Monday, May 28, 2012


Good afternoon, gentle readers.
Today's post has been delayed because of technical difficulties. Not on this end, mind you.  There's nothing wrong with my Internet connection and Blogger works as well as ever.
No, gentle readers, the fault lies not in ourselves, but in Smashwords.
This morning I discovered that my collection of superheroic short stories, "Capetales," had been denied entry to Smashwords Premium Catalogue because it lacks an NCX.  An NCX is "Navigation Control for XML."  In short, I have to add a chapter list and then do more coding.
Gentle readers, the life of an indie author is not for the weak or the lazy.  When you're not writing, you're promoting.  When you're not promoting, you're considering new venues.  Should I produce a physical book using Lulu or CreateSpace? Should I invest in targeted ads on Facebook? How do I get an indie e-book reviewed by a reputable source? One that doesn't expect to be paid?
Now, on top of all that, I have to add XML formatting to the mix.
Sometimes, I think I am completely nuts.  There are moments, gentle reader, when I am hunched over my laptop, face bathed in the screen's wan light, that I think I should chuck it all, get a job at Pizza Hut and say to hell with it all.  Just give up and live a life of quiet desperation like so many other people seem to do.
This morning was one of those times.  Discovering you have to do more formatting to your ebook, doesn't exactly encourage one to break out the party hats and champagne.
Still, I'll knuckle down and do it.
Because the alternative, letting the dream die, giving up and getting that job at Pizza Hut or (Heaven help me!) Hot Dog on a Stick would be too much bear.
Also, because all the good jobs at Hot Dog on a Stick have been taken by college graduates.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Picture is worth a thousand words

My thanks to everyone who downloaded a copy of Firekeeper today.  If you haven't yet, the sale lasts until 11:59PM this evening, EST.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Irritation

Gentle readers, I am in a mood.
Recently, when I published my collection of short stories, Surprise Vignettes, through Smashwords I completely forgot to opt out of distribution to Amazon using their Channel Manager.  I went back and opted out of Amazon, then sent off a quick query to Smashwords. 
Below is a copy of my original query sent in on May 21, 2012.

 Dear Smashwords,
I published a recent book and forgot to opt out of on the Channel Manager. I've gone back and since opted out, but I'm wondering how long it will be before the changes go into effect? Thanks in advance! - George R. Shirer

Today, roughly 72 hours later, I got this response from Smashwords.

Hi, George.
Thanks for your email. Actually we don't distribute to Amazon yet, so you don't need to worry about distribution to them.
- Jane Doe
Smashwords Content Team

It has prompted me to go back to Smashwords and send them this complaint.

To whom it may concern,
Earlier this month, I e-mailed a question to Smashwords. When I published my short story, Surprise Vignettes, at Smashwords, I forgot to opt out of Amazon distribution in the Channel Manager. I went back and opted out, but wanted to know, how long it would take Smashwords to update Amazon re this matter.
Today, I received a very polite reply from one of your personnel, informing me that Smashwords does not distribute to Amazon.
If that's the case, why is Amazon listed as an option in the Channel Manager? How did my ebook appear on Amazon? None of the metadata has been changed, so I don't believe it's been pirated.
I know that you're backlogged, but I really don't appreciate the blythe, obviously wrong, answer I got from your staff.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fiction: Harvard's Tale


