, a blank stare like that of a corpse with its eyes still open. The shop grew quieter. Even the traffic from the highway outside faded, the only sound that of my breathing.

Presley burst out laughing. Not the country-boy chuckle I’d come to know over the past several weeks, but a hard-edged soulless laugh.

The sound startled me. I flinched, then stiffened in a show of false bravado.

Presley laughed harder, tears welling in his eyes. He reached out and brought his hand down over top of the crucifix, pulling it from my hand. “And just what do you think I am?”

To read the rest of Interview with the Barber, and to get the entire collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, for just 99 cents, for your Kindle go here. To download to your Nook go here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Hearse, AND a special offer for National Short Story Month

Day three of Ten Days of Horror, excerpts from my dark fantasy and horror collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES. Today's excerpt is from my short story, The Hearse.

As a BONUS for the final three days of May, to mark the end of National Short Story Month, I'm offering my collection for just 99 cents! That's only one-third of the normal price for a collection that has twice ranked in the Amazon Top 100 Dark Fantasy best seller list -- yours for just 99 cents.

And now, an excerpt from The Hearse.
The story is part of Rylan was fantasizing about sleep when he glanced in his rearview mirror. His gaze locked on what he saw there. Two headlights, roughly fifty yards away, he guessed. Behind the headlights was the outline of a hearse. From this distance, in the dead of the night, Rylan knew he shouldn’t be able to make out anything behind the headlights. But the hearse was clearly visible. It was black. All hearses are black. An odd bluish glow enveloped the vehicle, bringing out details that should not have been visible....

...Rylan glared nervously at the mirror, the sleep that had been dancing at the edges of his mind now gone. Rylan glanced at the speedometer – sixty-five. He nudged the cruise control a bit until the speedometer read seventy, then looked back at the mirror. The hearse matched his speed, staying the same distance behind.

He tapped the cruise control button twice more, pushing the speed to seventy-five. He kept his eyes on the road ahead, too scared to look in the mirror. Finally, after several minutes he did glance at the mirror. The hearse was still there, keeping pace.

Rylan mashed the accelerator. The speedometer shot up, past eighty, past ninety. Rylan knew there was a good chance he would trip some state trooper’s radar, end up with a ticket, feeling silly that he had let a simple hearse spook him. He didn’t care. Feeling silly explaining all this to a cop would be a relief. The speedometer passed ninety-five, inched close to one hundred.

Rylan kept his eyes on the road ahead of him, as nervous about driving at this speed as he was about the hearse tailing him. He glanced at the dashboard clock – one forty-five. He kept driving, his focus on the road ahead, not wanting to look in the mirror until he’d left the hearse behind. He drove and glanced at the clock, repeating the process as the clock ticked off one minute, then two, three, four, five. Another minute later Rylan could stand it no longer. He looked in the mirror.

Still roughly fifty yards behind the hearse followed.

“Damn,” Rylan whispered.

He lifted his foot from the accelerator and gently pressed the brake. The speedometer dropped – eighty, seventy, sixty, fifty. Rylan looked in the mirror. The hearse slowed, keeping the same distance between them.

Rylan mashed the accelerator again, quickly reaching eighty. He saw an exit sign ahead. At the last second he turned onto the off ramp, too fast for the curvy exit. Rylan slammed on his brakes. The rear of the car slid to the left; Rylan turned into the slide. The car fishtailed the other way; Rylan turned the steering wheel furiously the opposite direction. The car began to swing back, but by now had slowed enough for Rylan to straighten it up. Back in control, he glanced in the mirror.

Driving along the exit ramp, minus all the highway contortions Rylan and his car had just exhibited, was the hearse. ...

To read the rest of The Hearse, along with my novella The Alchemist and nine other dark tales, download THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES -- for just 99 cents today through May 31. To download to your Kindle, click here. To download to your Nook, click here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother's Last Wish...

Day two of Ten Days of Excerpts from my collection, THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES.

