Author Archives: Scott Dyson

THE CAVE is live!

My 25,000 word novella, THE CAVE, is live on Amazon! (Click on the image to link to the file on Amazon…)

The Cave Novella

The Cave Novella

Here is the description:

WHEN IS A CAVE NOT A CAVE?

While exploring the woods near their bike trails, four soon-to-be eighth grade boys make an exciting discovery: a real cave! Of course they decide to explore it, and they make a pact to keep it as their very own secret.

But Steve breaks the pact in order to win the attention of the neighborhood girl that they all dream about: Gina Lawson. To their surprise, Gina wants in on their adventure. As the five of them explore further and deeper, they begin to realize that their cave is not simply a cave – but does the strange pocket of darknesss merely pose serious danger, or does true evil lurk within?

A 25,000 word horror novella mixing teenage exuberance with a touch of the macabre. (Contains adult themes and some adult language.)

It only costs $0.99!  For 25 THOUSAND words!  (maybe a few more, actually.)  Grab it today!

*****

Price reductions!

I have reduced the prices of everything I have published to $0.99!  Is that good news or bad?  That remains to be seen, I suppose.  If the lowered prices result in any sales at all, it’s great news!  If not, well, then, it isn’t any different from what’s going on now.

The truth is, until the 13th of May, I hadn’t seen a sale in over a month.  One of my short stories, “Night Family,” was purchased on that day and has not been returned.  The last three before that had been returned.  Why?  Because whoever downloaded them was disappointed that they were too short?  Or because they realized that they’d already read them as a part of either 14 Dark Windows or The Striker Files.

I’ve redone the descriptions in a very minor way, making the first line an indicator that the stories are contained in larger collections, also costing $0.99.  Hopefully that will help.  Also it will hopefully take away the “being upset at the length” factor, even though every one of them clearly shows the number of pages AND I state the length of the short stories in the blurb.

So now everything is $0.99, including the 25K novella THE CAVE which will be out very soon.  The short stories are also in KDP Select, so they can be downloaded as a KU borrow or used as a “Prime” borrow in a given month.

Although you can see all the titles by clicking on the “Books” menu tab above, here they are:

14 DARK WINDOWS

DIE 6

THE STRIKER FILES 3-in-1 Collection

SOLE OCCUPANT (two short stories)

ODD MAN OUT (two short stories)

JACK’O’LANTERN (three short stories)

THE GATEWAY   (three short stories)

DEAD OR ALIVE (a Striker Files short story)

NIGHT FAMILY (a Striker Files short story)

RICK’S RULES (a Striker Files short story)

And that’s all of them.  Except for THE CAVE, which isn’t live yet on Amazon.

Oh, yeah.  Did I mention that they’re all $0.99?  They literally can’t get cheaper as long as they’re exclusive to Amazon…

Take a look, assuming anyone sees this post.

*****

Why “horror?”

My post from yesterday talked about what scared me, and I promised that I’d write something about why I write what I write, which is mostly horror.  The short answer is that it’s what comes out when I start writing.  So there.

There’s gotta be a longer answer, right?

Well, let’s see.  I write horror because I think it’s fun to imagine scary scenarios.  There’s usually a morality play at work in such stories; even if they glorify gore and torture, there’s a good-vs.-evil thing going on.  You the reader root for the good guy (usually).

I cut my fiction teeth on mysteries when I was small.  All mysteries seem to me to be “small horror” stories in a way.  Something bad has happened.  The mystery is who did it, or why.  Sometimes it’s a puzzle story about the act of figuring things out.  Think of thrillers.  Murders, terrorists, evil government agencies, disappearances, bombs, plane crashes — all these things can be elements of a horror novel.  But the focus is on the good guy solving the problem, not so much on the victim.

I remember a mystery I read when I was younger titled THE BLACK SPANIEL MYSTERY (or something close to that).  I remember that these puppies were disappearing.  Or rather, they were being replaced.  But one of the kids noticed that the markings of the puppy were not the same as the markings on the original puppy.  Why?  I can remember feeling for those puppies, as well as for the kids who were hurt by the puppies’ disappearance.  That the kids took it upon themselves to solve the puzzle made it a mystery.  But what if the puppies were being stolen just to hurt the kids?  Or they were going to do a “Cruella DeVil” on them and skin them for their lovely fur pelts?  That’s horror, no?

