Tag Archives: fiction

Steven M. Moore’s REMBRANDT’S ANGEL is out!

Just a quick hit to let anyone reading this know that Rembrandt’s Angel by Steven M. Moore is out and available from Penmore Press.

I had the pleasure of reading this before it was published and can attest that it’s an excellent read.  Great characters and a tense situation with a broad plot that runs the principals all over Europe and the British Isles.

It’s available in trade paperback and as a Kindle e-book…

Here’s the link to the Kindle e-book:  Rembrandt’s Angel

Happy reading!

*****

Short Story: GRANDPA

This is the first short story in my collection 14 DARK WINDOWS. You can get it in its entirety if you download the free sample for Kindle, but I thought that maybe some people who don’t do Amazon or have a Kindle might want to read it.  I wrote it a long time ago as a contest entry where the first sentence and six additional words were given and you constructed a story around them.  Enjoy!

GRANDPA

“All the King’s Horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” Grandpa finished the rhyme and closed the book. “Well, Billy, what else would you like to do?”

Billy loved his grandfather. Grandpa always had time for a story, a game, or to simply talk. “I’ll do whatever you want to do, Grandpa.”

* * * * *

You can read the rest of this story by clicking this link or by going to “Stories” on the menu above and choosing “Grandpa.”

You can buy 14 DARK WINDOWS at Amazon by clicking this link:  14 DARK WINDOWS

* * * * *

Superheroes in Thriller Fiction

A few years back, I read three books in a row that sort of opened my eyes to the use of some sort of super human in crime/thriller fiction. The first was Greg Iles’ The Devil’s Punchbowl, the second was Robert Crais’ The First Rule, and the third was C.J. Box’s Cold Wind. Let me throw in Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series with this bunch.

It struck me as I read, that each hero/protagonist was aided by someone with almost superhuman abilities. In the three mentioned books all of them were Special Forces types. Iles’ main character is attorney Penn Cage, and I love his Natchez southern settings. In this book, however, Cage is up against really really bad guys involved with a floating casino, and he calls a guy to help out – an ex-Seal named Daniel Kelly. Kelly and his guys are so good it’s scary in itself. You’re certainly glad they’re on your side.

In the second book, Crais steps away from Elvis Cole, his usual protagonist, to allow Cole’s sidekick, Joe Pike, to move front and center. Pike is another Special Forces type, though I’m not sure about what branch. Totally confident and as tough as nails. And he’s got those Special Forces skills that make him seem invincible.

In the third book, CJ Box’s protagonist is a rather normal game warden named Joe Pickett. But Joe is friends with a guy named Nate Romanowski, who is wanted by the government. Nate is another scary-good ex-Special Forces type whose plans always seem to work out.

I threw in Bolitar’s name because he has his buddy Win Lockhorn, the prissy rich guy who (along with Myron) has some sort of Special Forces training and who also always seems to know he’s going to win. Fortunately for the good guys, he always has, so far.

Some of the other thriller series feature guys who are scary good at what they do, like Jack Reacher of the Lee Child series, or Lincoln Rhyme, the quadraplegic genius of Jeffrey Deaver’s books.

About the only guy who is really good but isn’t exactly a superhuman is Harry Bosch. But he’s close.

Just some stuff that crossed my mind as I knocked out those three books.  Does one “need” a superhero, invincible-type character in order to make things work in these sorts of thrillers?  If you can think of other examples, please post them in the comments.

*****

ODD MAN OUT – Prologue

(I have three new stories ready to go; I’m just dragging my feet on publishing them because I want to get a few other things in place before I start running them out there.  One is a long version of my short story “Odd Man Out,” which was published as a standalone (with another short story called “The House at the Bend in the Road”) and as part of the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  What follows is the Prologue of that story, which is novella-length (about 33,000 words, if I recall correctly).  Watch this space or sign up for my soon-to-come mailing list to find out when it is available on Amazon.

ODD MAN OUT

Prologue

Roger Sinclair checked the calendar that hung on the wall over his computer. October nineteenth. Only the nineteenth. It seemed that the thirty-first was taking forever to arrive this year. Time was dragging.

Anticipation had a way of making the passage of time seem very slow.