Today's excerpt, from the story Mother's Last Wish, examines what is ultimately the worst horror for us all -- death -- and how the world might be different if we could avoid dying. If everyone could avoid death.


A high-pitched hum, worse than any alarm clock, invaded his sleep. Sonny woke, the fading light of dusk adding a melancholy mood to the room, and remembered he was alone, in his mother’s bed.

The hum grew louder. Sonny sat, glancing around for its source.

Lying on the bed next to him the music box vibrated with the hum, a pulsing pink light surrounding it.

Eyes wide, heart hammering, Sonny scrambled across the bed, away from the light and sound.

The glow drifted up from the box, formed a small globe of light floating next to the bed. It changed from pink to yellow, then red, followed by purple, brightening with each change, the hum growing louder. The light expanded to the size of a basketball, turned white, so brilliant Sonny closed his eyes. He placed his hands over his ears, shielding them from the loud, piercing whine emanating from the light.

He screamed. The whine grew so loud he could not hear his own voice, the light so bright his eyes burned, even while closed.

“No,” he called.

It stopped.

Sonny took his hands from his ears and peeked through partially-open eyelids.

Standing in the bedroom was a woman, dressed in a sheer, billowing emerald green robe, a soft white glow surrounding her.
Sonny’s eyes snapped open, breath caught in his throat.

Gorgeous was the word that popped in his head.

The woman was tall, at least equal to Sonny’s five-foot-nine frame, and slender. Red hair fell in loose curls around a lightly freckled face. Her eyes glowed bright and green. She smiled, lips full and red, teeth brilliant white.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Anu,” she said, her voice musical in quality.

“What do you want?”

“I want nothing, dear boy.” Anu cupped Sonny’s face, her touch warm, intoxicating. “I come to fulfill your mother’s wish.”

“I don’t understand. My mother?” Speaking of his mother sent a wave of fresh, raw grief over Sonny. Tears welled in his eyes.

“Come,” she said, pulling Sonny toward her, resting his head on her chest, stroking slender fingers through his hair. Her touch brought memories of his mother, running her fingers through his hair while he was a boy. He sobbed. Anu put her arms around him, rocked gently until his cries faded.

“Your mother loved you very much. You did not know at the time, but you gave her a very special gift. The music box you presented to her is older than you can know. It holds my spirit, and the family which owns it three wishes I must grant.”

“Three wishes?”

“Yes. Over many centuries I have granted wishes – victory in battles, riches beyond measure, long life. But your mother simply asked for two things.”

Sonny pulled away, looked into Anu’s eyes.


“Do you remember buying the music box with your father?”


“Do you remember where you bought it?”

“At a thrift store, because we couldn’t afford to shop anywhere else.”

“Yes. You were very ill. Your parents put all their money into doctor visits, drugs, hoping desperately to find a cure. You were dying, and there was nothing any healer could do. When I revealed myself to your mother, she wished for your health, and it was given back to you.”

“The second wish?”

“She held onto that until you went away to study. She wished simply for your success.”

Sonny reflected on his life. He had been successful, more than he had dared dream when he left for college. Studies came easily, unnaturally so, and after college more job offers than he could have imagined. He took what he believed to be the best, advanced quickly, soon found himself in the upper management of the firm, enough money to buy anything, to go anywhere.

He lavished his mother with vacations, gifts, cars, but she had never wanted to move from the simple house where he had grown up, so they remained.

Some said he seemed to live a charmed life. Now he understood why.

“The third wish?”

“She saved that for you. She set me free to roam the world, the only condition I return upon her passing, grant you the final wish.”

Sonny rubbed his eyes, leaned and rested his elbows on his knees.

“Anything I want?”

“Yes, my boy, but please do not ask me to bring your mother back?”

He stood, voice tinged with anger.

“You said anything. Any wish.”

“If that is your wish, I can restore life to your mother’s corpse, but it will not be her. She has passed to another world, across a great chasm I cannot cross. Raise her body? That I can do, but her soul will be gone. She will be gone.”

