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Upcoming Novella: THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT

I have a new work coming out soon.  Maybe even before Christmas!  (But more probably around the new year…)

It’s called THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT, and it was inspired by a Richard Laymon work where the night doesn’t end.  But it isn’t Laymon’s story.  It’s all mine. 

Here’s the working blurb:


It’s an ordinary summer, much like any other –- until the day the sun stopped rising.

First, cell phone service fails. Then the electricity goes out. Those who leave aren’t returning. Those who stay home are disappearing.

Or dying.

Beth Evans doesn’t trust the neighbor who appoints himself block leader. She doesn’t believe him when he proclaims that the danger comes from beyond the ends of their street. All she wants is to keep her family safe, and to do so, she must find the truth on her own. 

But the most terrifying danger may be closer than Beth dreams…


I am looking forward to publishing my fifth longer work.  This isn’t a novel or even a longer novella like THE INN or ODD MAN OUT; it’s about 26,000 words, give or take. 

Watch this space for more information and a cover reveal!  Thank you!

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How I came to write ODD MAN OUT

I just released what I feel might be my best work – the novella version of ODD MAN OUT.  It’s a tale of jealousy and duplicity that leads to a nasty outcome, mostly set in a cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin, probably.  I say “probably” because although that’s the type of setting I was envisioning, there is no specified region in the story. 

ODD MAN OUT started life as a short story, back in the 1990’s, when I was helping to run a Delphi forum called THE BOOK AND CANDLE PUB.  We had a short story contest there, called the “Publican Brief” (paying homage to the John Grisham novel), and the challenge this time was to write a story around the provided opening sentence and six random words.  I don’t recall what the words were, but I know the opening sentence was something like “The smell of pines invaded my senses…”  It’s still in the story, but it’s in a different spot; it is no longer the opening line.

I published the short story with another story called “The House At The Bend In The Road.”  Together they were less than 4000 words.  I think the original “Odd Man Out” was about 1600 words.  My friend Rich Siegle did a cover for it, and briefly we tinkered with the idea of doing a comic book treatment or illustrated version of the story.  My feeling at the time was that it was only my second thing published, and I didn’t think it would be worth the time or effort we’d have to put into it.  After all, I was going to sell it for $0.99.

Interestingly, it was the first thing I sold.  Within hours of publishing it, a copy sold!  I thought, this publishing business is easy and fun!   I was right about the “fun” part, but the “easy” part really didn’t play out.  I’m not a big seller.  My friends, apparently, are not big readers, and even though I’m a member of several reader/writer groups on Facebook, I don’t seem to sell many books.  

But that’s neither here nor there.  At some point, I though, I have this great cover.  And it’s gracing the front of a couple of short stories that don’t sell at all.  Why not use it on something else?  Could “Odd Man Out” benefit from a longer rewrite?  I’d done it with another story, “Dead Or Alive,” and it went from about 2400 words to 7500 words, and spawned two more stories of 8500 words and 9600 words.  (These became THE STRIKER FILES collection.)

So I started writing.  The short story served as an outline, so to speak.  I had my characters, I had my background and I had my setting.  So it was just a matter of fleshing things out.

The story grew to something around 34000 words.  No longer a short story at all.  Now it was a full blown novella.  Could I have made it even longer?  Maybe.  But I felt like I would have been adding for the sake of adding, not for telling the story I envisioned. 

Rereading it, as I have been doing for the past couple of nights, has been instructive.  I have never read something I’ve written so soon after publication and felt as positively as I did in this one.  I hope it gets an audience.  I hope it helps me get an audience.  I think it is good enough to do so. 

NEW RELEASE: ODD MAN OUT novella

It’s official!  ODD MAN OUT is live on Amazon! 

Here’s the blurb:

It’s going to be one crazy weekend. Crazy enough to kill…

Everyone has always enjoyed the annual Halloween getaway at Roger’s cabin, even if some of Roger’s games are a little… strange. And this year, it’s once again Roger’s turn to pick the game they will play.

Roger wants everything to be perfect so he’s put a great deal of thought into his scavenger hunt. After all, he loves Amy and he’s determined to win her heart.

He’s also determined to deal with Amy’s fiance, Paul. Paul pretends that he and Amy were destined to be together. That Paul didn’t steal Amy from him. That he and Paul are still best friends.

The meals, the campfires, the game, it’s all part of Roger’s revenge plot. Only he didn’t plan on his secretary driving to the cabin and screwing everything up.

But what’s a few more murders, between friends?

Check it out! 

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ODD MAN OUT cover reveal!

This is sort of an anticlimax, but the rewritten, novella-length version of ODD MAN OUT will be coming out very soon!  And the cover is the same as the old cover for the short story.  (It’s too good of a cover to waste on that short story!)

So:  Without further ado, here is the cover to ODD MAN OUT:

 

Thanks to Rich Siegle for the tremendous cover art!  It was exactly what I was thinking of when I envisioned an image for the short story, and will work great on the novella also!

