Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Kill the King

The prince raised Colter to his feet and placed a hand atop his head as if to give his servant a royal blessing. “Do it quickly,” he said, “before such damage is done that I cannot mend it in a lifetime. My father has given the nobles two days to assemble their men for his invasion of Tannin. He must be dead before those troops reach the border, or his kingdom will die shortly thereafter.”

Colter was glad the prince had not mentioned payment. You don’t kill the king for money.

Latest short story published* at Men of the West.

* Previously published in The Monster Maiden of Westering Slough.

Friday, August 24, 2018


The girl lay in the road, clothed only in dirt. Her tongue, caked with dust, pushed out of her mouth and her limbs lay twisted. The soles of her small feet were scraped raw.

Dawen, kneeling next to her, noticed that her pale skin was crisscrossed with half-healed welts and cuts. Those weren’t what killed her, Dawen thought; they were old wounds. Whatever stole her life had left behind no more than a frozen mask of fear and exhaustion; it hadn’t touched her, at least not in any place Dawen could see. She glanced up at the bystanders, seeking a face that showed something other than curiosity or dread. None of them seemed to recognize the girl any more than Dawen did...

Latest short story published* at Men of the West.

* Previously published in Huntress and Other Stories.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Sometimes dragons need a good laugh, too:
In the outlands there lived a dragon named Snarl. Snarl never received a proper dragon’s upbringing, and as a result, he was kind and gentle. Oh, the nearby farmers did not think him either of those things, because Snarl was notorious for carrying off their sheep at night. Even kind and gentle dragons must eat, after all. And though he had quite a bit of treasure for a young dragon, it had come from the hoards of other dragons or from forlorn places where the owners had hidden it. He was always careful to protect it from other dragons and could make a little treasure go a long way.
Latest short story published* at Men of the West.

* Previously published in Huntress and Other Stories.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Beggar's Choice

Sometimes beggars can be choosers:
Larvik brushed away the flakes of skin that fell like black snow upon his table. He deflected the waitress again; the pockets of his faded cloak held nothing of any use to her. If the little man arrived, Larvik would be able to pay for the mug of ale he raised to his lips. Better make this one last, he thought. It’s still early...
Latest short story has been published* at Men of the West in 3 parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Enjoy!

* Previously published in Monster Maiden of Westering Slough.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Test of His Metal

Of swords and werebears:
Dominic raised his longsword into what he hoped was a threatening stance: blade high above his left shoulder, his right elbow pointed forward. He tried to slow his breathing, lest it reveal his fear. First one foot right and then the other, he slid from the forest road, careful to avoid the fallen limbs that lay in wait just below the floor of ferns. The short man he kept in his sights, but the taller man, the one with the club, was getting behind him...
Latest short story has been published* at Men of the West in 2 parts (Part 1, Part 2).  Enjoy!

* It was previously published in LC Mortimer's Anthology Swords of Darkness, FWIW.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Zombie Paragraph

Cremation used to be against our religion. All of God's people were to receive a proper burial following the custom of Abraham, David, and Jesus. Then one night our late pastor returned with his favorite deacons in tow, ripped the church door off at the hinges, and killed old Widow Punkard while she prayed.  We cremated him for his own good as much as ours. When Jesus rose from the dead He did it right: with His mind clear and His wounds closed up tight. No one since has pulled it off half as well. So we wrote pyre into the hymnals where grave used to be, and we all sleep better for the change.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


I did not invent the Toadstone
A groan reached Kayda from the rocks to her left. She quickly scanned that area; no man was in sight, though she now knew the red hillocks held at least one she could not see. She wondered if others lay hidden among the cacti and chipped stones, if the lament was but bait in a trap laid for her. But there was no reason for such a trap: as a woman alone in this desert she posed no threat except to the stones she hunted and the cacti that quenched her persistent thirst and occasional hunger. Kayda had taken care to ensure she had been neither followed nor watched, and her confidence in her own abilities remained unshaken. No, whomever lay beyond that outcrop was unaware of her presence, at least for now. Checking that her dagger was loose and her stone-purse tight, she turned toward the sound and began to climb the barren slope.

The camp before her served one man. She could tell from the single hammock, the tiny fire, and the deep cleft in which they were hidden, that the man wished to remain unseen. He had failed in that attempt. The Tanaki lay alone, writhing near a small pile of twigs that had provided his campfire with life. She guessed that the pile had also held life less helpful. For in these deserted places dwelt serpents that could snuff a man’s life with a single bite. But the end came not before the bitten wished for death, called for death, begged death to rescue him from the flames that burned within his every joint, his every vein. The purple skin that shewed beneath the Tanaki’s hand told her that he had met one such serpent. His whimpers told her that the desert would be quiet again soon. With a quick glance behind her, she slipped over the cusp of the barren ridge and swam down the rocks into his camp.

Kayda knew that even now she could save him. Though his limbs lay twisted and his swollen tongue thrashed his cracked lips, her toadstone had pulled worse from the brink of death. Her left hand clasped her stone-purse, fingers tracing the stone’s rough corners, measuring its unnatural heat. Until his final breath, she could ensure that he lived.

She shook her head. He was Tanaki, an Other. A Tanaki was an enemy. She had not watched her brother die screaming at the bloody hands of Tanaki, had not suffered humiliation beneath the loins of Tanaki, to rescue one now. Especially one who did not respect her desert.

The Tanaki’s frantic eyes met hers, holding them, and she released the toadstone that still warmed her fingertips from beneath the leather of her purse. His eyes then rolled back, his mouth expelled a wan breath, and the Tanaki shrunk into a limp pile before her. Now it was too late anyway, she thought.

Kayda searched the Tanaki for anything of value he had carried on his final journey. His tent surrendered food enough for her to last a week in these barren lands. His copper canteen would serve her for a lifetime unless she decided to sell it. She would not sully herself with his clothing, and none would give three coppers for his hammock. But upon his swollen finger lay a silver ring, carved into a snake eating its own tail, with what she guessed were rubies for the serpent’s eyes. She grinned at the possibility that the snake upon the ring represented the same manner of serpent that had slain its owner. And as she worked it from a calloused finger and dropped it into the leather purse that contained her toadstone, she hoped that it would bring her better fortune than it had him.

Climbing from the cleft and returning to her hunt, she pondered the silver ring, its self-destructive serpent, and the gems that gave it vision. But the sun’s heat soon beat from her any thoughts other than those of home. Making a best guess at the direction of her own village, she pulled her cloak over her head and willed her tired feet forward. Still, her eyes scanned the ground in front of her. For there were toadstones here. And with such stones one could save a life. Or not.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Good Hater is now out in paperback!

You can get it at Amazon here.

If you buy a deadwood edition, you should be able to download the Kindle version for free.  Let me know how that goes, ok?

Monday, March 14, 2016

A nice review

Of Swords of Darkness:
Some stories are certainly better than others, Bill Hoyt's "A Test of His Metal" is well developed with a satisfying twist, and Charles Jake's piece, "The Price of Ambition" is an enjoyable read that begs to be turned into a longer and more developed work and "Dance of Swords" by JC Kang is a well written slice of something clearly larger in scope that we can hope someday to read in entirety. A few other stories seem less skilfully woven, however overall Swords of Darkness does not disappoint.
FWIW, I also thought Jake's and Kang's were among the best of the lot.  If you like swords, why not give LC Mortimer's first fantasy anthology a look?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Officially a best-selling author

One more off the bucket list.

UPDATE: #1 in Slavery Biographies as well, just ahead of Twelve Years a Slave.  And I didn't even get a movie deal.