Sonny turned, paced across the room, hands atop his head. He whirled back to face Anu.

“Why do you torment me? You offer me a wish, yet tell me the one thing I desire I cannot have.”

Anu said nothing. Sonny stared, again struck by her simple beauty.

“No more death,” he said.

“Is that truly your wish?”

“Yes. Never again should anyone face grief. No more death. Ever.”

“It is so.”


For more of Mother's Last Wish and the entire collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, click here to download to your Kindle, or here to download to your Nook.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Mother's Love

Well, I'm a couple of days late with this (and I'm almost always more than a few dollars short), but today I'm starting ten straight days of excerpts, a different one from each of my stories in the collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES.

Today's dark treat comes from my story, A MOTHER'S LOVE, and takes a look at just how far a mother will go to save every child should be saved.


Amy Jennings stands on her front lawn, staring into the empty street. Fog-shrouded street lamps cast a ghostly pallor over the neighborhood. Amy shivers. She is clad only in a nightgown and her husband’s trench coat, which gives scant warmth. Memories — pushing Adam on the swing, playing tag with her little boy and her husband, picnicking on the back deck — swirl through her mind like leaves stirred by the late night breeze. Recollections of a time now gone, taken under cover of night.

Behind her activity fills the lawn, the house. Men in uniforms search, those in suits and ties talk with her husband, with neighbors. She hears them, noises meant to show activity, attention, though the results will be nil.

Amy knows this. She’s been there, in her own detective clothes. We will do everything possible. We have every available person working this case. We have a nationwide alert out, his description sent to every law enforcement agency in the country. We’ve had good success. We are hopeful.

She has recited the statements a hundred times over — Amy’s worked half the childhood kidnappings in the Mid-west over the past decade -- and she's well practiced at the empty words that leave the promise of hope while making no commitments, no hints at the truth.

Your child is gone. Unless we’re lucky, you’ll never see him again. His fate is sealed. Tonight, maybe next week, perhaps in a month, he will die. And it won’t go easy.

That’s what Amy thinks every time she mouths the words of cautioned hope. Those are the thoughts behind the practiced, non-committal statements the men and women give tonight.

Amy walks across the wet grass. Fear flashes through her. Terror. Panic. He was here, on this spot. Amy falls to the ground, her hands tracing the path of horror, Adam’s emotions still alive, traceable, as clear to her as a trail of blood. She’s felt this before. Her “gift” everyone calls it. The ability has made her a kidnapping specialist, not because of her powers of observation or ability to out-think criminals, but simply because Amy can feel the emotions of those who have been taken, track their movements.

Tonight is different. Her stomach knots, the taste of bile seeps into her mouth. No professional detachment, just a battle to hold her emotions in check.

Amy climbs to her feet and marches by the men and women in uniform, the detectives in the living room, ignoring the “Mrs. Jennings,” and “Are you okay?” Fifteen minutes later Amy pulls from her garage, stopping only because one of the uniforms stands in her way. She recognizes him as the shift captain.

“Amy, where are you going?”


“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Am I under suspicion?”

“Should you be?”

“Captain, step away from the car. I’m leaving.”

“The FBI response team will be here momentaril—”

“I’m a member of the goddamned response team, remember? I’m the one who leads them to the …” She cannot finish the sentence. “Get away from the car.” Amy mashes the accelerator. On the street, even with the car between her and the pavement, she still feels it, like an ache in bones. Terror. Dread.


To read the rest of A MOTHER'S LOVE, and the full collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, click here for your Kindle or here for your Nook.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A teacher under attack.....

An excerpt from my novella, THE ALCHEMIST, part of THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, a top 40 Amazon Hot New Release:

For three nights Denny Harris experienced a consuming fire inside him, a yearning to strike out hard, to stop this rolling force of evil he had witnessed spreading through the children who walked into his school.