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Read the review of DIE 6!

I’ve always been proud of these 6 short stories, and am happy to share a review from author Steven M. Moore, who read and reviewed the story today on his blog. 

Please, visit Steve’s blog, read the review, and while you’re there, check out Steve’s offerings.  He is an excellent SF/thriller author who writes hard science fiction and classic mysteries.  He’s got a lot to check out! 

Here’s the link to Steve’s review of DIE 6.  

And don’t forget that DIE 6 is still free on Amazon for today and tomorrow.

6 short stories, 123 pages

RECIPROCAL EVIL RELEASE DATE!

Today’s the day! 

RECIPROCAL EVIL is available for purchase now!  Its current special release week price is $0.99, which will go up to $2.99 on the weekend.  So get it now! 

THE INN is free through Wednesday, November 14th.  If you don’t have it yet, grab a copy!

Here’s the blurb:

There’s a serial killer on the loose. And he might be working for the Devil…

Student Chris Jones is obsessed with finding meaning in his life. Researching the historical existence of evil, he falls down the rabbit hole, becoming deeply affected by the darkness in our world. He forgets about classwork and, most of all, his relationship with his girlfriend Rachel suffers. After a gruesome murder on campus, things get even worse.

Because the night before, Chris dreamed about it.

He dreamed about the rape, the knife wounds, the agonizing cries. He experienced it vividly — from the killer’s perspective. Why is he experiencing this? Is it related to his research? The terror on campus ramps up as Rachel’s roommate goes missing… just as Chris comes face to face with a killer. The killer who died years ago.

What is the entity’s game? How does it involve Chris? And even more frightening: What does this evil being want with Rachel? Chris’s life isn’t the only thing he has to put on the line. He could risk the love of his life. He could risk his very soul…

RECIPROCAL EVIL:  BUY IT NOW!

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How did I come to write Reciprocal Evil?

I am about to release my longest work to date:  RECIPROCAL EVIL

The story, in a nutshell, is told in the blurb: 

There’s a serial killer on the loose. And he might be working for the Devil…

Student Chris Jones is obsessed with finding meaning in his life. Researching the historical existence of evil, he falls down the rabbit hole, becoming deeply affected by the darkness in our world. He forgets about classwork and, most of all, his relationship with his girlfriend Rachel suffers. After a gruesome murder on campus, things get even worse.

Because the night before, Chris dreamed about it.

He dreamed about the rape, the knife wounds, the agonizing cries.  He experienced it vividly — from the killer’s perspective.  Why is he experiencing this? Is it related to his research? The terror on campus ramps up as Rachel’s roommate goes missing… just as Chris comes face to face with a killer. The killer who died years ago.

What is the entity’s game? How does it involve Chris? And even more frightening: What does this evil being want with Rachel? Chris’s life isn’t the only thing he has to put on the line. He could risk the love of his life. He could risk his very soul…

I sometimes wonder about people writing horror.  There’s some twisted stuff out there.  Extreme horror graphically describes tortures and mutilations and disgusting acts in an effort to shock the reader.  When it succeeds, it can be good.  I’ve read a bit of it and thought maybe I could write it, but in the end, I just can’t.  I pull my punches too much, I guess.  I can’t describe the unspeakable acts that some of them do.  

But I don’t assume that the writers of such horror are “turned on” or whatever by the sadistic and grotesque acts they write about.  They just tell stories for readers who like that sort of thing. 

So how did I write this story?  How did I write THE INN and THE CAVE?  The latter of those two was about a group of eighth graders who discover a cave and find out that it’s something – more – than a cave.  THE INN was about a group of high school kids going on a band trip and staying in a creepy motel where bad things happen.   THE CAVE was inspired by Richard Laymon’s novel THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW, and the THE INN was inspired by William Malmborg’s TEXT MESSAGE.  There is a threat, and it involves the kids.  I hope they’re scary, but I also hope that my readers connect with my characters.  I made them as real as I could.  

RECIPROCAL EVIL was inspired by an Edward Lee novel I read a number of years ago called CITY INFERNAL.  In it Hell is a real place, called Mephistopolis or something like that, and is powered by suffering.  I took that idea sort of literally in this story, too.  But I made my antagonist one of the providers of that power for Hell.  And I made my protagonist a college student who is studying the nature of evil, and is pursuing this study outside of his normal chemistry and physics classes.  It is affecting him; how could immersing one’s self in discussions of the nature of evil not affect someone?  But it’s also affecting those around him.  It’s drawing something evil toward him, perhaps, and therefore it is drawing the evil into the proximity of his closest friends.  

The book starts in a Chemistry lecture that is modeled on my own freshman year chem lecture (except that Chris, my main character is a junior – so it’s not THAT class).  The rest of the story takes place in locations that are inspired by real locations at my own college.  That’s ancient history, but the library was spooky enough to be used as a location in the original version of FLATLINERS.  And some of the dorms and classroom buildings intrigued me (in a spooky way) when I was there.  They don’t necessarily figure in the story, but the ambience they lent to the campus is definitely part of what I tried to incorporate. 

