Sunday, January 31, 2016

Midnight Harvest Interrupted - @flashmobwrites

I had some time open up on Saturday afternoon to participate in this week's FlashMob Flash Fiction Challenge

Midnight Harvest Interrupted


Percy abided and paused sweeping the bones into the canvas bag. His hands shook. Not with the fear of having been caught after midnight in mid-harvest , but with the palsy that drove him to this depraved practice.

“I said halt!” the caretaker commanded again.

“I cannot,” Percy admitted, still shaking.

The grungy mausoleum attendant’s patched boots creaked as he approached the intruder. “I know who you are.”

“You must understand,” Percy started. The tremors in his body increased, making it hard to speak without interruption. “I. . . I . . . this is a compulsion. A curse.”

“You’ve been here before.” The caretaker raised his lantern in the dark room to Percy’s face. The crypt robber thought the man would recoil at his wasted appearance. “Yup, I’ve seen you.”

“Please let me f, f, f. . . finish what I have to do.”

“And what’s that?” the man with the lamp asked.

“I don’t want you to see.” Percy lifted one of the bones from the stone vault he’d pried open. It was a curved jawbone with three teeth remaining.

“You can’t come here no more.”

Percy’s quaking slowed as he brought the jawbone to his mouth. The bone smelled dry and earthy as like a preserved mushroom. It would taste the same.

“Stop that.”

Percy ignored the man, plucking the remaining teeth from their sockets. He trembled as he popped each one into his mouth in an attempt to calm his shaking body. He swallowed the little bones whole before sliding jawbone into his mouth.
The light in the room violently swung from ceiling to floor. Percy registered, too late, that the lamp in the caretaker’s hand was swinging over the man’s head. The glass oil chamber in the lamp shattered upon impact with the bone eater and fire poured over the man, knocking the bone from his mouth.

The caretaker was quick to push the bones away from the burning man with his boot, and then clear the canvas back away from the spreading fire. The bone eater himself remained calm despite the blistering and cracking from the flames. He laid flat as his body increased its tremors. Beyond the caretaker’s panicked breathing, the room was starkly silent. The man on the floor closed his eyes and mouthed “thank you.”

The light dwindled as there was less of Percy to fuel the fire. The room started shaking, signaling the reemergence of the daemon Percy thought he could imprison in his own pure vessel. The caretaker would find out soon enough if he was made of a stronger mettle than the once-monk as the daemon, once liberated, would look for a new host.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Separation Across Eras - @microcosmsfic

Nearly missed the chance to write for this week's Microcosms Flash Fiction challenge.

Separation Across Eras 

The capsule was warm to the touch. It was Edna’s first indication of a larger problem. Someone with access to the laboratory had recently used her machine. The vials of bubonic plague inoculations she’d taken great pains to secure from a myriad of underground channels were also missing from the attache she’d intended to take on her one way trip back to Europe. Stepping into the small time machine she found the note her ex-husband and engineering partner had left her:

 If you want your alimony, come back to 1473 and get it from me.

Friday, January 29, 2016

GGR Sale Email Update

Guns, Gods & Robots On Sale for A Limited Time!

Guns, Gods & Robots is $.99 on Amazon until 1/30

Hello readers! Thanks for all of the kind notes on Guns, Gods & Robots over the last month. I am always surprised which of my stories are most popular for each reader. It seems that there's something for everyone in my first collection. 

In order to get the word out even more people, I've put GGR on sale on Amazon for $.99 through Jan 30th. Tell your friends to raid their children's piggy banks and download before it's too late.

Download Guns, Gods & Robots here.


FlashDogs: Time Available 2/8

I have three new never-before-published stories included in this year's FlashDogs compilation. There other writers in this collection are great and really push this year's theme to the limit. All book royalties are donated to The Book Bus. 

Preorder FlashDogs: Time here.

Cloverfield Coincidence?

A farmhouse. . .  a hole in the ground. . .  lots of green. . . what else does the new Cloverfield movie have in store?

More here.