Twenty-one years ago it was the odd one who was a trouble maker. Fifteen years ago it was the hippies and druggies. More of them, but most kids were still good and decent. Now things had changed. Too much bad. Too little good. He felt like exploding in frustration at not knowing what to do. The one thing he knew was that he could rid the world of Jackie Pugh.

The day Jackie returned to school lumbered agonizingly slow. Denny mostly assigned classroom reading, then paced the floor, nervous energy building with each step.

The final bell rang. Kids clamored from classrooms, opened and shut lockers, yelled in the hallway. To Denny it was background noise, barely perceptible above the slushing of his blood pumping through his body.

The school grew quiet.

Denny stepped from his classroom.

At the other end of the hall stood Jackie. He was flanked by two others, a boy who looked about Jackie’s age, and a girl. Denny recognized her as Donna Obenshain. Two years ago she was a nice kid. She worked hard, played sports. Now she wore Doc Martens and fishnet stockings, a short leather skirt and a torn black t-shirt, with a small chain looped around her waist. Donna’s hair was spiked, liked Denny’s, only much longer so that the ends turned down. Her hair was mostly pink with a bit of natural blond showing. The boy, Roger something or other. Except for his hair being all black, Roger and Jackie could have been twins.

Jackie stepped forward, followed by the other two. He pulled a chain from his jacket and wrapped it around his hand as he approached.

Denny walked straight at them. Within seconds he and Jackie stood face to face. The other two flanked the teacher.

“Uh oh,” Jackie said. “Looks like teach is in a bit of trouble.”

“You’ll need more than these two,” Denny replied.

Denny’s vision exploded into bursting stars, hurt rolling across his head as Roger smashed his fist into the teacher’s temple.

Jackie slammed his chain-covered fist into Denny’s cheek. The skin split and blood spurted from Denny’s face. Donna kicked him in the stomach, pushed him to the floor, then the three of them stomped wherever they could lay a foot -- head, shoulder, back, leg.
Denny’s vision faded. He felt unconsciousness creeping through his body.

No. This will not happen.

Denny roared as he sprung to his feet. He backhanded Donna and she sprawled across the hard tile floor. The chain had come loose from Jackie’s fist during the struggle and now it flapped against Denny with each punch. He grabbed the end and jerked, the movement catching Jackie by surprise. Jackie lurched forward and fell against the teacher as Denny yanked the chain. Denny shoved the heel of his hand against Jackie’s chin. The teen stumbled backward and fell.

Denny whirled to face Roger, pointing at the teen with outstretched hand.

“Fenestra. Fenestra Fragosus,” he cried.

Roger catapulted through the air and crashed headfirst into the window. His body came to rest draped over the bottom of the frame, head and torso hanging inside the building, legs hanging outside. Jagged cuts lined Roger’s face, a piece of glass protruded from his neck. His body convulsed.

“What the fuck did you do?” Donna screamed. She ran to Roger.

“You’re dead, now,” Jackie said. He stood and circled Denny until he was next to Donna.

Denny raised his hands, palms facing his attackers, and chanted “Quietum! Abi in malam rem. Commoror. Aeternus a um.”
Their bodies began fading into nothingness. Denny heard gurgling noises from Roger. Donna screamed. Jackie stared at the teacher, and an old saying from his youth -- If looks could kill -- came to mind, then the three were gone.


For the complete novella, and nine more dark (and maybe thought-provoking) tales, download here for your Kindle, and right here for you Nook.

Until midnight, Saturday, May 18 the collection is on sale for just 99 cents!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A week-long Mother's Day special

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm putting all my novel-length works on sale this week.

Beginning on on Saturday, May 11 and lasting until Saturday, May 18, my novella and short story collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES will be on sale for just 99 cents -- that's a full 67 percent off the normal price.

My inspirational/religious novel written under my pen name John Peter Blankenship, CHOICES, will also be 99 cents -- again a full 67 percent off regular price. And yes, I know, that's an odd combination for a writer -- a horror collection and an inspirational novel. See my post, Can a Horror Guy do Inspirational/Religious Writing from December to see how I managed to do that.