Further, I moved on to science fiction.  Asimov and Heinlein were my two main sources of entertainment for a long time (considering how many books both of them wrote, you can well imagine that getting through their catalogs took a few years…).  Again, we had mysteries, even in something like FOUNDATION, where the whole book is basically a search for the Second Foundation.  Along the way there is The Mule, a mutant who can rule the universe with his advanced mental powers.  That’s sort of scary, isn’t it?  He’s almost an alien in those books, and here he is taking over the human race.  Admittedly, Asimov’s emphasis doesn’t focus on any horrific elements, so it remains firmly in the SF realm.

Then finally, I found Stephen King.  Now here was horror.  We had a psychic girl going destructo on her high school prom, we had vampires taking over a town, we had the ghosts of evil in a big hotel recruiting the caretaker and convincing him to murder his snowbound family, we had a psychic who sees the end of the world in a politician’s handshake and acts to stop it, we had a virus which kills off 99.4% (or something like that) of the population of the U.S., setting up an epic battle between good and evil.  We had ghosts, we had aliens, we had monsters, we had zombies from a pet cemetery…all manners of horror.  All done with style.

I didn’t really read horror to be reading horror for a long time.  I just read authors.  Dan Simmons wrote some horror (Summer of Night, Carrion Comfort).  Robert McCammon did, too.  So did Orson Scott Card (Lost Boys) and Dean Koontz.  Finally I found authors who wrote nothing except for horror.  Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Phil Rickman, Melanie Tem, Nancy Holder, Poppy Z. Brite…  So many names, so many scary stories.  The tales varied.  Some were gross and bloody, some were moody and ephemeral.

I wanted to write science fiction, but nothing I wrote seemed to really work all that well.  Although I have a science background (chemistry major, lots of health sciences in dental school, and interest in the space program dating to my childhood, so I always took in information about the goings-on in science), my stories never seemed really plausible to me.  Maybe that was the problem.  Maybe I knew enough to know that what I was thinking wasn’t really going to work, but not enough to figure out a way to make it believable.  Anyway, as big of a fan of SF as I am, I’ve only written three short stories that are more or less in the realm of SF.

Everything I write seems to always come back to either the supernatural, or to something evil.  I’ve liked that in short stories I can sometimes have the bad guys win (see my short story GARAGE SALE which is found in THE STRIKER FILES 3-In-1 COLLECTION, or my story THE FUN HOUSE in DIE 6).  I like going in that direction with my stories.  It seems natural to me.

I like stories about characters.  I believe that most horror, at least most entertaining (to me) horror, is character-centric.  If you don’t care about the victims, then you won’t care much about their story.  And there is always a very important struggle between good and evil, between right and wrong.  To me, that’s the cool part of a story in the horror genre — it’s the “good will rise over evil” aspect, the fact that while not everyone might live through this evil, in the end, somehow, the good characters will triumph.  Perhaps it will be at a steep cost, perhaps their lives, or the lives of their loved ones.  Sacrifices have to be made.  That’s a good story right there, in my opinion.  It’s a universal story; one that can be adapted across genres.  Maybe all, or most, good stories have it at their core, somehow.

Recently I read a book called SEASICK by Iain Rob Wright.  In the book a troubled cop on holiday finds that he’s reliving a day over and over and over and over and…  well, you get the picture.  It turns out (SPOILER ALERT, though I think that even if you know the end, you can probably read the book and enjoy it because it’s a pretty fun read) that there is a killer virus on the ship, released by terrorists, and when the ship reaches the dock, it’s going to infect the port, and the world, and everyone’s gonna die.  How is the cop going to get out of this?