The Cabin Weekend was approaching, and Roger had big plans for the traditional yearly gathering of his friends.

Friends. That was a laugh. They didn’t like him any more than he liked them. They used him. They always had. Vinnie, Jack and Paul – they hung around with him – no, they let him hang around with them – because he was smart, dependable, and well-off. He made them feel superior – Look at rich, smart, loser Roger, who can’t get a girl and gets shunned by everyone…but us! We’ll take pity on the loser, and we’ll take advantage of his brains and his wealth.

Like the Cabin Weekend. They always went to Roger’s cabin. None of them had cabins. And why spend money on a real vacation when they could just sponge off Roger? Vinnie and Susan, Jack and Nancy, and Paul and whatever hot-looking hosebag he was dating at the moment.

Well, not this year. Paul wasn’t dating a hot-looking hosebag anymore. He was engaged. To Amy Wellington. Amy might be hot, but she was no hosebag. She was the epitome of class. She was the girl of Paul’s dreams, as Paul himself had pointed out.

She was also the girl of Roger’s dreams, but that was beside the point. Paul never cared about what Roger wanted, only what he wanted. He wanted Amy, so of course he ended up with her. That’s how it worked with Paul.

No matter that he had been Roger’s guest at a charity function when he met Amy. Paul had deigned to accompany Roger to the event when Roger’s own date fell through. ‘Fell through’ is sort of misleading. She dumped me on my ass, he remembered. Bitch.

Focus! Roger forced himself to get back on track with his thoughts. This wasn’t about Melissa, the stick-up-her-ass bitch that worked in the IT department of Roger’s family’s company. The point was Paul, and how he met Amy, and how he had practically run Roger over in his zeal to get to her first.

Paul knew that Roger saw her first, that Roger wanted to take a shot with her, but could Paul let him have a chance? No, of course he couldn’t. What Paul wants, Paul gets.

Roger’s fantasy was that Amy would see Paul for what he was and eventually they’d split up. It would be Paul’s fault, of course, and Roger would be there for Amy. He’d be the understanding friend she would need, the shoulder she could cry on, the guy who’d be there for her as she worked through the pain of their broken engagement. Of course it would end Paul’s friendship with Roger, but that was okay. It wasn’t a real friendship, and it had not been one for a long time. Ever since that day at the frat party back in college…

Focus! he told himself again. This isn’t about embarrassment that Paul caused him in college, this is about Amy Wellington. Paul’s fiancee. Roger’s one true love.

And the Cabin Weekend would be the time when things would turn in favor of Roger.

#

(To find out what happens at the Cabin Weekend, watch for ODD MAN OUT at Amazon or on these pages…)

Books, books and more books…

Whoa, it’s been almost a month since I posted anything here.

I’ve been writing a little, trying to get my ducks in a row for some sort of concerted effort to release four novellas/novels within a short time.  Working on my post-apocalyptic novel, which is part The Stand and part Wool.  (There are three ways to survive this apocalypse.  1.  Build a shelter.  2.  Be immune to this virus.  3.  Be invited.)    Reworking blurbs for those three novellas and one novel.

But I’ve been reading.

A short time ago, I posted that I’d read, and was impressed with, Ernest Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One.    I finished his second novel, a mashup of alien movie themes and stories, titled Armada.    I enjoyed it, not quite as much as the debut, but it was still a lot of fun.  Aliens are coming to destroy us, but we’ve known about it for the last forty years and have been preparing for the invasion.  And guess what?  We train our drone pilots by having them play video games.  Does that sound familiar?  Maybe something like The Last Starfighter?  It borrows, or pays homage, to that film along with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Contact and others.  It kept me (and my son) reading once we got into it.

I also picked up another book, one I’ve had sitting on the bookshelves since before Borders closed its doors (it still had the Borders sticker on it) called WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer.  I’ve always enjoyed Sawyer’s works, and this one ended up being really good.  A blind girl with a very specific and rare type of blindness gets an implant which allows the visual signals to be altered and transmitted through the optic nerve, and it also allows her to “see” the World Wide Web.  Through her enhanced awareness of the Web, she becomes aware of something – some entity – lurking in the background of that network, and whatever it is, it’s learning and becoming more aware of itself.  Interesting premise, well-executed, with good characters and a setup for future books.  I may read in in the three book series at some point.

