Tag Archives: Scott Dyson

Short Story: THE BAD COP

I wrote this story for a contest back in September of 1996, and found it in my archives a few days ago.  I did a very minimal amount of rewriting but didn’t change too much.  I’d write it differently today, probably, but I don’t think it’s terrible for flash fiction from my earliest days of attempting to write.  So here’s THE BAD COP:

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THE BAD COP

“If you open your mouth again, I’ll have to shut it for you.”  The man in the police uniform spoke in a low voice, intending to intimidate Joe, and the rest of us were too cowed by the badge to interfere.  We all watched silently as Joe backed down.

It wasn’t every day that a cop showed up at a party and started hitting on our female friends.  No one knew what to make of it.  So we had ignored him, for the most part.  After all, cops are the good guys.  We’d just partied on, like he wasn’t there, or like his presence was a normal thing.

But that was before he’d started hitting on Joe’s girlfriend.  And Joe, who had already drank his share of beer by that point in the party, was just reckless enough to confront the officer.

“Just what the hell you think you’re doing?” Joe had asked belligerently  “She’s with me.”  Terri, his steady girl, had backed away as the cop spun to face him.  She saw the look in the cop’s eyes first.  When he turned, though, the rest of us saw what she must have seen.  They say the eyes are windows to the soul.  If that’s true, this guy’s soul was full of mayhem.

Joe hadn’t noticed, I guess, or else he just didn’t care.  “You think you can just crash in here and hit on our women, you better think again.”

The cop spoke those words about shutting Joe’s mouth for him, and I think that’s when he noticed the look in the guy’s eyes.  Joe backed away.  But the cop’s gaze still held him.

“Outside, asshole,” said the cop, pointing at the door.

Joe was blinking his eyes a lot, as if something blurred his vision.  “I ain’t goin’ anywhere,” he finally said.  “You go right on outside by yourself.”

“Wimp,” the cop retorted.  “Gutless.”

I could see Joe getting angrier and angrier, as the cop kept up the verbal abuse.  But he was afraid.  Heck, we all felt for  him.  We were all just glad it wasn’t us that the cop was goading.  Finally, Joe turned and headed for the door.  Evidently, he decided that he couldn’t take getting dissed like that in front of all his friends, especially in front of his lady.

I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but when the cop moved to follow him, he reached down and unsnapped the leather strap which held his gun in place.  It took a minute for the action to register with me, but when it did, I turned to Rich, who was standing next to me, watching the scene as intently as I was.

“He’s gonna kill him,” I said.  Rich looked at me like I had just told him that aliens were landing out back by the swimming pool.  “I’m serious,” I said.  “He’s going for his gun.”  I started toward the door, following them, and when I moved, it was as if the spell was broken and everyone
at the party followed.

I was almost to the door when the shot rang out.  “Oh, God,” I said.  “Joe…”

What I saw when I got outside appalled me.  The cop was bent over Joe’s prone form, and  he was fitting Joe’s fingers around a gun.  He looked up, and he knew that I knew what he was doing, somehow.  He raised his gun up, pointed it at me, and said, “Get back inside.”  I just stood there.

Terri had by now come outside, and she screamed as she saw Joe’s lifeless form sprawled on the lawn, gun clearly visible in his hand, just as the cop had placed it.

“You shut up with that screaming,” the cop said, “or I’ll have to shut you up too.”  Terri’s shrieks had degenerated into sobs, by now, and the cop looked at all of us, waving the gun.  “Everyone,” he said, standing.  “Back inside.”

“Joe didn’t have a gun,” said Terri.  “Where did he get a gun?”  She was not quite hysterical; the obvious flaw with the picture had cut right through to the thinking parts of her brain.

“It’s a plant,” I whispered.  We allowed ourselves to be herded back inside.  When we all got inside, the cop announced, “You’re all under arrest.”

“For what?” someone, I think it was Marie, asked.

“Illicit drugs,” he answered.  There were, of course, no illegal drugs on the premises.  Nothing but alcohol, unless you count the caffeine in the coffee and the cokes, and Rich pointed it out.

The cop walked over to the sofa, where he reached his hand under the cushions and pulled out a baggie of something.  I couldn’t tell what from where I stood.  “What’s this, smart guy?”

“He just put it there!” exclaimed Brian Cleary, who was closest to the scene.  “I saw him!”

“Shut up,” ordered the cop, “unless you want me to shut you up as well, and find some illicit drugs on you, too.”  Brian paled, and said nothing.

“There’s more in the bathroom, I think,” mused the cop.  “And you have some on you, too,” he said.  He was looking at me.

I backed away.  I saw him plant the gun.  He was going to make me come out dirty, so my word wouldn’t mean much against his.   He started toward me.