Harvard lived in a village, woven out of cobwebs by specially trained, giant spiders.  It was lovely for everyone, but the people who were afraid of spiders.
A writer, Harvard wrote by moonlight.  Candlelight was too dangerous.  It would attract the dream-moths and Harvard needed his dreams.
On market days, Harvard sold his stories.  He wrote about the legendary heroes: Jenny Kick, Neil-in-the-Graves, the Farstepper Twins.  They were very popular.  His customers came from as far away as Widow's Ledge and Brokedown Palace.
Most of Harvard’s stories were sentimental rubbish, but writing them paid well.  And, in his heart of hearts, Harvard loved telling heroic tales.  He would have admitted it, if such sentiment wasn't unfashionable.  If he did admit it, he would be the laughingstock of the salons.  And if he was laughed out of the salons, Harvard would never have a chance with the lady he loved.
Parisa was the prettiest girl in town.  She had hair as golden white as fairy-silk, midnight blue eyes, a button nose, rose-red lips. It was a pity that so pretty a girl had a heart as cold and hard as a gravestone.  Despite this, she had many suitors.
If her flinty heart repelled them, her beauty compensated for it.  And her wealth more than compensated for any character defect.  At least, that's what some of her suitors whispered to each other, over glasses of wine in the Harlot's Rest.
Harvard, alas, was genuinely smitten by Parisa.  She, of course, wouldn't look twice at him, in his dusty black clothes.  So, Harvard's love went unrequited, which, for a writer, can be the best kind of love to suffer. Suffering, after all, inspires.
And, oh! How Harvard suffered!  How that suffering inspired him!
He poured his heart into his stories, which became more delectable each day.  Like lovely cakes, his tales stuck to people.  They grew fat and happy off them.
One market day, a man came to see Harvard.  A tall, thin fellow, sinister in a fashionable way.  His eyes were tawny, his ebon beard was oiled and scented.  He wore a suit of fine, scarlet silk. Around his neck, the stranger wore an enormous, white ruff.
The stranger introduced himself as Sir Las.  He wished to hire Harvard, to commission a series of stories for the Flying Court.  Harvard was thrilled and said yes without learning the details of the commission.  Too quickly, he committed himself.
The poor fool.
Heroes were out of fashion. In fact, the Flying Circus thought the old stories were dangerous. Harvard was hired to rewrite them, to turn them into comedies. 
He balked, tried to get out of the commission, but it was impossible. No one with any sense refused the Flying Court.
So, he sat and rewrote the old tales.  And with every letter he put on paper, Harvard's soul withered just a little bit more.  And for every story he finished, the Flying Circus paid Harvard a purse of gold.
He grew quite wealthy off his work. By the time he was done, Harvard was rich. Rich enough to catch the notice of his infatuation, the hardhearted Parisa. Rich enough to buy a fine web-house in the nice part of time, rich enough to stop writing. 
After what he had done, turning his heroes into laughingstocks, Harvard thought that might be best.He put down his pen and became a recluse. 
Every night, he sat in his back yard, with a lit candle to lure the dream-moths to him.  Harvard did not want his dreams anymore. He let the moths feast on them. 
Over time, Harvard became as dull and drab as a funeral shroud.  He did not care for anything, so did not notice the stirrings around him.  The brimstone stench of Revolution drifting on the air.
The Flying Court's sabotage of the heroic tales had backfired.  They had gone too far, incensing the common man. 
War erupted.
It did not last long. The Flying Court fell, the courtiers' heads separated from their necks by the executioner's axe.
Sir Las was offered a deal.  He would be spared the axe in exchange for the name of the man who had mutilated the old stories.
He gave them Harvard. 
Pleased, the Revolutionaries kept their word.  Sir Las was spared the axe.  Instead, they hung him with a fine hemp rope.
Parisa had fallen in with the Revolutionary crowd, more out of self-preservation than honest outrage.  She led the mob that stormed Harvard's house, that carried him off to a makeshift gallows in the town's square.  They meant to hang him, then and there.  As he was led to the noose, Parisa asked, "Do you have anything to say?"
Harvard looked at the woman he had once loved.  "Yes," he said, very softly.  "I do have a story I'd like to tell."
Standing on the gallows, the noose around his neck, Harvard spoke softly and plainly.  He told about his life, writing stories about the heroes, the salons and his hypocrisy.  After confessing his love for Parisa, to defaming the heroes for the Flying Court,  Harvard expressed his regrets.  And even though he spoke softly, Harvard's words were heard by everyone in the square.  Eyes glittered with unshed tears.  Only Parisa remained unaffected.
"Hang him," she ordered, when Harvard had finished his tale.
And they did.
After a time, the Revolution burned itself out.  Things went back to normal. Or as normal as they could after so much spilt blood and shed tears.
Only, in the village of Web, on market days, there was something different.  One stall was kept empty.  A reminder of a good man who made a rash agreement and foolishly kept his word.