Is this a thriller or a horror novel?  Well, the virus turns people into some sort of zombies, so that makes it horror.  But…terrorists…a plot to release a virus…a hero cop…thriller, right?  But, a sorcerer who is causing the day to repeat for this cop until he gets it right…back to horror…  But…

You see what I mean.  A good horror novel can be a good thriller.  It just has supernatural aspects, and doesn’t shy away from depicting the bad stuff that happens, even if it happens more or less “off camera.”

I like writing character-driven stories.  I think that most of my stories start with the characters and move on from there.  I don’t know if I succeed.  Read something I’ve written (all short stories, until THE CAVE goes live sometime this weekend, then I’ll have a novella in the mix as well) and come back and tell me what you think.  It happens that most of my stories end up being horror in some way, but they’re mostly just stories.

One of the best horror series I’ve read in recent years is F. Paul Wilson’s “Repairman Jack” series.  Why is it so good?  Because Jack is facing off as the champion of a supernatural entity, and opposing another, more involved supernatural entity, but the horrors are a mix of real-life horror and horror caused in an unbelievable way by something supernatural.  Because Jack is fighting for himself as a sort of every-man, and his family, and even for people he doesn’t know but shares humanity with.  Because in the end you just have to know what’s happening, how it’s going to resolve, and what will become of Jack and Gia and Vicky and Abe and others.

It is a character-driven series, in my view, and they are the type of books I love to read, and aspire to write.

Anyway, that’s a long answer as to why I write horror.  Mostly it’s because those are the kind of stories that I make up.  Lot of words to get back to that short answer.  Sorry!

*****

What scares me?

I started off thinking that I should write a post about why I write what I write.  As anyone who takes a look at my Amazon page can see, I write mostly horror.  My contribution to the anthology QUANTUM ZOO was NOT horror; it was science fiction, in that it was set in a far-off future where people don’t really live on Earth anymore, except for those needed to keep the planet running.  Earth is a sort of zoo-planet (hence the link to the zoo theme of the anthology) and without human interference strange and wonderful things happen.  (I’m considering releasing it separately for $0.99 but for now the only way to read it is to get QUANTUM ZOO!)  Also, two of the offerings in my collection DIE 6 are not horror:  one concerns the possibility of uploading a conscience into a computer network, and the other involved time travel.

But everything else is horror, or at least contains supernatural elements, even when the story itself isn’t horrific.  (SARAH’S PUPPY, THE MOMENT, and GHOST OF LOVE in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS come to mind, as do BLOOD TIES and THE TOOTH FAIRY in DIE 6.)  And the forthcoming novella THE CAVE is horror also.  I also have another work tentatively titled THE INN (but that will change, I hope) and one called RECIPROCAL EVIL, both of which are a bit longer (38K and 45K respectively) and both are straight horror.  Not gross-out horror, or splatterpunk horror, but definitely horror.

So I started thinking about why I write in that genre, and what it says about me, and I realized that many of the things I write have a “damsel in distress.”  Why?  I don’t know.  I think I can’t imagine very much that is more frightening than a threat to a woman might be.  Why is it always a woman?  Why not a man?  Again, I don’t know.  I don’t think of a man being terrorized by a serial killer or something supernatural as being particularly terrifying, though when I read works by other authors, I see that it can be.

When I think back on the things that really frightened me in my life, to a point that I lost sleep after seeing or reading such things, I came up with two examples.  And no, it wasn’t Jason or Freddy chasing around pretty damsels, which perhaps one might think I would find frightening after reading some of my stuff.  It also wasn’t something like JURASSIC PARK, or GODZILLA or any of those types of horror films.  It wasn’t SALEM’S LOT or THE SHINING, and it wasn’t Richard Laymon’s or Ed Lee’s work.  I found them to be (mostly) pretty interesting stories that grabbed me and made me keep reading, but I didn’t stay awake at night thinking about them.

What scared me was HELTER SKELTER.  I think I read it in high school, in the late 1970’s, and it really affected me back then, so much so that I still think about it today.  The second thing that scared me was a movie called DRESSED TO KILL, which starred Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson and was directed by Brian DePalma.  I don’t know why it creeped me out so much, but it definitely did a number on me.  I had dreams (nightmares?) about it.  And the prosecutor’s account of the Manson Family crimes scared me to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep, certain that every sound in the house was some nutcases crawling around and preparing to kill my whole family.