“You killed him,” I said.  He laughed at me.

My reactions took over.  I turned and bolted through the kitchen, but the shot froze me in my tracks.  The bullet thunked into the wall in front of me.  The roar of the gunshot reverberated through my head.  I looked around.  My friends, the party guests, were totally motionless.

“Freeze or you’re dead,” the cop shouted.  He again began to advance on me.

“Why are you trying to railroad us?” I yelled back, panic-stricken.  “Who invited you anyway?”

“I invited myself,” he said quietly.  “And I decided I don’t like any of you.”

Behind him I saw Terri move.  Quietly she picked up a big chunk of glass or quartz or something that adorned the mantel.  She moved quickly, and suddenly brought the heavy clear object down on the cop’s head from behind him.  He never noticed her.

He went down like a tree struck by lightning.  Fibroid material seeped from the wound on the back of his skull.  It was deep.

Terri looked at what she had wrought.  “Is he…”

I finally was able to move.  I checked his pulse.  It was weak.  “Not yet.”

She sighed, though I couldn’t tell if it was with relief or disappointment.

Rich finally came alive.  “Call the police!” he said, and then picked up the phone himself, poking at the buttons.  “Line’s dead,” he informed us.

I picked up the walkie talkie that the cop carried, and looked at instructions on how to operate it, or what megahertz the police broadcasted upon.  It didn’t take long for me to figure it out.  I turned it on and it whirred to life, spewing cop-jargon.  I pushed in the talk button and sent out our SOS.

More cops showed up pretty quickly.  They looked suspiciously at the two bodies, but our party-crasher still had drugs on him, and we all told the same story.  Meanwhile, an ambulance took the still-unconscious cop to the hospital and Joe to wherever they take dead bodies.  Terri had
broken down and was still sobbing as they loaded her boyfriend’s body into the other vehicle.

We spent the next three hours being questioned, one by one, by police officers.  But everyone stuck to their stories, which was easy to do since the stories were true.  I wondered what the bad cop would say if and when he regained consciousness.  I thought that it would likely center on me as the scapegoat.

I hoped that it wouldn’t come back to haunt me.  But I was almost certain that it would.

All of my friends were stunned, the pleasant buzz from alcohol consumption a distant memory.  It’s funny how being shot at and terrorized will do that to a person.  We left the party, one by one, as the investigating officers dismissed us.

I guess we all learned that monsters can come out in darkness or in sunshine.  And they sometimes hide behind that which we trust and depend upon.  I guess the blue of the policeman’s uniform did a good job of masking the black of his heart.

We all will remember that for a long time.

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I hope you found that story mildly entertaining and just a touch disturbing.  I wrote it a long time ago, but the subject matter makes it seem like it’s more recent, I think.  I’ll leave it up here for a week or so, then will put it under the FREE STORIES tab above.  Thanks for reading!

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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.”

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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

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Publishing Paralysis

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not published anything…ANYTHING…in 2016.  It’s not for a lack of things to publish.  I currently have four works ready to go.  They are, in no particular order, ODD MAN OUT, RECIPROCAL EVIL, THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT, and finally, DEAD OR ALIVE.  Most are novella-length; RECIPROCAL EVIL is a bit over 50,000 words, while ODD MAN OUT clocks in at about 33,000.  I think that both DEAD OR ALIVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT are around the same length:  approximately 27,000 words.

I have been writing.  I have a YA novel finished called THE SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD:  CIBOLA which is about 53,000 words.  I am about 68,000 words into an untitled end-of-the-world novel which was inspired by Hugh Howey’s WOOL.  I’m working on a longer vampire novel which would follow DEAD OR ALIVE and a horror story set in a fictional town called Addison Falls.  I’ve also been tinkering with a series that I started with my son a couple years ago, called THE NINE KEYS.  The first of that series is basically finished, and it is something around 68,000 to 70,000 words in length.  The second is about 20,000 words at this point and has a long way to go.  I also started a space opera novel but that’s stalled out at around 17,000 words at the moment.

Covers are done for three of the four ready-to-go works, editing and formatting are done for all four.  So what’s the holdup, you might ask (assuming that “you” are reading this and are interested in reading what I’m writing)?

I haven’t been selling much (okay, I really haven’t been selling anything!) and I need to do something different.  One option is to give up.  Or keep doing what I’ve been doing, which involves tossing up my writing, offering it for sale, and having no one actually find any of it.