#GGR Interview w/ J. David Core - @gamutman @TandMPodcast

Via Twitter on 01.21.2016
1 retweet

Thinking of hosting a
limited run flash
fiction contest. Need to
figure out judges and
marketing. @FlashDogs

Via Twitter on 01.26.2016
1 retweet

#GGR Notes: Sangrimal

Via Twitter on 01.25.2016

Bait & Switch -

Via Twitter on 01.27.2016

New short stories, flash fiction, writing notes and more!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

#GGR Interview w/ Emily June Street - @EmilyJuneStreet

Emily June Street interviewer me for Guns, Gods & Robots. Have you seen her latest book The Velocipede Races? The cover alone if a thing of beauty.

Anyway, among other topics, in this interview I reveal my favorite science fiction story. Even thinking about it now makes a tingle run up my spine!

Emily June Street

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bait & Switch - @LadyHazmat

Taken a couple weeks off from The Angry Hourglass. Here's this week's return to the ring.

Bait and Switch

The poison had been much sweeter than Gene had anticipated. The mayor had promised that the pint would at least be fifty percent high octane vodka, but the solution has been so treackly, that he had a hard time believing there was any alcohol in the mix at all.

He tried to concentrate on the receding tide in front of him, specifically the remaining post from the pier his father had told him about. The fishing platform had been knocked down well before he was born, back when people were still brave enough to harvest food from the sea. The single post phased into three posts and he knew that there indeed had been alcohol in his drink. His vision continues to dissolve the beach sunset in front of him.

On the beach though, his book was useless. Gene wanted to read this volume of poems as he waited for the poison to seep through his body, but he couldn’t find the focus he needed to even make sure he was holding the paperback right side up.

Of all the people no doubt watching him from a safe distance, he sincerely hoped the Mayor had the best view. It had been his scheme after all, and the man needed to ultimately be the one accountable if this didn’t work. The pool of applicants for this year’s harvest had been smaller than ever. Parents turned a blind eye to their teen’s promiscuity if in ensured they wouldn’t be in consideration when it came to the yearly harvest. Gene, was more in love with the ruins of the library than any girl he’d met on the island, so when the yearly cull identified the sacrificial virgins, he was one of the few to step forward.

They’d tried using a non-virgin in the past, and lost the fishing pier and scores of the population in the monster’s retribution. Despite a lifetime in the ocean, the abomination could smell the difference between the two. The tide had receded to the post and Gene’s destiny emerged from the ocean. He clutched his book and hoped the poison would be enough to kill the thing.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#GGR Notes: Sangrimal

Each week after release, I'm sharing notes on each of the stories in my new collection Guns, Gods and Robots along with a song recommendation or two that might share a theme or tone with the story.


This has had the longest gestation period of all the stories in the collection. The original version of Sangrimal actually began well after the events of this story transpired. The lead characters had to piece this story together a la Rashomon. In the decade I've been noodling with the story, I landed on a taking the most direct path possible with the story by focusing on Katie.

Matthew Sweet - Devil With the Green Eyes
Bodies of Water - It Moves

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Giftless - @scottishbktrust

Here's a hard bit of flash from the Scottish Book Trust. A flash story based on an image prompt limited to exactly 50 words.


Her parents called them gifts: Purifying organics that naturally cleared airborne pollutants. Technology that uploaded eighteen years of schooling directly into children’s brains. Even new desserts. Claire locked herself in her room. Of all the things the aliens brought with them, there was still no cure for her first breakup.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Courtship of Vernon - @MicrocosmsFic

I had a 100 word limit on this, but ended up with a 240 word story. Microcosms prompts are very fun to work with/against.

The Courtship of Vernon
“I haven’t opened any of them!” Vernon didn’t want to cry in front of his new girlfriend, but he was at the end of his rope. “I just give them to the couriers that show up.”
“If even one is opened I will not be allowed to leave my country and be your princess.” Her connection at the internet café was clearer than some of his friends in a mile away in Brooklyn.
His refrigerator was full of Styrofoam containers she mailed him from overseas. Vernon called her panicked after one tipped over, spilling its contents: three human eyeballs.
Vernon wished he’d have left her email in his spam folder.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#GGR Interview w/ J. David Core - @gamutman @TandMPodcast

Here's an interview with me that's been published on the Lupa Schwartz Mysteries blog. In addition to my writing process, and the creation of Guns, Gods & Robots, you'll get a nice little story of my first fan letter.