I don’t know if I’d have the same reaction to that movie, or that book, today.  Maybe I’m too jaded, too grown-up now to really be afraid of anything I read or see.  I’ve seen films and read books that seem on the surface to be far scarier.  But none of them bother me.  My own stories don’t bother me either; I hope they’re entertaining but they don’t scare me any more than Bryan Smith’s works, or J.A. Konrath’s or Blake Crouch’s stories, or Tim Miller’s or Matt Shaw’s books, or John Everson’s tales do.

As I think about it, William Malmborg’s works have made me think and creeped me out, if not to the point where I lose sleep over them.  And one of the most frightening short stories I’ve read in a long time was J. Michael Major’s “A Letter To My Ex” which was published in a SPLATTERLANDS anthology.  Scary stuff.  All-too-human horror on both counts.  I think I’ve been influenced a lot by Malmborg’s books, especially in writing THE INN.

I have two topics to write about this week before the weekend release of THE CAVE:  first is sort of a continuation of this post, a bit more about why I write horror instead of SF or mystery or thriller novels, and second is about how my writing career (such as it is) is going and why I’m lowering all my prices to $0.99.  Probably I’ll write and post them on Wednesday and Thursday, right before I formally announce the release of THE CAVE.

Cover Reveal!

My latest work, THE CAVE, is finished.  I had hoped to have it available by this weekend for Kindle, but I didn’t have enough time to get all the finishing touches done on the file.

But happily, the cover IS done!  And here’s a look at it:

The Cave JPEG 3-5

The photo credit goes to my wife; it’s a photo she took at a cave in Wisconsin called “Cave of the Mounds.” The cover composition was done by my son Kevin.

When I have more news, like the links to the ebook, I’ll post it here and on Facebook!

Have a great day!

*****

Something new coming out – THE CAVE

I am finally ready to publish something new!  I’ve finished up a 25,000 word novella called THE CAVE and we are putting the finishing touches on the cover.  When the cover is done, I will be publishing it as an ebook for Kindle.  This is probably the first book that I’m going to try for a wider release.  I’m also planning on publishing it (not immediately but as soon as I have time to do the extra work) to the other ebook platforms, either through Smashwords or Draft-2-Digital.  I hope to have it eventually available for Nook, iBooks, and Kobo.

The story has been through my personal editing wringer (for what it’s worth) and a first reader (Tom McAlister) who gave me some very good input.  To me (and to Tom), it reads nicely.  But then today I had my confidence shaken as I looked at the notes that one of the editors of QUANTUM ZOO sent me on my story.  Most were copy-edit types of corrections, like repetition of a word too close together or wrong use of an m-dash.  But some were just clarity edits, and when I read them, I realized that her suggestions (the copy-editor was J.M. Ney-Grimm) did clarify the writing in those areas.

But then I remembered Dean Wesley Smith suggesting that you can be paralyzed by such doubts, and I don’t intend to allow it to paralyze me.  So here it comes.  Maybe by the weekend, more likely sometime next week.

I’m working on the blurb right now, but here’s a bit about what the novella is about.  Four boys discover a cave in a forest preserve/park near their homes.  They decide that they are going to explore it by themselves, because they know that if they let the authorities know about it, no one will let them go into it.  So they start to excavate the entrance out, and are joined by the cutest girl in the neighborhood, who, to their surprise, is very interested in caves.  But the cave has dangers — not all from the physical challenges presented by their exploration.

It’s a story about young love, about trust, about learning to care for others, and about friendships.  It’s also a story about something strange that has it in for them and wants something from them that they’re not really prepared to give.

While I’ll classify the tale as horror, I don’t know if it is strictly horror.  There isn’t a fright around every corner.  Mostly it’s just a story about kids discovering the world around them, and discovering themselves.

It was inspired, in part at least, by Richard Laymon’s THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW, and I tried to create the feel of the kids’ experience with something very strange that I found in that novel.