My ebook reading included Fatally Bound by Roger Stelljes, a thriller featuring a couple of too-good-to-be-true sleuths/agents.  I liked it, and it worked on a number of levels as they work the investigation alongside an FBI task force to locate a serial killer who is targeting various women who seem to have no common features or connections between them.  Also I read another installment in Boyd Craven’s The World Burns serial, this the seventh story, titled The World Cowers.  I have come to know and care about his characters and I want to find out where he’s ultimately going with the tale.  Also finished Sleep Tight by Anne Frasier, another serial killer thriller, and also a pretty good read.  And I read Edward W. Robertson’s third Rebel Stars book, titled Ronin.   Enjoyed it quite a bit.  Good space opera.

There are others, but that’s a good summary of some of the books I’ve been reading.

*****

Pessimism in Science Fiction

I’ve been interested in the Walt Disney Corporation for some time now.  The whole history of the company and its genesis and growth to finally become the behemoth it is today fascinates me. I’ve gone to visit the parks several times as a adult (and parent) and enjoyed it every time, especially Epcot. I read a book called DISNEY WAR by James B. Stewart, and was doing some internet searches when I happened upon a blog called Re-Imagineering, which seems to mostly be a series of short essays about the problems with Disney as it exists today and what could be done to solve some of them.  The blog is basically dark today; it hasn’t had new content posted in years.

One of the old discussions (about Epcot) was talking about exhibits people would like to see, and what sorts of things they might try to freshen it up, make it less corporate in feel. It was also talking about Tomorrowland and its original optimism about our future. But that discussion shifted to some comments about the science fiction, especially in film, of today.  As an avid reader of SF and as an author, the discussion interested me enough to write this blog post about the topic.

It seems that most of today’s SF is dystopian, and that most of the film projects outside of stuff like STAR TREK and STAR WARS (not really SF in any classic sense) are very dark visions of the future. They named Blade Runner, Minority Report, AI, and The Matrix. (I’d say that Vanilla Sky, Dark City, and I, Robot are also fairly dystopian, along with stuff like Final Fantasy, Waterworld, all of the Terminators, The Postman, Battlefield Earth, and maybe even The Day After Tomorrow (though the last is not far in the future at all).)  There’s a bunch more SF films that I haven’t seen recently because I just don’t have the time to get to the movies or even watch them on TV.

As I think about the SF I’ve read in the not-too-distant past, first, there isn’t a whole lot of it. ALTERED CARBON was a good book but pretty dark. Dan Simmons’ HYPERION series and his latest pair, ILIUM and OLYMPOS, are not exactly happy fantasies of the future. I haven’t read much else in the field recently, sticking mostly to mysteries with some horror tossed in here and there.

Indie fiction introduces more variety, and more optimism, into its vision.  But even there, the story comes from the “negative.”  I’m thinking of Steven M. Moore’s THE CHAOS CHRONICLES and Edward W. Robertson’s REBEL STARS series.  There’s also Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, which is pretty darned negative for most of the series, right up until the very end.

As I think about it, my question is, is there a story in a utopian future? Is it a story I want to read about? Novels are about resolving problems. In some ways it seems to me that any story is essentially a mystery. If there is a mystery, there is a problem to be discovered and sorted through. If there are no problems to resolve, if everything is hunky dory, it might make for a nice pretty painting but is there any story? I don’t know. I was thinking about something like Asimov’s Empire series, and while there is a lot of optimism there with the direction of humanity, when the story takes place, things are not so good. Heinlein’s juveniles are more adventure story set in a fairly positively imagined future, but some of his adult works are a lot darker.

I see where they’re coming from with respect to Tomorrowland, they don’t want pessimism at Disney World, nor does it have a place. But I don’t see a story in a future where everyone is happy as clams. Those Morlocks in HG Wells’ novel weren’t all that happy, and the surface beings couldn’t have been thrilled with the status quo either. But THE TIME MACHINE wouldn’t make for a very good Disney ride.