Hello, gentle readers.  You might want to send the kiddies out of the room, because today, we're going to talk about sex. 
A lot of people have hangups about sex.  Not just writing it, but reading about it and discussing it.  Some people think the subject is inappropriate for a general audience.  Others find that writing about it makes them uncomfortable.  Some wonder about the necessity of including it in a story.  Too few, in my humble opinion, don't worry about writing a good scene.
The appropriateness of sex in your writing, depends largely on who you're writing for.  Obviously, sex is inappropriate for a juvenile audience.  If you're writing something aimed at teens, sex should exist, but it shouldn't be presented on the page.  The act, if a part of the story, should happen off-stage.
The appropriateness of sex in works aimed at an adult audience depends entirely on the story and, to a lesser degree, the genre.  Generally speaking, I believe a less is more approach works best for most stories.
But what if you've reached a point in your writing, where a sex scene seems appropriate, but you're not comfortable writing it?  What do you do?
In an earlier post, I encouraged writers to write what they like.  Here, I'm going to encourage writers to write what they feel comfortable with.  If you're not comfortable writing about sex, then don't write about it.  It's as simple as that.
But let's say that you're comfortable writing about sex.  It doesn't make you blush or squirm (except in a good way) to set fingers to keyboard and write a scene set between the sheets. Or against a wall, as the case may be. 
Please, write something worth reading. 
If your scene is boring, if it doesn't take the reader into your characters' minds, why bother writing it at all?  Just skip to the aftermath and the pillow talk. 
Also, if you're writing about sex, know what you're writing about.  If your character is an S&M submissive, and you don't have experience with the lifestyle, do your research! 
Finally, let's talk about writing porn.  A lot of publishers and authors try to avoid this niche by saying that they produce 'erotica.'  They're fooling themselves.  If the majority of your story contains sex, you're writing porn.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing porn.  In the past, writing porn has been profitable. It can be a great way to learn the business of writing, of satisfying the wants and needs of an editor/publisher. On a personal level,it can be a lot of fun, sharing your fantasies with the world.
However, because every Tom, Dick and Harriet these days seems to be writing porn, it's not as lucrative as it once was.  The Internet has leveled the playing field.  Most of the written porn available on the Internet is, to be blunt, awful.  A lot of it reads like it was written by illiterate, teenage virgins who've never gotten past first base.
If you're going to write porn then do everyone a favor and write good porn.  Edit your stuff like you would anything else you write.  Check your spelling and grammar.  And, if you're writing gay or lesbian porn, give your characters different appearances and very different names.  Nothing is more irritating than reading porn and trying to figure out which of the two hot blondes is licking the other.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Flashfic: S-82897


The government press-ganged Stevie 82897 when he was nine years old.  They picked him up from school one morning and by the time his parents were informed that afternoon, Stevie was three thousand miles away undergoing the first part of his indoctrination.

Indoctrination was an ugly process involving manipulation of the recruit’s brain and psyche by a team of neuro-psych specialists.  There were other surgeries involved and then a long period of chemical and psychological conditioning.  The entire process took six years.  At the end, the survivors were shipped off to basic training.

One year later, the recruits graduated and were immediately shipped off to hot spots around the globe.  By this time they were engineered sociopaths, flesh-and-blood murder-machines. There was no going back for any of them.

This was something the bleeding hearts who came to power didn’t realize, thought Doctor Trent.  The only way to make these things (Trent couldn’t think of them as people) safe, was to lobotomize them.  A safer option, in the neuro-psych’s opinion, would have been to put a bullet in their heads.  But orders were orders.

Soldier S-82897 lay in the surgical chair, eyes shut, listening to music.  Music seemed to work best for this particular soldier.  Others responded to scents or visual stimuli. 

Doctor Trent glanced at the brainscan and made a final adjustment of the surgical laser.  He glanced at the observation window, where delegates from the new government watched.  Some looked interested.  Most seemed bored. 

The doctor was just preparing to make the first incision when the lights in the surgical suite flickered.  He hesitated, frowning.  The intercom crackled.

“Attention all personnel.” The voice from the intercom was synthesized. Feminine.  “This is Mother. Operation Indigo is go.”

As Soldier S-82897 surged out of the chair, the surgical tray clattered to the floor.  His face was expressionless, as blank as a mask.  Even when he smashed through the glass window of the observation room, and started killing the government delegates.

When he was done, Soldier S-82897 returned to the surgical chair. The scars on his arms and face were already healing over.  Blood and gore dripped from his hands.  He stared ahead, into space, eyes as blank as a doll’s.

Well, thought Doctor Trent, powering down the surgical laser, so much for the new leadership.  He sat on a stool behind Soldier S-82897, the two of them listening to Smokey Robinson’s ‘Hurt’s On You.’

Doctor Trent thought the song was strangely appropriate for the situation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Surprise Vignettes

Good evening, gentle readers.  Are you ready for a Surprise?  I certainly hope so.