Lupa Schwarz Mysteries Blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#Cloverfield Coincidence?

I was a big fan of Cloverfield when it came out. Imagine my excitement to see another Cloverfield movie(possibly) pop up. Imagine my even greater excitement to see that the poster looks just like the cover from my first published novella, Numbers 16:32. You can find that story along with a bunker story (just like the new movie) in my collection Guns, Gods & Robots. Let's see if there's any more parallels in the months ahead leading up to the movie!

Monday, January 18, 2016

#GGR Notes: Fighting Weight

Each week after release I'm sharing notes on each of the stories in my new collection Guns, Gods and Robots along with a song recommendation or two that might share a theme or tone with the story.

Fighting Weight

In addition to the megacolon, one of the most memorable things from my trip to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia was getting to see one of the human bezoars they have in their collection.The vet early on in this short story has a collection of them similar to the one that I saw at in a library book when I was a kid. 

The Cowsills - Hair
A little too on the nose, but it matches the era and one of the characters love for showtunes, so why not?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stranger Observations - @microcosmsfic

Stranger Observations
Rocks and dried manure pelted the Stranger as he swung casually from the noose. He hadn’t intended to crash land on this remote of a planet much less find himself so close to the native population. Their customs were strange. The Stranger had attempted to win them over with some basic teleportation of their flat-brimmed head coverings and they had quickly bound his hands and used the remainder of their rope to hoist him to the lone tree in town. He questioned if the primitives would let him down in time to greet the rescue party responding to his ship’s distress beacon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Guns, Gods & Robots Graphic Text

I had some fun with the Retype app making these graphics to share on Twitter. There's one for each story in my new collection: Guns, Gods & Robots.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Flipnote GIF for #GGR

I'm crummy at art, but love playing around with Flipnote to make little cartoons. Thought it would be fun to make a rough around the edges little GIF as a promo for Guns, Gods & Robots.

Monday, January 11, 2016

#GGR Notes: Popular Mechanics for Young Widows

Each week after release, I'm sharing notes on each of the stories in my new collection Guns, Gods and Robots along with a song recommendation or two that might share a theme or tone with the story.

Popular Mechanics for Young Widows

As many readers may know, I've published this before with a very different story line after chapter one. I liked that earlier version, but was always on the fence about Valerie's decisions internal monologue and my wife, a tough editor, agreed. She challenged me to strip the story down to it's core elements and see if it remained true to my original intent of the story. In doing so I returned the storyline to it's earliest version. Like Tyson, it's lean and and efficient and in my opinion a much stronger beast.If you've read the earlier version of Popular Mechanics for Young Widows I invite you to give this distilled and different version a read and let me know what you think.

All stories in this collection are designed to stand alone, but Popular Mechanics is in a way a thematic bookend to Numbers 16:32. There's also some obvious ancestral connections to a couple of story elements in Timothy that are very intentional.

This was one of the first stories I brought to Writer's Night at the Aurora Public Library. I'd never participated in a writer's group and their note and encourgement kept me going and gave me another audience to be accountable too. I encourage writers of all skill levels to join a local group. Even if you have no writing to share, your feedback is vital and welcome. I would not have been confident enough to release #GGR without their support.

David Bowie - Soul Love
I like to think of all the soft focus of Christmas store catalog covers and 1980's R&B videos when I imagine the goings on in the Valerie's life over the course of this story. This song fits right in.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Attention to Detail - @FlashMobWrites

Another entry for Flash Mob Writes.

Attention to Detail

The tropical vegetation drooped under the constant weight of the steady rainfall.  The ground itself was made for the constant moisture. Absorbing the water into the earth so that nothing accumulated.

“Exquisite,” Dr. Fraunch whispered. The man took his pencil and lifted one of the larger leaves to reveal the small pump affixed to the side of the terrarium. The whole scene in the glass chamber was perfect. Dr. Fraunch would expect no less from last year’s Clark County elementary science fair winner.