*****

Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge – THE GOBLET OF LOST CHICAGO

Chuck Wendig put up a challenge to write a piece of flash fiction, around 2000 words, choosing one of the titles he provided.  So here’s my try at it.  It’s an odd piece, and I may try to rework it in the future, because I sort of like some of the ideas in it.  But I probably wrote this one in less than two hours…  I hope you can enjoy it!

THE GOBLET OF LOST CHICAGO

As the pair waited on the platform for the elevated train to arrive, the girl pointed to a sign on the opposite platform.

“What’s that mean, Grandpa?” she asked the older man standing next to her.

He strained his eyes to read the advertisement.  “The Goblet of Lost Chicago…hmm.  I never heard of it, Brie.”

****

(To read this story, look under the tab “Free Stories” above, or click this link…)

Still here…

I haven’t disappeared.  I just haven’t had anything much to post on the blog.  But I have been writing a bit, and reading quite a bit.  So I thought that I’d just sort of list some of the things I’ve been working on, and give a couple of shout-outs to books I’ve read as well.

I finished up a 27K horror novella called NEVER ENDING NIGHT.  Actually, it’s been finished for a while, but I finally went back and reread it and formatted it for uploading.  I played with some covers but I’m not sure I like them.

I’ve been writing on a post-apocalyptic tale that started life as a piece being written in Hugh Howey’s WOOL universe.  I finished the first part, about a group of college students who get wind of an upcoming “event” and try to build a shelter to wait it out.  Then, as I wrote that part, one of the college kids up and left without explanation, then so did her boyfriend, so I wrote their story as they are invited to a shelter in Texas.  Then I thought, nothing is 100% fatal except nerve gas, and so I made this one, like, 99.8% fatal, and another story I had started a while ago ended up being a story of some of the few survivors of this biological agent.  I’ve been writing on that one.  It’s been fun to tell these stories.

Also a while ago, I decided to expand ODD MAN OUT into a longer story, perhaps a novella or a short novel.  So I’ve been working on that one somewhat diligently.  I’m around 21,500 words now (the original story was something around 1800 words, I think).

Then I started something set in the fictional upstate NY community of Addison Falls.  The shared world comes from back in the 1990’s when a bunch of us on a Delphi forum called The Horror Discussion Group created a bunch of common characters along with our own original characters in order to write stories set in this world.  Well, the stories (for the most part) died when the forum became inactive after the host (Bookhound) passed away at a very young age.  I have a story in my DIE 6 collection that was written back around that time in Addison Falls (THE GHOST TRAIN), and I thought that it might be fun to write a novel set in that town.  I decided to once again do missing kids, but this time I am going to focus on a math teacher at the high school and his friend/something more(?) newspaper reporter.  I’ve written about 18K words in that story, and I’ve been adding to it a little at a time.  No end is in sight.

Last, I started a story back in the late 1980’s that was also postapocalyptic, set in a small Wisconsin town after a disease claims all the adults.  I decided to expand that one as well, including three more settings, and bouncing back and forth between the four places to tell the story of kids coming together and conflicting in each.  I now call it INHERIT THE EARTH, and I think it’s pretty interesting.  (I tossed out all the boring parts and rewrote most of it.)  I think it stands at something around 20K or maybe a bit more.  No end in sight on this one, either.

Reading:  I’ve knocked out some pretty good books.  I read all of Kate Wrath’s E series, five books in all.  I finished Orson Scott Card’s VISITORS and Paul Draker’s NEW YEAR ISLAND (wish I would have tried that one sooner, because it was really good).  I read William Malmborg’s Halloween homage, SANTA TOOK THEM, and J. Stirling Robertson’s SEPSIS.  Then I finished two or three Robert Crais books, including the non-Pike, non-Cole book SUSPECT.  Lots of good reads in there.  Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head and skimming the Kindle.

I hope to be a bit more active here in the future.  And I hope to have a new book announcement soon.

Take care.

*****

 

“E” by Kate Wrath

While perusing the “also viewed by” selections that Amazon provided on one of my own stories (I was either looking at THE INN or at the recently-free JACK’O’LANTERN and Other Stories) I came across a couple of selections that were listed as free.  The covers on two in particular grabbed me (plus the fact that they were free) so I investigated further, and upon a cursory read of the description I downloaded both.  (Hey, it cost me nothing, right?)