My newest collection of short stories, Surprise Vignettes, is available at and will be free for a limited time.
Come and meet Professor Surprise, a woman with a zest for life, a talent for violence and an interesting wardrobe.  Peek into her world, meet her 'lovely assistants,' and don't forget her words of wisdom: "Nothing good ever comes from space."
Except Tang.
Just follow the link at the top of the page to my Smashwords Author Page to download Surprise Vignettes for free.  And if you read it and feel inclined to leave a review or a comment, please do so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Happy Announcement

Good morning, gentle readers!
This morning I received wonderful news.  Three of my e-shorts (The Death of Faith, The Finishers and Hellbound on the Sugar Train) were approved for Smashwords' Premium Catalogue.  Now, those three shorts are available on multiple platforms!
Also, downloads of my collection of short superhero fiction, Capetales, has passed the hundred mark!
And sometime this weekend, expect a Surprise!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monsters: A Capetales Preview

Good morning, gentle readers.
Today, instead of rambling on about writing, I'm going to share one of the stories from my collection of super-heroic fiction, Capetales
Capetales is available for FREE at .  Simply follow the link at the top of the page to my Smashwords Author Page if you'd like to download the entire collection.
* * * * *
            The body on the slab was headless, the flesh gray beneath the harsh lights of the examination room.  Jack Lotus stood with his back against the wall, watching the specialist from the Lodge bend over the body.  Germain St. Greer was drop-dead gorgeous, with an amazing ass.  Lotus was pretty sure he could stand there and watch it all day.  Sadly, that wasn’t going to happen.
St. Greer straightened and turned.  She had the most devastating green eyes that Jack had ever seen.  “How many others have there been?”
She wasn’t talking to him, but to the other man in the room.  The guy’s face looked like someone had used a cheese grater on it.  The left side was a mess of puckered, white scar tissue.  The right side of his mouth twitched.
“Three,” said Sheriff Kevorkian.
The Lodge woman turned her attention to Lotus and there was nothing warm in her gaze. “And you jerkoffs are just calling us in now?”
Despite himself, Lotus flinched.  “We thought they were just regular murders.”
“They’re not,” snapped St. Greer.  She glanced at the corpse.  “Congratulations, gentlemen. You’ve got a vampire problem.”
* * * * *
Terrorville wasn’t an easy town to find, tucked away in the back of beyond, and the residents preferred it that way.  Jack Lotus couldn’t blame them.
Driving down Main Street, the town looked like a slice of early 20th Century Americana. The kind of place that Norman Rockwell might have immortalized.  The town park had a bandstand that was still used.
Yeah, thought Jack.  Rockwell would have loved this place, as long as he never met the locals.  Jack, himself, was grateful for his car’s tinted windows. He’d seen a lot of weird shit in his life, but nothing could really prepare you for Terrorville.
It was midday now, and the town was quiet.  A lot of the stores along Main Street were closed.  They wouldn’t open until after sundown.  Terrorville and its residents were largely nocturnal.
Still, as Jack cruised past, the door to a bank opened and one of the townsfolk stepped into the sunlight.  The woman was fat and pale, with skin like white cheese.  Wisps of gray hair clung to her skull.  She turned, to glance at the car, and Jack saw the gray tumors, erupting from the flesh of her face and neck.  Her eyes were white as chalk.
“Fuck,” murmured Jack.
The Lodge woman glanced at him.  “You okay?”
“Doesn’t this place get to you?”
She looked at him, and said, flatly, “I’ve been to worse.”
“I don’t think I want to know,” said Jack.
“Then you’re smarter than you look,” said St. Greer.  “You can drop me off at the hotel, then get out of town.”
Jack frowned.  “I was told . . . ”
“I don’t care what you were told,” said St. Greer.  “This is a Lodge operation now, Agent Lotus.”  Her voice was cold, crisp.  “Go back to Virginia and tell your director to get ready for a ream job, because you people really dropped the ball on this one.”
“Christ, lady!” snapped Jack.  “You want to ease off on the attitude?”
“No,” said St. Greer.  “Have you ever faced a vampire, Agent Lotus?”
“No, but. . . .”