I’m thinking that I’m going to make some pricing moves with all of my works.  The short fiction can’t go any lower, but I think I’ll probably lower the price of all my collections to $0.99 for a while.  See if I can lure any new readers in.

As soon as this one is out there, I’ll move on to working on my band trip horror novella, a 35,000+ word story with the working title THE INN.  And a second, short novel called RECIPROCAL EVIL, clocks in at about 45,000 words and is currently being read by a first reader.  I would like to get them all out before fall.  Hopefully my dental mystery, tentatively called DEATH BY APPOINTMENT, will get finished up and I can look into editing it and polishing it.

More information to follow.  Watch this space (and Facebook) for release notes…

*****

“Review” of SILICON SLUMMIN’ – AND JUST GETTING BY by Steven M. Moore

For those of you who don’t know, Steven M. Moore is an “indie” SF/Thriller author who writes in several series (though he’s more or less tying them all together, ala Isaac Asimov and all of his various novels).  His latest series features a “Dangerous Miss” (I don’t know the Spanish off the top of my head), Maria Jose Melendez, also known as Mary Jo.  Trouble has seemed to find Mary Jo since she left the navy.  She seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But really, she was never exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time — circumstances conspired to put her in those positions, whether by coincidence or by design.  Everything comes from the events of the first book, where Mary Jo has to travel the globe trying to stay one step ahead of numerous government agencies while trying to avenge the death of her sister and brother-in-law.  Now there are those who want to find out what she knows and won’t allow anyone to get in between their goals.

As usual, Mary Jo ends up in a job that seems to suit her, but ends up drawing trouble to her.  She has Russian assassins on her tail, as well as some sort of Feds and…surprise!  A stalker!  And not just a stalker…a serial killer psychopathic stalker.

Moore’s plot is a tightly woven affair which features well drawn characters who grow throughout the book and become stronger and better people due to their interaction with our heroine.   The book keeps the right amount of pacing and suspense and even crosses into a bit of my realm, serial killer/horror.  (But not too much…nothing really graphic here.)  There’s even a tinge of romance as Mary Jo and her PI/bodyguard Mario hit it off and a few sparks fly.

In my mind, this book surpassed the first of the Mary Jo Melendez books (titled MUDDLIN’ THROUGH).  I read it pretty much straight through.  One of Moore’s better offerings, and that’s saying quite a lot, what with the Castilblanco/Chen series and the MIDAS BOMB and SOLDIERS OF GOD.

You can check it out on Amazon here:  SILICON SLUMMIN’ (And Just Gettin’ By)

*****

Michael Jasper’s THE WANNOSHAY CYCLE

[I read this book a number of years ago and wrote this review immediately after reading it.  I recently came across a short story by Michael Jasper titled “Drinker,” which is set in the Wannoshay universe.  The short story was different — set on the Wannoshay homeworld, entirely populated by the aliens.  I didn’t think it was as successful, though it was beautifully written.  It didn’t grab me like this novel did.  But revisiting that universe made me think about how much I liked the novel, and I remembered that I reviewed it on Journalscape back then.  So here is that review, from February 18, 2008, with some edits and deletions (like a reference to what I was reading next…):]

I started reading THE WANNOSHAY CYCLE by Michael Jasper on Wednesday or Thursday of last week, finished it on Friday night, and went back to reread a few chapters over the weekend.I don’t know how many here have read it, but for what it’s worth, I thought this was one of the best “alien” type SF novels I’ve ever read. I won’t talk about the plot here; if anyone wants to know more about it, check it out on Amazon and read the description.

I will say, though, that the depiction of aliens is up there with Niven’s Ringworld aliens, in my opinion. It is superior to those, in some ways. I felt like I *knew* these creatures better than I ever knew the Puppeteer or the other alien from RINGWORLD. I could visualize them much better than I could the alien beings in Asimov’s THE GODS THEMSELVES, and the aliens in Robert Sawyer’s CALCULATING GOD were less well described, I thought.

