Monday, March 23, 2020

Horror Flash Fiction - Flash of Fear - Jack-O-Lanterns

A new Flash of Fear installment, this time a reading of a piece that appeared first here on the blog.

More readings here

This story and more short horror and mystery tales are found in the ebook Scars and Candy from Crossroad Press also.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Anthology - Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse Cover Reveal

cat ladies book cover - badass post apocalyptic and dystopian heroines in regalia

I'm happy to present the cover art for the upcoming anthology Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse.

Plans for this collection edited by Lyn Worthen began last fall, and that's when I wrote my story, "The Witch of Washington Park." Who knew? The Doomsday Clock from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was set at two minutes to midnight.

In January 2020, it moved up thirty seconds, to a minute and a half.

Visit the Camden Park Press Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse page

The submission call read "It’s time to turn the `man and his dog wandering through a dystopian world' trope on its head..."

I wasn't sure at first what I'd do with that. I began with the notion of a former scientist, her name's Cassandra, making her way through a deserted city and finding a frightened boy holding a cat.

She was working to establish a bit of an oasis where food could be safely grown in an urban environment. Most of the world outside, a landscape ravaged by climate and nuclear disasters, but she and her cat named Midnight were holding on.

She'd grown despondent, however. Taking care of the boy, naming his cat Raven, offering him bits of culture and history while teaching him about agriculture began to give her new life.

Yet threats loom, threats always loom.

As always when a story takes off, the writing experience was exhilarating.

The collection includes many other great tales. Cats that eat zombies. Badass librarians, cat ladies battling something like Cthulhu and much more. It's arriving soon, so keep watching your favorite bookseller's site.

See also: Quoth the Raven featuring my story, "A Cooler of Craft Brew."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Witch of Washington Park,

I'm excited to announce my 8,000-word story, "The Witch of Washington Park," will be included in the upcoming Camden Park Press anthology Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse edited by Lyn Worthen. Think of it as the flip side of A Boy and His Dog.

The story's set in a future where cataclysmic events have created a wasteland beset by predators of human and animal form alike. Of course.

My heroine, Cassandra, once a scientist, is at work attempting to prepare an urban setting to become an agricultural oasis amid the gloom of a post-apocalyptic world, but she's in danger of giving way to despair. Until she finds a young boy who needs her care.

Nothing's easy for them, of course, and the big threat's in the form of... Well, read it and see.

This story was great fun to write. I'd been wanting to do a little more in the science fiction or speculative fiction realm. The title of the anthology really sparked my imagination.

I'll post links when preorder information becomes available. Probably coming about mid-March 2020.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Flash of Fear - Pilgrim Crime Story Reading

Don't know that I'll be maintaining a weekly pace for these, but here's a new installment in my little Flash of Fear series of readings for You Tube.

This time around it's a crime story with horror elements that originally appeared in Heater magazine. It's a dark little tale of a detective called to a brutal crime scene.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Flash of Fear - Custom Scent - Horror Flash Fiction

I'd been meaning to develop some content for You Tube for a while. With me reading, very brief pieces seem to be the best idea.

This is a bit of flash fiction that appeared first in Sanitarium magazine No. 46. It was kind of fun. Maybe I'll do more.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Love Among the Thorns - A Gothic and Paranormal Romance Anthology Featuring Novelette Strake Hall

I'm excited to be part of the new anthology Love Among the Thorns, a collection of paranormal and Gothic romance stories.

My tale is the 10,000-word "Strake Hall," the story of Aleda Garson, an American archivist who takes on the job of organizing the document collection amassed at a towering castle in the English-Scottish borderlands. It's a daunting task, but she soon discovers a connection with the businessman she's working for, Aaran Strake. He's devoted to bringing the dream of his late father to life, keeping Strake Hall in the hands of the Strake family.

Howling winds, other strangeness and the beautiful financial consultant all threaten to upset any blossoming relationship, however.

There's something cold and frightening at the heart of Strake Hall. Can Aleda uncover secrets amid decaying parchment and crumbling stone in time to rescue a blossoming romance and perhaps even save lives?

Full list of contributors:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Lisa Mangum
J.L Madore
Olivette Devaux
Tami Veldura
Gayle Ann Williams
Melanie Cossey
Jadelynn Asher
Michele Dean
C.J. Mattison
Sidney Williams

Thursday, November 28, 2019

RIP Oliver Littlechap AKA Oliver Orange Cat AKA Sad Orange Kitty

I wasn't the biggest Game of Thrones fan, but I was engaged enough to keep up with it and certainly to feel the elation in Arya Stark's great moment as she restated the caveat from her childhood in a final episode.