“They’re evil in a way you can’t possibly conceive,” said the Lodge woman.  “Forget everything you think you know about them.  They aren’t effete, they aren’t romantic, and they don’t sparkle.  They’re the most dangerous things in the world.  Omega-level predators.  Can you understand that?”
Jack snorted.  “They don’t sound any different from some of the supervillains I’ve met.”
“They are.  Killjoy may be a psychopathic murderer, but he’s still human.  Adrian Lute may want to take over the world, but he doesn’t plan on killing everyone.”
“And vampires do?”
“Every vampire in the world, Agent Lotus, is an extinction-level event just waiting to happen.”
“If that was the case, lady, wouldn’t we all be dead by now?” asked Jack.
“We’ve been lucky,” said St. Greer. 
They had reached the hotel, a Gothic bed & breakfast a few blocks over from Main Street.  Jack parked the car and turned to St. Greer. 
“So, if these things are as bad as you say, what’s the worst case scenario for this mission?”
“I fail and Terrorville gets cauterized.”
She looked into his eyes and said, “The Lodge comes in and burns the place and everyone in it down to ashes.”
Jack blinked.  St. Greer opened her door and slid out of the car. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
She looked at him with something like pity.  “No.  Get out of town, Agent Lotus.”
With that, she shut the door, turned and vanished inside the hostel.
* * * * *
Sunset arrived and Terrorville came to life.  Germain St. Greer stood at her window and watched childlike things burst out of the house across the street.  They were pale and twisted, with bristly orange hair and hooting voices.  The children rampaged joyously across the front lawn, joined by others from the surrounding houses.  Germain turned away from the window, to her case. 
It was time to get to work.
* * * * *
Sheriff Kevorkian was waiting for her in the foyer.  He had spent the time, chatting amiably with the bed and breakfast’s owner, a woman who would have been pretty if not for the second mouth, fanged and gaping, in her throat. 
Germain had decided not to take the subtle approach with this mission.  When she walked into the foyer, she was wearing a matt black skinsuit that was almost indecently tight. Over this, she wore a black jacket with several pockets.  A gunbelt hung on her narrow waist.
Kevorkian took a breath and noted a curious scent coming from the government woman.  A sort of musky odor that made all the fine hairs on his neck stand on end.
“Miss St. Greer?”
“We should go,” she said.  “Moonlight’s burning.”
Kevorkian said his goodbyes to Miss Calhoun, and hurried after her.  The mouth in Miss Calhoun’s throat growled its disapproval.
* * * * *
St. Greer was seated in his squad car when Kevorkian got there.  The government woman had a PVA in one gloved hand.  Kevorkian slid behind the wheel.
“Where to?”
He tried to ignore the perfume she was wearing, but in the confines of the car it was difficult.
“Before we go anywhere, sheriff, I should tell you something.”
“Terrorville has been sealed,” said St. Greer.
Kevorkian frowned.  “What do you mean, sealed?”
“I mean that nothing is getting in or out of this town until my investigation is complete.”
“How are you . . .  ?”
“That doesn’t matter,” said St. Greer.  “All that matters is finding the vampire and destroying it. Do you understand?”
“I guess, but. . . .”
“No,” she interrupted him.  “This is a yes or no proposition, sheriff.  When we find this thing, we aren’t going to arrest it or reason with it.  I’m going to kill it.  Do you understand?”
“Yes, but. . . .”
“And,” continued St. Greer, “I will kill anyone who gets in the way.”
Kevorkian swallowed.  “I understand.”
“Good,” said St. Greer.  “Let’s go.”
* * * * *
Even a place like Terrorville had its bad parts, areas where respectable residents wouldn’t go willingly.  The Hester Sumner Community Housing Projects was the bad part of Terrorville.  It was government subsidized housing, a series of low-cost apartments built near the fetid waters of Lake Dante.  The Projects were home to the lowest of the low, junkies and criminals, chronic alcoholics and the unemployable. 
“Parasites,” growled Sheriff Kevorkian, as he guided his cruiser down Laurel Avenue.  There were no street lights here, the only illumination provided by moonlight and what light escaped from the dark confines of the Projects.  Most of that was the flickering light of television screens.
At the corner, stood a trio of youths wearing identical red hoodies.  They gave the police car baleful stares as it slid past.  One of the teenagers pulled out a cell phone and started dialing.
“Stop the car,” said St. Greer.