Jasper’s vision of the near future, an Earth where things like You Tube and blogging have been extrapolated to one possible logical conclusion, where the government’s response to terrorism has become a way of life in itself, sort of, where designer drugs evolve into Blur, was both familiar but yet clearly IN the future. I thought it was very well imagined and described.

Michael Jasper writes beautifully, also. Nary a clunky sentence to pull one out of the story to be found. Characters are fully realized; you “know” them very quickly, including the aliens to the degree that any alien can be understood. One of the nice things about the story is that the author does not try to explain every last thing about these creatures; leaving me to believe that there are some things about the aliens that just are outside of human experience.

This is up there with the best SF I’ve read in a couple of years. And seriously, I’m not just kissing up because Michael Jasper journals here, and might (or might not) read this. If anyone reading this likes SF, you can confidently give this book a go.

*****

James Scott Bell’s Ty Buchanan Trilogy

After reading a blog entry on  The Kill Zone by James Scott Bell titled “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?” , where he detailed the impetus for a particular novel of his called TRY DYING, I decided that it sounded interesting enough to try it out for $2.99.  The bit on the blog entry described how he read a news story…well, let me excerpt the bit from the entry:

Back when newspapers existed, I would read either the L.A. Times or the L.A. Daily News, and one legal newspaper, the L.A. Daily Journal. I’d scan for interesting stories or legal issues, and clip them and throw them into a box. Every now and then I’d go through that box, seeing if the ideas still interested me.

One item kept vying for my attention. It was a tragic story about an L.A. man who shot his young wife to death, then drove to a freeway overpass, got out, shot himself, and fell 100 feet to the freeway below. He crushed a Toyota, killing the driver. How bizarre is that?

So one day I wrote this up as an opening scene. When I got to the part about the woman being killed, I made up a character: Jacqueline Dwyer, a twenty-seven-year old elementary school teacher.

From there Bell imagined some things about the incident and came up with a story about a young lawyer in a high-powered LA law firm who was engaged to marry Jacqueline Dwyer.  She was his soul mate, and her death crushes him.  When someone shows up at the funeral trying to get money out of him in exchange for information about her death, Ty Buchanan (the attorney) learns that Jacqueline may have survived the impact of the body of the suicide victim hitting her car.  And then she was killed — murdered, in fact, and this guy who has shown up at the funeral witnessed it.

I sped through the first book, which introduced me to a priest named Father Bob, who has been accused falsely of molesting a young boy and has been reassigned to a Benedictine monastery called St. Monica’s, and a pretty young nun who lives there as well named Sister Mary Veritas.  What followed was a tense mystery, with two parallel mysteries — the first pertaining to the case that Ty is working on at his firm, related to suppressed memories and false accusations of sexual abuse used as weapons in divorce cases (Father Bob comes to Ty to give him background on his own case in order to help the falsely accused man), and the second is Ty’s own investigation into his fiancee’s death.

After speeding through that first book I immediately downloaded the second book (TRY DARKNESS) and I sped through that one almost as quickly.  In this one, Ty is now practicing law out of a coffee shop and he is introduced to a woman and her young daughter by Father Bob.  The woman is being forced out of the residential hotel she lives in with her daughter and onto the street.  The play is that if someone is not a resident for over a certain time period, the hotel can be considered a commercial hotel rather than a residential hotel and there are tax advantages or something like that.  So the owners/management shuffle the residents out after so many days, and then they can return after a couple weeks.  Seems the woman doesn’t want to go.  She can pay the rent and wants Ty to force them to let her stay.

Then she ends up dead.

So now Ty has a murder mystery to deal with.  Not to mention whatever’s going on at St. Monica’s, where Ty is living and finding himself increasingly attracted to Sister Mary Veritas, the classic example of setting up an unattainable target.  The sparks that fly between the two of them as they interact are worth the price of admission.  But it’s still the mystery at the heart of this book that makes it another great read, and another hard-to-put-down story.  I reached the end and wanted more.