I didn’t outline the story; I just sort of started writing about Chris Jones, and it sort of just came to me as I wrote.  I knew it was going to feature a serial killer, but at first I didn’t know how it would relate to Chris, and I just sort of went with the flow.  The end result is the story you can read very soon.  I hope you choose to download it, and I hope you enjoy it!  Thanks!

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RECIPROCAL EVIL – Prologue

Please enjoy this teaser for my upcoming novel, RECIPROCAL EVIL

 

PROLOGUE

“It is magnificent, is it not?” The handsome bearded man held the younger girl’s arm as if supporting her, and guided her into the nave of the old church. She didn’t look around, nor did she answer. She wore a long cloak that looked too warm for the day’s temperature.

“These Europeans knew how to build churches. Without doubt. A perfect place for such a momentous ceremony. Are you not excited, my dear?”

Again, no answer came. The girl stumbled as he released his grip on her. He placed his arm around her waist again, holding her up.

“Be careful! We wouldn’t want you to fall and suffer pain.” The man chuckled. “Plenty of time for suffering later.” He looked toward the altar. “Hello!” he called. “Anyone here?”

The church was empty, as he knew it would be. His lords and masters would make certain that no one would be present to interfere with the ceremony.

“It is a long walk to the altar. I wish I had thought to bring along a wheelchair to help you, my dear. As it is, however, you’ll have to walk. Never fear. I will help you.” He looked at his young companion. She looked lovely, even clad in the cloak. Her reddish-blond hair was full and long, and her greenish eyes were deep pools of beauty, even if they were unfocused due to the drugs he had administered.

Too unfocused? Perhaps I gave her a bit too much of the compliance drug?

No matter. She had already agreed to her participation in the ceremony. The hour was almost upon them, and he had only a few more preparations to make, mostly involving her placement on the altar.

He looked at her fondly. If he was capable of love, he may have loved this exquisite creature. As it was, he enjoyed her. And now she would be given to others to enjoy in manners that he could only imagine. And he would be rewarded for presenting her to them…

“You always wanted to walk down the aisle, my dear. Even though we say we are married, you have never made this walk. I wish you were more…aware. You might savor the moment.” He chuckled again, and they made their way to the front of the church, where he helped her up the steps and guided her to the front of the altar. He reached to her neck where the cloak was buttoned, and he unhooked the clasp. The dark garment fell to the ground, revealing a short white diaphanous gown.

“Perfect!” he smiled as he stepped back, taking her beauty in. “Lovely!” The gown hugged her figure in all of the right places, billowing around her hips and thighs.

He ran his hands over the young woman’s body, then, grasping her waist, lifted her onto the altar. “Lie down, my dear.”

The girl followed his instructions, stretching out on her back and placing her arms at her sides. The man smoothed her gown around her body and lifted her arms onto her stomach, crossing them there. He opened the bag which hung from his shoulder and withdrew two lengths of soft black rope. He used the first to bind her wrists and the second to tie her ankles.

“Comfortable?” he asked her. “Not too tight?”

She did not respond.

He nodded as if she had, removed a large black leather-bound book from the bag and placed it at her hip. Opening it, he extended his arms over her and chanted words that sounded much like a prayer. Just like the masses that are usually said in this place, he thought as he finished the first part of the ritual. He knew that if anyone was to come in and see him, they would assume he was a priest performing a service in private.

He waited, and so did his lovely faux-bride.

When he sensed that the time was right, he injected her with a counter-agent to reverse the effects of the drug he had administered earlier in her drink. She had not been aware that he had drugged her; she had simply become more and more compliant until the drug hit its full potential.

Oh, the things she would do while under the influence of that miracle drug…

But none of that mattered now. What mattered was that she was conscious and aware as he finished the ceremony. He watched as her eyes focused, looked at him and then at her surroundings and realized her predicament.

“What…?” she began, but he shushed her.

It’s time, my love,” he said. “This is the culmination of all that we’ve gone through. The time is right, the location is right, and you are right…”

He placed a hand on her forehead, holding her down against the altar as he intoned the words he had memorized so well. As he finished, he looked down at her and saw the fear in her eyes. He smiled.

There’s nothing to be afraid of here, my dear,” he reassured her. “But soon, your fear will do you no good.”

A shimmering on the left of the altar drew his attention, and he almost laughed. “It worked! I knew it would! Let us go, my dear, and hope that it is not a cell in Romania!”

He lifted her easily from her resting place. She didn’t resist as he carried her to the shimmering air, and both handsome man and beautiful young woman disappeared into thin air as he stepped into the shimmer…

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If that sounds interesting, sign up for the mailing list to know when RECIPROCAL EVIL is released at special limited time pricing.  Or just watch this page or like my page on Facebook, where information will also be posted.

Happy reading!

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