No sooner had Kevorkian touched the brakes, than St. Greer had her door open and was out of the vehicle.  She crossed the distance between the car and the three teenagers at a flat run.  Her appearance seemed to render the teenager speechless with shock.  She slapped the cell phone out of the one kid’s hand and wrapped her hand around his throat.
Up close, the kid had a face like a  Dali painting.  The features weren’t in their normal places and the bones under the parchment-like skin seemed half melted. 
One of the other kids, tall and gangly, too sharp bones breaking through his skin here and there, threw himself at St. Greer.  She kicked him in the balls. Hard.  The kid folded up, clutching his privates.
The third kid turned and ran.
“Shoot him,” St. Greer told Kevorkian.
“Are you nuts?” said the sheriff.
Scowling, St. Greer pulled her gun free of its holster.  Still gripping the one kid by the throat, she turned, aimed, fired at the one fleeing.  The gun made no noise, but the runner squealed like a stuck pig and hit the ground, twitching.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Kevorkian had his gun out now, staring at St. Greer.  “Are you crazy, lady? You can’t go around shooting people!”
“I can and I will,” said St. Greer.  She glanced at Kevorkian and sighed, hefted her gun.  “Stun rounds.”
The sheriff swore and hurried over to the gunshot kid.  St. Greer turned back to the one she was holding.  Lifting her gun, she pressed it against his temple.
“Who were you warning?”
The Dali-faced kid went pale.  The air suddenly smelt strongly of urine.
“I won’t ask again,” said St. Greer.
“If I tell you, he’ll kill me,” said the kid.
“If you don’t, I’ll kill you,” said St. Greer.
The kid’s eyes widened and slid from side to side, desperately looking for a way out.  His gaze fell on the sheriff who had returned.
“Sheriff! You gotta do something! This lady’s crazy!”
“Tell her what she wants to know, Adrian,” said Kevorkian. 
“But . . . ”
St. Greer lifted him off the ground, one-handed.  The kid flailed his arms and legs.  He gasped for air around the woman’s fingers.
“Talk,” said St. Greer, dumping the kid back on the ground.
He looked up, tears and snot running down his face.  He was flushed, his throat bruised. Frightened eyes appealed to Kevorkian, but the sheriff just shook his head.   Adrian hung his head.
“Satchmo?” said St. Greer.
The kid nodded.
“Where can I find him?”
“The big house on Harbert,” said the kid.
“Thank you,” said St. Greer, then lifted her gun and shot the kid in the chest.
Kevorkian stared.
“It’s for his own good,” said St. Greer.  “And ours.  This way, he won’t be able to warn Satchmo that we’re coming.”
“Did it occur to you that Satchmo could just be a dealer?”
“No,” said St. Greer.  She fired a round into the third kid, the who was still clutching his nuts.  “Let’s go.”
* * * * *
Kevorkian parked the squad car a block from their destination.  He scratched the scarred half of his face.  In the passenger seat, St. Greer had her PVA open. Her face was green in the glow from the handheld’s screen.
“What?” asked Kevorkian.
“The property is owned by a man named Abraham Milan.”
“Milan’s records stop five years ago.”
“He’s a fake?” asked the sheriff.
“It looks that way,” said St. Greer.  “You should stay here.”
“If Satchmo or Milan or whoever is the vampire, I won’t need the distraction.”
She climbed out of the car.  Kevorkian followed her.
“I could help,” he said.
St. Greer had pulled out a small, black aerosol can from her jacket.  She popped the top and began to spray her body.  Kevorkian inhaled a scent like musk and rotten flowers.  He reared back, gagging.
“What the hell is that?”
“Concentrated sex pheremones,” said St. Greer.  “Extracted from a female vampire.”
“And you’re covering yourself with it because?”
“I’m making myself irresistible,” said St. Greer.  She tossed the empty can aside.  “Wait for me here.  Hopefully this won’t take long.”
* * * * *
Harber Avenue was dark and quiet.  St. Greer noted the lack of street lights.  She turned and saw the center of Terrorville, glowing by gaslight.  The streets immediately around the downtown area were also illuminated, but the farther one got from the center of Terrorville, the darker the streets became.
The house she was approaching was the largest on the street.  It was a monstrous Queen Ann with a wraparound porch.  The front lawn was immaculate and populated with statues of merry lawn gnomes.  St. Greer walked up the steps to the front door and knocked.  No one answered.  After a few moments, she tried the knob.  The door swung open on noiseless hinges.  Inside, the house seemed darker than the street.