Here’s the Amazon description for Kate Wrath’s book E:

Life is harsh. It makes no exceptions. Not even for the innocent.

Outpost Three: a huddle of crumbling buildings choked by a concrete wall. Cracked pavement, rusted metal, splintering boards. Huge robotic Sentries police the streets, but the Ten Laws are broken every time one turns its back.

Eden is determined, smart, and a born survivor. Stripped of her memories and dumped on the streets of the Outpost, slavers and starvation are only the beginning of her problems. A devastating conflict is coming that threatens to consume her world and tear her newfound family apart.

Does that make you want to read it?  It worked for me.  I like dystopian fiction.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I’m a sucker for futuristic extrapolations.  And the description gave me some of those:  an Outpost (this being #3, I’m curious about the others), robotic Sentries (advanced AI tech?), the Ten Laws (political commentary?), and crumbling infrastructure (again, political commentary?).  It also promises an interesting character with a lot at stake in Eden (hence the title “E?”).

I’ve started HORNS by Joe Hill, but it’s a paper version, and I can’t read it in bed.  So out comes the Kindle, and the first thing there is Wrath’s novel.  So I opened it up, and started reading.

Kate Wrath grabbed me from the first paragraph.  “I wake up in a box of iron.  I know nothing, remember nothing.  There is one thought imprinted on my consciousness:  You have been erased.”  From there it is compelling reading.  A picture of a society comes out through her protagonist’s (Eden’s) experiences as she struggles to survive in those first moments after finding herself deposited in this area like so much garbage.  The author uses language beautifully to convey the character and setting but she never loses sight of the story and plot as things set up.

I wanted to find out more about the society and more about Eden herself.

It isn’t a perfect novel, but what is?  I just finished NOS4A2 by the acclaimed Joe Hill, and it was far from a perfect novel.  For me, for my reading experience, Wrath’s E was the better novel.  So what makes it flawed?  For me (and your mileage may vary depending on where you come from as a reader), the novel began to suffer from some pacing problems at about the same time as the romantic triangle between Eden, Matt (who runs Outpost 3 and who doesn’t seem to be a good person) and Jonas (her protector, a man with secrets) came into full swing.  Suddenly Eden’s thoughts turned from survival and from her family and to her feelings for these men more and more.  For me, it bogged down the narrative.  I liked the problem-focused style of the first half better.  For me, it seemed like it changed Eden from this strong force of nature to … something else.

It wasn’t a fatal flaw in any sense.  The story continued to progress, just at a slightly slower pace, and finally wrapped up in a sensible, satisfying conclusion.  I immediately downloaded Book 2, Evolution, and am already a few pages into it.

One question I had as I read was, “Is this a young adult novel, or does it aim for an adult audience?”  I felt that it pretty much worked on the YA level as well as on an adult level, but usually the protagonist in YA is a teen.  (Thinking of Katniss and Tris here.)  In this book, I had the idea that Eden is a beautiful 20-something woman.  Maybe early 20’s, but not exactly a teenager.  Maybe I’m wrong.  In the end, it didn’t make a difference.

I’ll be posting a quickie version of this review on Amazon (when I get around to it) and will likely be giving the book five stars.  I think it deserves that rating, even if it weren’t a first novel.  I hope that the rest of the series can keep up the standard.

E by Kate Wrath.  Available at Amazon’s Kindle store as well as other places.

*****

About THE INN…

My book THE INN now has 4 reviews (three of which have text), all 5-star ratings.  J. Michael Major, author of ONE MAN’S CASTLE, had this to say about it:

Talk about the band trip from hell! Young and beautiful student teacher Kimberly Bouton rides along with the high school band from Minnesota to Alabama. But one of the stops along the way is an inn where creepy things have started to occur. Miss Bouton and other band members wake up sore and with headaches. Is someone at the inn abusing the women in their sleep? Dyson cleverly weaves a great tale with events in the news that quickly escalate out of control. Filled with twists and turns, you won’t want to put this one down!

(Check out his book, for a good serial killer book that focuses on some interesting issues!)