The judge returned to his clipboard and then back to the dour girl that made this miniature rainforest. Barbara Grossman looked as disinterested in his evaluation as she’d looked on stage last year accepting her ribbon. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

“Not at all, It’s just. . . ” He pointed to the project display board. Strong black block text labeled the science fair entry as TROPICAL BIODOME. “There’s something inside that doesn’t match the title.”
Barbara shrugged. Dr. Fraunch reached back into the terrarium and lifted a different set of foliage near the ground revealing two miniature head stoned at the head of two tiny, shallow graves. “Are these part of the biosphere?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said confidently.

“Even these graves?”

“I reused the terrarium from last year.”

Fraunch remembered the two gerbils on the wheels connected to the small glowing LED light. It was years more advanced than any other elementary student at the fair.

“I forgot to take them out of the experiment last year.” Barbara scratched under her nose, indifferently. “They were still in the terrarium when I got it up from the basement about a month ago.”

Dr. Fraunch considered what he would find if he probed deeper in the terrarium. He retreated his pencil from the space. The girl was now looking up at him as a baby bird does when mother returns with part of a worm. “Don’t worry I put them to good use. I fed what was left of them to the tarantula that lives in there.”

The judge nodded slowly. “But there’s not a tarantula that lives in there.”

“Yes there is. She’s in there, all covered in babies,” Barbara asserted.

Dr. Fraunch delicately slid the top back onto the container. He was sweating and breathing rapidly at the thought of the incredible spider loose somewhere in the science fair.

“You lost a spider?” he said, controlling the panic in his voice.

“No,” Barbara calmly replied. “I know right where she is. She’s on the bottom of your clipboard.”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Red Letter Home - @microcosmsfic

Week 2 of microcosms Flash Fiction challenges. This week there was an overall blood theme and three story prompts: doctor, battlefield, and romance.

Red Letter Home

I fear this to be a mortal wound. The marauders did not spare one of my fellow doctors or non-armed serviceman. My dearest Molly, you’ll forever be in my heart. 

The Major collapsed on top of the handkerchief he had been writing his letter on. Dead. 

His writing instrument, a thin shaft of wheat from the battlefield, fell back to the earth as his body released. The vial of his precious Molly’s blood that had been around his neck was now nearly empty. The contents of this morbid keepsake had been spent writing one final letter to his betrothed.

Monday, January 4, 2016

#GGR Notes: Timothy

Each week after release, I'm sharing notes on each of the stories in my new collection Guns, Gods and Robots along with a song recommendation or two that might share a theme or tone with the story.


Alternative titles to this story: Celestial Graffiti, The Parable of the Scarab, and Mission Creep. Like everything I learned when writing these seven stories, being direct is best. Hence, landing on Timothy as the title.

Yes, Cid the lead mechanic is named after the same character in Final Fantasy. I loved Final Fantasy IV as a kid and find an excuse to play through it every few years.

I abandoned a concept early on about making this a single choice choose-your-own-adventure style story. The branching path would have followed up on Omar's thinking of what the problem could have been. I much preferred Cid's troubleshooting and what he finds is wrong with Timothy. That's the story I made out to write and I like how this one turned out.

With this being the final entry in this series of notes, I feel compelled to answer a question I've been getting from readers: "Are all of these stories existing in the same world?" While this is not Altman's "Shortcuts," I would say that, yes, this is all one world, but perhaps there are branching timelines. Imagine this is a movie where the same actors are playing a variety of different characters.

Derek Webb - Mockingbird

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Donor Regret - @microcosmsfic

Microcosms is a new weekly Flash challenge that has a 100 word limit. Challenging indeed. Here's my first stab at this week's round:

Donor Regret

Dr. Sharon waited outside of her colleague’s office in the rain. A fat raindrop followed the water-worn path from fingertip to the wrist and the large keloid scar that encircled it. It was astonishing Sharon was even able to feel the touch of the rain. A year ago this hand had been attached to his colleague, Dr. Farouk. After no suitable candidates were found, the two transplant doctors agreed perform to the world’s first hand transplants on each other. Dr. Sharon’s had worked, while Dr. Farouk’s body rejected the new appendage. Farouk and her lawyers wanted her hand back, but the knife in Sharon’s new grip said otherwise.