The second option is to try to form a better foundation.  So far I have only published ebooks and only at Amazon.  So, my foundation is this blog/website, my Amazon author page, and my Facebook page.  I have, like, 64 followers on Facebook.  Not enough.  And depending on Facebook to get the word out is a crapshoot.  When I look at how many people view my posts on my Scott Dyson page there, often it’s like 7, or 13, or at best low 20’s.  So of those 64 people, only a small percentage even SEE my notifications when I publish.  Without paying FB to show the post to more people, I guess that’s about the best one can do there.

I am thinking of doing Instagram, just for my cover photos.  I have thought about taking down my collections and publishing the individual works for free on Wattpad, but after looking around there, I didn’t have much luck finding a lot of stuff I wanted to read.  I went specifically looking for my friend Steve Moore’s work there, and I didn’t find it with their search functions.  So I wonder how effective that will be for what I write.

I try to “network” with other writers as much as possible.  I will promote authors’ works (assuming they are something I like and read) here on these pages, with FB posts, and in any other way that comes up, and I have a few author-friends who have helped me out as well.  But I don’t think our audiences cross over very much, or at least what I write is not necessarily of interest to their audiences.  I read so broadly and across so many genres that I am happy to promote their stuff; even more, I WANT to suggest and recommend good reads to my friends.  I think that maybe if I could network with some horror authors, it would work better.  I have tried with a couple, but they don’t seem interested in reciprocating.

But the biggest thing I want to do is set up a mailing list.  And I don’t really know how to go about it.  I mean, signing up is easy.  And it seems that putting the widget on the website is not a big challenge either.  But most authors I’ve spoken to who use mailing lists effectively offer a free work, and all I have are mobi’s of my works.  I’d certainly be willing to offer one or both of my short story collections, or even one of my novellas, for free as an incentive to sign up for the list, but as I have not used any of the software (Vellum, Sigil, Calibre) that apparently can generate ebooks in various formats, I don’t know how to get these files to give away.

As a mailing list builds, eventually you have a ready-made list of people who are interested in receiving information about your releases, and maybe, just maybe, you can sell enough books upon release to push your work into some sort of visibility on Amazon.    I think that this sounds like the best way to increasing sales and visibility.

I also plan on giving away both of my short story collections (as they’re both in Amazon Kindle Select and in KU) and I want to try a FB experiment, ask some friends if they’d share the links to the free books, see if I can give away a bunch more than I usually do.  Watch this page for announcements about those giveaways, or if you’re a Facebook friend, watch my feeds there.

Anyway, I’m going to try to break the paralysis in the next month or two, and get this stuff out there for anyone and everyone to read.  If anyone is interested, that is…

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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.

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(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.

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Upcoming releases

I haven’t disappeared…not completely, anyway.

I’ve just been busy.  And when I’ve had time to write, it’s been mostly spent editing three separate works.   And now, all three are very close to being released for Kindle.  Here are the titles:

  • ODD MAN OUT – a 32K novella which is expanded from the short story of the same name
  • NEVER ENDING NIGHT – a 27K horror novella
  • RECIPROCAL EVIL – an almost-50K short horror novel

As I mentioned, ODD MAN OUT started life as an 1800 word short story, released as an ebook combined with the short story HOUSE AT THE BEND IN THE ROAD.  Both stories can also be found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  I thought that ODD MAN OUT would make a good novella, or at least a much longer short story (sort of how DEAD OR ALIVE, originally a 2400 word short story, became a 7600 word short story on the rewrite).  It ended up coming in at over 30K words, and tells the story of how the main character (not named in the short version, but named Paul in this longer version) comes to be…well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil it.  Suffice it to say that a weekend retreat with college friends doesn’t go the way Paul wants it to when he brings his fiancee for the first time.  His friend Roger wants her, and he’ll go to any extreme lengths to get her.

NEVER ENDING NIGHT was inspired by a Richard Laymon story I read (but can’t recall the title of) where a night goes on and on.  I thought about something like that — what if night never ended in a suburban town?  So I started writing from the POV of a high school girl (age 15) and it started as a diary kept by the girl where she rambles about her friends and her family and about what’s going on in their neighborhood when the sun just doesn’t come out one morning.  Then I interspersed those diary entries through the third person narrative, which alternates between the girl’s POV and some of the neighbors’ POV’s.  Bad things happen when the masks of some people in the neighborhood come off when they believe that some sort of apocalypse is coming and the rule of law has broken down…

The last, RECIPROCAL EVIL, is about a college kid, Chris, who experiences a campus murder as a dream, and is surprised to find out that the dream really happened.  Why is he sharing dreams with some serial killer?  He’s drawn further in when his girlfriend’s roommate disappears.  And when the killer contacts him, he learns some things about his own background, about his family, and about his younger sister, believed to be traveling the world and having the time of her life.  But is that true?  And who is the killer’s next target?