Another reader identified as “Anne” posted this about the book:

Really enjoyed this short but scary read. Extremely well-written — and difficult to put down. The characters were compelling, and the suspense was thrilling. A perfect story for a night by the fire.

It was nice to hear that a reader thought it was extremely well-written. I try…

And finally, Steven M. Moore, author of too many books to count, including his latest, FAMILY AFFAIRS, wrote this about it on his blog:

Scott Dyson, author (Deadlock Press, 2015).  Is this the longest story I’ve read by Mr. Dyson?  It’s a novella, and there’s a lot of horror, mystery, suspense, and thrills in these few pages.  I loved it, and It’s not a genre I often read (the horror part).  No zombies, vampires, or werewolves (thank God!), just one seemingly ordinary human being doing horrible things to other human beings.  Some scenes reminded me of Hayton’s novel Breathe and Release reviewed here and that real life atrocity with the three girls in Ohio.

The band director, his student teacher (a woman not much older than the students), and the band are on a road trip.  They plan to perform and then spend a day at a nearby amusement park, crashing two nights in the inn.  I can’t say much more without writing spoilers, but I will send out a warning: if you were a member of a high school band, any nostalgia might fly out the window as your read this.  Or, some readers might say, “This is a lot more exciting than our band trips were.”  Mr. Dyson’s writing is fresh and original.  Fans of the genre will enjoy this one. (Rating?  How would you rate the TV show Dexter?)

So there are three very positive reviews of THE INN.  Thanks to those reviewers for taking the time to read and review it!

Here’s another from Mit Sandru, author of the VLAD vampire series and TIME HOLE, among others:

This is another fine novel written by Scott Dyson. While reading I had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading a Stephen King or Dean Koontz horror novel, but and equally well written book by Scott.

I love it! I’ve been compared to King and Koontz! Two of the best ever, in my opinion!

I thought I’d toss some stuff up here about the background of writing THE INN.  I flew through it; the story seemed to write itself.  I went back and added in the material about St. Louis and the store where my main character purchases the flute pendant after the first draft was completed.  I tried to give a little more depth to the parent-chaperones, who were barely mentioned in the first draft.  And I fleshed out a few of the students a bit more in the narrative, making them more than just names that passed by in the story.

The idea to write it came after I finished a book called TEXT MESSAGE by William Malmborg.  In that book, Malmborg describes a college student who loses her younger sister at the mall, and then begins receiving text messages from her sister’s phone telling her to do embarrassing things (mostly of a sexual nature) or bad things will happen to the sister.  When the girl refuses, the bad guy (girl?) texts a photo of the sister with a finger cut off.  So the girl follows instructions to the letter, and…well, it goes on from there.

I thought, after reading it, that I could probably write something similar, and started thinking about storylines.  I thought of a motel or an inn (instead of a school or a mall) where bad things happen, and then I flashed back to a recurring concern I have when I’m in a motel room — that somehow they have surveillance cameras in the rooms.  I mean, how would you know unless you start tearing the room apart?

It so happened that band trips came to mind, and I combined the two things — a band trip to a motel with something of that nature in some of the rooms.  I recalled certain things about my own band trips as a high school student, and about more current band trips and how they are organized, and out came the story.

It ended up being something around 37,000 words, give or take.  After about six months of polishing, getting input from my beta reader, and repolishing, I finally came up with an idea for the cover.  I searched out images that would fit what I was picturing, and I think what I came up with is pretty close to my original idea.

It hasn’t sold well…two copies in October and eleven copies in September, at least at Amazon.com (not sure about the other Amazons in the UK or other countries), but it’s been getting some KU page reads — over a thousand last month and over five hundred so far this month.  My shorter novella THE CAVE (about 25,000 words) has been read in KU a few times as well, although it has only sold one copy in two months.

So that’s the long story behind THE INN.  I’m currently working on a long version of ODD MAN OUT, and am polishing a couple of other things that are done.

Looking forward to getting some more things out.  Till then, try one of my other books!  They’re still all only $0.99, which is a huge bargain.  (THE INN is going to go up to $1.99 soon…)

Oh, and do yourself a service and read FAMILY AFFAIRS, TIME HOLE, and ONE MAN’S CASTLE.  All three are excellent books!

*****