What do we say to the God of Death?  

"There is only one thing we say to death. Not today."

For the past several months, that's been on my mind as Oliver Littlechap showed signs of decline. 

He was the third of four cats who came into our lives beginning in the late nineties. He arrived in 2005, was hanging out with some other neighborhood cats.  I was on my back porch slipping a treat to a neighbor's cat I had a bit of a relationship with and feared wasn't well cared for. 

When Oliver saw a treat, he wandered my way and looked at me hopefully. My first thought was to shoo him away, but he had a look that later earned him the nickname Sad Orange Kitty, and I'm a softy. Over a period of weeks after that, he worked his way into our lives without trying. He was an outdoor cat a while. Then an indoor-outdoor then...

He became the last feline standing a couple of years ago when Ash aka Ashley passed away following the deaths of our original cats Monty and Daisy. "It's his time to be the only cat," we said. "His time." He'd earned his spot at the center of our attention and our world. 

We'd long battled allergies with Ollie. He was FIV positive and we struggled most to control rhinitis, but when antibiotics did their work, even as recently as January, he'd sprint around the house and bounce from windowsill to furniture. 

More recently, other signs of decline had arisen, most notably weight loss. We'd had discussion. The day will come...

Yet we managed his symptoms and saw great days for him. He climbed into moving boxes and supervised as I prepared for our furniture for a move from Orlando to Williamsburg.

When he joined Christine in our new apartment, he was doing so well she feared he'd draw the ire of neighbors as he strolled through the place caterwauling.

That energy faded a bit, but he remained affectionate and close.

A while back, he climbed onto the sofa with me and I realized his pupils were unnaturally large. I knew from our other cats that meant a blood pressure spike. As with all things of that nature, something's causing it.

But what do we say to the God of Death? 

I took him to the vet and got him started on blood pressure medicine, and we got retinal reattachment that restored a good bit of vision for him in spite of those strained pupils. 

Then there was weight loss. The vet okayed Fancy Feast a couple of months back, and he ate joyously and we fed him freely. 

He also regularly took his place on my desk, my lap or at my side waiting to have his fur brushed, and all in all, he felt good. He slept occasionally on Christine's pillow. 

Last Christmas.
But nature will have its way in spite of all the management you do, and in spite of all the "not today" admonishments.

I went downstairs yesterday to find him lying on his side. He'd sleep that way sometimes, but I sensed something wasn't quite right. He didn't rise to wait at the edge of the kitchen for his breakfast.

At first I thought he wouldn't awake at all, but then I realized he was experiencing some distress, that he was weak. I thought it might be low blood pressure, so I fixed some Fancy Feast and helped him sit up. He devoured it. I remembered with a bit of guilt the time I considered shooing him. At least now, one of the last things I could do for him was give him food, food he enjoyed.

But he couldn't manage to keep himself upright. Christine and I got him on a cushion between us and kept him comfortable. I answered messages and emails, waiting until I could call the vet. Who knew Facebook battles could  be a bromide?

It kept my mind busy and off the inevitable. In a way I didn't want the vet's phones to kick over from the answering service to the receptionist, but the time had to come. I asked to bring him in. They said come on. Back of your mind, you think, maybe there's a shot, an IV drip, a pill.

And eventually the vet--a very sweet lady who'd traded off on his care with his primary veterinarian--eventually the vet--though not in so many words, though not wanting to step in for the God of Death said--Today.

He was fading by then, but she gave us a blanket, and we sat across from a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the Brother Sun, Sister Moon saint. The Brother Dog, Sister Cat guy. The patron saint of nature and animals and little cats.

We sat with Oliver on both our laps and stroked his fur like we did on a thousand nights as we read or watched TV. 

Then he quietly left us. But we sat for a while.

Stroking his fur. Touching his head, remembering. Feeling sad but also thankful that he had been in our lives and part of lives for such a long, long time.

An early Oliver memory

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Wane - a poem


Leaves take on new beauty:
Harbinger of demise.
Verdant energy fades.
Edges curl.
Ribs show.
Essence crumbles
To brown fragments:
Remains and companions
To the memory of the green,
The love of the whole.

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