My romance thriller, CLAIMING MOON, is on sale for $1.99, a full 50 percent off the normal price.

What are the books about?

THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES is, as I mentioned, a collection of stories. Some are reprints of work I've had published in such fine markets as Horror Library Vol. 1 and the Stoker-nominated Horror Library Vol. 3; Dark Recesses (sadly, now defunct); Midnight Echo; Night Terrors 2; and elsewhere. Some of the works have never been published before.

The centerpiece is my novella THE ALCHEMIST. Here's a little synopsis of that tale and others:

Every day they file into our nation’s schools – tens of thousands of children, and teens – innocent, bright-eyed, looking forward to their future. But something is wrong in our nation. Bullies ruin lives. Killers sometimes walk those halls. The Good Old Golden Rule Days seem to be a thing of the past.

What if you could stop the violence, protect the innocent? What if you had the ability to separate the good from the bad, the innocent from the evil – like the alchemist of olden days, who could seemingly fuse a strange, dark magic with everyday items and make something new and precious?

Would you use this power? Could you control it?

Denny Harris possesses what we all wish we had – the ability to help those in need, the power to protect the weak.

As a high school teacher he is uniquely positioned to use his gift. In the classroom he sees the worst in humanity – drug users, bullies, criminals in the making – and their hapless victims, kids who are ridiculed, stolen from, even beaten.

Descendant from an ancient race, born with the ability to harness a supernatural power for his purposes, Denny has the ability to protect the innocent, if he can tell who really needs his protection.

Easy, right? Maybe not, for sometimes life isn’t as it seems.

A lesson Denny learns too late in the novella The Alchemist.

Other stories in this collection examine issues we like to hide away in a dark corner: How strong is a mother’s love, and can a mom go too far in protecting her child? What if you could end all death in the world – would you? Are all barbers nice guys? Is eternal youth worth any price? What happens if a whole town turns out to be not quite of this world?

These and other questions are all examined in THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES.


CHOICES is a novel I wrote after several experiences over the years -- spending some time with several homeless people for a couple of articles I wrote years ago, seeing firsthand how those with plenty often run right over those with little, and watching people with a deep and strong faith in God working, daily, to live that faith and help those in need.

Here's a little bit about CHOICES:

It’s Christmas and Joey Reagan has been presented with a unique gift – the opportunity to wash away two decades of hurt, a chance to forgive the source of that pain, a shot at peace and contentment.

Accepting that present isn’t as easy as it seems. For 20 years Joey has carried the scars of abandonment, the bitterness of being left by his father and, as far as he can tell, the God his mother so devoutly worshipped.

Making choices hasn’t always been the strength of the Reagan men. Joey’s father made a series of poor decisions years ago, choices that cost a life, split their family, and left Joey with an emptiness that’s never been filled.

Now Joey has to make a few choices, and what he decides will affect his life, the woman who loves him, and a series of people he hasn’t yet met.

Can Joey overcome the past and make the right decision? That’s the question, and the answers can be found in CHOICES, a novel written under my pen name John Peter Blankenship.


And finally, my novel CLAIMING MOON. This was my testing the waters a bit as a romance and suspense writer. Along the way, I found a few characters I really liked, so I most definitely will be doing a sequel to this one. Maybe even a whole series. For now, though, CLAIMING MOON wraps up quite nicely as a self-contained story while also leaving an opening for more.

Here's a little bit about the work:

People are dying in Southwest Virginia, their bodies ripped open, a vital organ missing.

Clearwater Police Detective Frank Taliaferro has served in larger departments, advised the FBI, even worked international cases for The United Nations, but now he’s back where his career began, in the small town of Clearwater, Virginia. And he’s never seen anything like these killings.

Frank finds himself forced to participate in a charity bachelor auction as a public relations move for the police department.

Cassandra Kincaid, a rising star at the Daily Dispatch who has her sights set on moving to one of the larger dailies – New York, Washington, maybe Los Angeles – is forced into participating in the auction as a bidder so she can write a feature piece on the whole process.