So I got more.  I downloaded the third book, TRY FEAR, and plowed ahead into Ty’s story, and Sister Mary’s story too.  In this story, Ty starts off by getting a guy off for a DUI on a technicality.  His DA opponent, Kimberly Pincus, is upset that she got beaten on something that seemed so cut-and-dried, especially when the guy had a blood alcohol reading of .18 — in other words, he was very drunk, and he was driving.  The DA is not just a woman, she’s a young, very attractive woman, and she sets her sights on Ty, who is just now getting over his fiancee’s death.  He’s ready for a relationship, maybe.  And maybe Kimberly is the right woman.

Or maybe not.

Because at the same time, Sister Mary Veritas, the basketball-playing, elbow-throwing nun who is helping out by acting as Ty’s investigator, begins receiving threatening emails. A cyber-stalker, making threats and insults to the pretty young nun.  When Mary is shot while she and Ty are trying to visit a witness, Ty blames himself — the bullet must have been meant for him and Mary’s involvement is just too risky for the nun.

This may have been the best story of the three — it really grabbed me and spun me around with its twists and turns — twists worthy of a Harlan Coben novel.  I loved the continued sparks between Sister Mary and Ty, and the repercussions for Mary, both in terms of physical risks (like being shot) and punishment from the abbess of St. Monica’s.  So many questions:  Is Kimberly the right woman for Ty?  Is being a nun the right choice for Sister Mary?  And what’s this cyber-stalking all about?  Is it connected to a case, or is it a random nut, or is something in her past coming back to haunt her?

TRY FEAR has a great conclusion to every question I may have had, and while I would be happy to read more about these characters, the story feels complete (as Bell indicates at the end of the third book).  It can end here and I’ll be okay with it.

James Scott Bell has many books on the craft of writing, and I think perhaps I should try a few of them, see if anything he has to say about specific parts of craft that clicks with me.

A very enjoyable trio of reads.  I will be reading more fiction by Bell as well in the future.  I like his style and he creates great characters who come to life in his stories, if these three books are any indication.

*****

A couple of good reads…

So, I haven’t been writing much lately — I got about an hour in at the computer yesterday and just couldn’t seem to get any momentum on any of the tales that I have going.  Probably wrote less than 200 words.  Instead, I’ve been getting a bit of reading done.

I have about four books going, and two of them grabbed me and held on — both of them ebooks by Tim Pratt.  The first was the eighth entry in his Marla Mason series (he mentions that he’s now written as many (or more) self-published books in the series as he had written for a publisher), titled LADY OF MISRULE.  The second was a $0.99 novel called HEIRS OF GRACE, which was originally published as a Kindle Serial.

I’ve been a Marla Mason fan since I read the first one many years ago, and while I enjoyed this one, where Marla et al battle a seemingly-undefeatable extra-dimensional monster, it felt a little scattershot (is that a word?) compared to some of the others.  Less focused.  More “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” in plot.  Which is not to say it was bad — it was a pretty fun, pretty fast read.  Lots of imaginative stuff there.  Maybe a little too much.  Still, I’m looking forward to the next installment for further adventures of Marla Mason.

The second, HEIRS OF GRACE, impressed me.  I went into the read with almost no expectations, and the book grabbed me from the first page.  This one features recent art school graduate Rebekah Lull, who has inherited from her biological father a fair sized sum of money and a house in North (?) Carolina.   And what she finds out is that she isn’t exactly all human — her father is a sorcerer at the least and maybe a whole lot more.  And she has some biological siblings — not all human either.

There’s a lawyer named Trey who she finds herself attracted to and it appears that the attraction is quite mutual, but there’s a bit of a conflict seeing as how he’s her lawyer.

Oh, and the house is magic.

This was a really inventive story with lots of cool characters and plenty of peril for our main character as she fights against her siblings and contends with the risks that her inheritance poses to her.  Not to mention complications with the relationship with Trey…  I had a hard time putting this book down.  It was also a fun and fast read, and was unlike much of what I’ve read before.

Tim Pratt is a very gifted writer of fantasy and SF, and both of these were well worth my time.

Now, I’ll just hope that I get some inspiration to actually write something.

*****