There you have it.  Three soon-to-be-released novellas/novels.  See, I haven’t been completely idle in terms of my writing!

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ODD MAN OUT long version is done!

Well, not done exactly, but the story is finished. It needs editing and other such stuff, but I wrote “The End” yesterday at a little over 33K words. It felt good. I knew there was a longer story in there when I started thinking about it, but wasn’t sure how much longer. Was I talking about 12K words? 20K words? I was thrilled to find out that it ended up a little over 33K. And I like it. I think it holds together pretty good and tells an interesting story.

I’m going to unpublish the short version sometime very soon, but it will be included at the end of the novella and will still be available in 14 DARK WINDOWS. Look for it in the upcoming months!

*****

THE INN price increase…

The Inn Cover 4
Today is the last day that THE INN will be priced at $0.99. 

In case you aren’t aware, THE INN is a 37000 word horror novella.  The description from its Amazon blurb:

BAND TRIP TO PERIL…

The Jackson High School Band and student director Kimberly Bouton are making their biennial journey to a music festival in the deep South for fun and educational opportunities. Kim expects to deal with hormonal teenagers, a severe lack of sleep, and long boring bus rides, but the roadside inn where the band stays on their visit hides a sinister secret – and it translates to unimagined horrors for students and teachers alike…

Check into THE INN, where the guests are the entertainment…

Tomorrow it will go up to $1.99.  So if you see this today and you were thinking that you might want to grab it, procrastinate no longer!

My 25000 word novella THE CAVE will remain priced at $0.99, as will all of my short fiction and short fiction collections.

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Giveaway results

It isn’t the first time I’ve given JACK’O’LANTERN (and other stories) away.  But it’s a Halloween story, and I think it’s pretty good.   The title story was published on a magazine/blog site called “Friendly Fiction” a few years back, and the site’s editor had a go at it, suggesting changes.  I made several at that time, and ignored a few that I disagreed with.  The result was a fairly tight story.  I connected it with two other Holiday stories, THE MOMENT (about a junior high student who finally finds the courage to ask his crush to dance at the school Halloween mixer, through the anonymity of a costume) and SARAH’S PUPPY (where a little girl hears the barking of a puppy that she’s hoping she’ll get for Christmas and meets a bearded stranger by the tree in her living room), because all of them feature younger children and holidays, even though only the title story is horror.

So, for Halloween, I decided to give it away again.  What the heck? I thought.  Maybe someone will like the stories enough to buy the collection that it’s also a part of, 14 DARK WINDOWS(No one did.)  But I also put in sample chapters of both of my $0.99 novellas, THE INN and THE CAVE.  My hope is that someone will read the three short stories, read the sample chapters and be interested enough to check out the novellas.  Maybe realize that they’re bargain basement priced at $0.99, and will buy one or both.

As it turns out, I did sell one copy of THE INN during the giveaway.  Whether it was because of the short story giveaway, who knows?

All in all, I gave away something like 33 copies of the collection, which is back up to $0.99 today.  Would I buy it myself for $0.99?  No.  I’d spend that same $0.99 and buy the collection mentioned above.  I clearly state as the first line in the story trio’s description that it is part of that collection and that the collection also costs only $0.99.

The pattern was something like this:  Thursday, 8 free copies were downloaded, with virtually no promotion besides mentioning it on Facebook.  And I think the downloads occurred before I even made the Facebook post.  On Friday, 6 free copies.  Saturday, only 1 copy was downloaded.  I posted pictures later on Friday of my own pumpkin carvings on my Scott Dyson page, with another link to the giveaway title.  On Sunday the number went back up to 5 free downloads.

Then on Monday, I thought to mention it on Goodreads, in a group I lurk within called Horror Afficionados.  As a direct result of that mention, 13 more copies were downloaded.  More to the point, they were downloaded by people who like horror, if I can safely assume that those who read the post in the promotion topic on the bulletin board.  I can only hope that they get around to reading them and like the sample chapters enough to try my novellas.

So the promotion is done for now.

I’ve been thinking about a topic for a post soon about how I personally rank the elements of a novel when I’m reading it.  Still thinking about how to organize it.

Till then, have a great day.

*****

JACK’O’LANTERN (and THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY) free on 10/29!

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made my short story trio containing JACK’O’LANTERN, THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY free for five days, starting Thursday, 10/29/15, till Monday, 11/2/15.  It’s been free before, but this time it contains sample chapters from my novellas THE INN and THE CAVE.

Jackolantern updated cover

All three stories are also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS, which is priced at only $0.99 and will continue to be priced there for the foreseeable future.

Grab it while it’s free! If you like it, grab something else as well! Thanks for reading!

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