Although she is none-too-fond of police, Cassandra ends up winning a date with Frank. Surprisingly, she finds the detective charming, definitely attractive, and enjoys their evening together until the date is interrupted by a gruesome murder.

That’s when things get complicated. The two find themselves drawn together in an uneasy yet passionate relationship while they both race to uncover what is behind a series of macabre murders.

Cassandra’s probing also uncovers a dark secret from Frank’s past, one that drives a wedge of mistrust between them, yet Cassandra finds she can’t get the detective out of her mind.

In the end her feelings for Frank may not matter because the two find themselves in a deadly face-off with the killer. Only then do they learn there is an ancient evil behind the grisly murders, but that discovery may be too late to save either of them.


I believe there's a little something here for every taste. Heck, you can get all three now for the normal price of CLAIMING MOON. So go ahead, buy your mom one or two, or three, of my works. Heck, buy some for yourself.

THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES is available for download to your Kindle right here and to your Nook right here. Don't have either? No problem, you can get a free Kindle reading app for use on your computer or mobile device right here.

CHOICES is available for download to your Kindle right here and to your Nook here.

CLAIMING MOON is available for your Kindle here and for your Nook here.

Thanks for stopping by, Happy Mother's Day and happy reading!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A visit to the Hot 100 New Release list during a special month

One of the challenges indie writers face is that we have to do a bit of everything. Not only do we write – the core of our endeavors – but we have to do or oversee the editing, cover design, formatting, publishing and marketing.

Sometimes, in trying to juggle so much a few things escape our notice. That has happened to me twice this week.

First, the big news. I published my novella and short story collection, THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, around the first of May. I've been doing a bit of marketing, finding a few websites and blogs willing to do reviews for me and never even noticed, until this morning, that the collection made the Amazon Hot 100 New Releases in the Science Fiction Anthologies category.

How long it's been there, or how high it actually climbed, I don't know. Like I said, I just discovered it today. But it's there!

And that seems appropriate, given the second bit of information I discovered this morning. May is National Short Story Month, so what better time for you to pick up THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES.

The collection starts with a somewhat shortish novella, then dives right in to short story after short story. All of the work is a little – okay, maybe a lot – on the dark side of life, and hopefully a little bit fun, too. I know I enjoyed writing most of the stories.

So, if you want to read a Hot New Release and maybe fill a hankering to indulge in reading a few short stories, this is the perfect time to pick up THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES. Just click on the title of the collection to order for your Kindle, or click right here for your Nook.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Alchemist & Other Dark Tales now available

What's the old standard, absolute power corrupts absolutely?

I don't know if that's entirely true, but I do believe unchecked power, even if meant for good, can have tragic consequences.

Such is the case in my novella, THE ALCHEMIST.

We have all watched in horror at news reports of school violence, read in outrage at accounts of bullies making life so miserable for their classmates that they drive some to suicide, others to lifelong depression. If you're like me, those emotions are usually followed by rage, or at the least righteous anger, generally directed at the perpetrator and those around him (or her) who did nothing to intervene.

Then again, what would we do if we were there, in the school, or the community, where these tragedies take place? What would you do?

That's the question facing Denny Harris, a teacher at Devane High School. From his position at the front of the classroom, Denny sees the worst that happens in our nation's schools -- the bullies, the thugs, the killers-in-the-making, all preying on those who are innocent, weaker, in need of protection.

Denny is also more than he seems, descendant from an ancient race of beings with the ability to harness a mystical power few know exist. Their purpose is to protect the innocent.

As Denny learns, sometimes it can be difficult to determine who truly needs that protection, and guessing wrong can have tragic consequences.

THE ALCHEMIST is a tale of supernatural horror that examines the question of who really needs our help, and how some modern efforts at addressing teen violence could be misguided. The novella is part of my collection THE ALCHEMIST & OTHER DARK TALES, now available for download to your Kindle here or for download to your Nook here.

Thanks for stopping by.