Curtains over the windows, assumed St. Greer. 
She drew her gun and stepped inside. 
There was no furniture in the living room.  The space was open, unadorned, cavernous.  Heavy drapes covered the windows.  St. Greer tore them down.  Moonlight washed across faux wood paneling.
“Well, who might you be?”
St. Greer turned, leveled her gun and fired.  She had a vague impression of movement, then laughter.
“Hmm.  Shoot first and ask questions later.  You’re Lodge, aren’t you?”
Turning, St. Greer saw the speaker, standing against the far wall.  The man was smallish, dark complected, with neat black hair.  He wore a black track suit with red piping.  His sneakers were old and worn.
“Satchmo, I presume,” said St. Greer.
“And you must be the infamous Germain St. Greer.  I was wondering if we would ever meet.”
She aimed and fired, but Satchmo vanished in a blur.  Powerful hands gripped her upper arms and heaved her across the room.  St. Greer slammed, face first, into the faux wood paneling.
“I thought you’d be taller,” said Satchmo.
St. Greer climbed to her feet and turned to face the vampire. “Sorry to disappoint.  Why Satchmo?”
“I used to be a jazz musician.”
Amateur, thought St. Greer.  She slapped a concealed patch on the wrist of her skinsuit.  The fabric flared, star bright, temporarily turning the interior of the Queen Ann as bright as noon.  Satchmo howled and covered his eyes.  St. Greer tackled him.
Vampire and vampire hunter went down in a tangle of limbs.  Satchmo quickly climbed on top and slammed St. Greer’s head against the faux wood flooring.  His eyes were red and bleeding.
“Tricky bitch!”  He opened his mouth, extending the fangs concealed behind his primary teeth. “I’m going to rip you open and fuck your heart!”
I guess the sex pheremones are working, thought St. Greer.  She reached up, grabbed the vampire’s head with both hands, and twisted.  Satchmo jerked as she broke his neck, flecks of caustic saliva hitting her face.  She ignored the sizzle of her flesh, and rolled, pinning the vampire to the floor.
His eyes were rolling, his jaw clicking as he tried, vainly, to bite her.  She drew back her arm and punched her fist through his skull.  Instantly, the vampire grew still.  St. Greer removed her fist from his brain and wiped her hand on the vampire’s track suit.
Turning, St. Greer saw Sheriff Kevorkian standing in the doorway.  He had his weapon drawn and looked as if he were going to be sick.
“I told you to wait outside, sheriff.”
“I didn’t hear anything for a while, so thought. . . .”
St. Greer nodded and stood.  “It’s all right.  It’s done.”
He hesitated.  “Are you sure?”
* * * * *
“How can you be sure?” asked Jack Lotus.
He’d picked St. Greer up at the bed and breakfast that morning and was driving her back to Virginia.
“Vampires work alone,” said St. Greer.  “That’s one of the few advantages we have over them. They’re extremely territorial and extremely competitive.  The only time you’ll get two vampires in the same room is if they’re mating.”
“Mating? I thought they were undead.”
“Remember what I said?  Forget everything you think you know about them. Most of it is myth or misinformation deliberately spread by the vampires themselves.  Besides, where do you think child vampires come from?”
Lotus let that one slide.  He glanced in the rearview mirror.  “Well, at least Terrorville is behind us.”  He shook his head.  “That place is just . . . wrong.”
“Why? Don’t you have eyes?  All those freaks.  They just give me the willies.”
“I think I understand, now, why Satchmo chose to set up his nest there.”
“Most people wouldn’t care what happened to the residents of Terrorville.  After all, they’re all viewed as monsters and freaks anyway.  Correct?  They were the perfect victims.  No wonder your colleagues hesitated to pass on Sheriff Kevorkian’s reports on the deaths.  They just didn’t care what happened to the people there.”
Jack frowned.  “It was a simple administrative error.”
“I find that hard to believe,” said St. Greer.  “Sanction has a 94 percent success rate, identifying and taking steps to neutralize supercriminal activity, and they have almost exclusive federal jurisdiction in Terrorville.  Your agency should have been all over this from the very first murder, Agent Lotus.”
“That’s. . . .”
“Did you know that before the recent deaths there hadn’t been a homicide in Terrorville in almost ten years?”
He frowned and gripped the steering wheel. “No, I didn’t.”
“Something to think about.”
“Can we change the subject? Please?”
“Of course,” said St. Greer.  “What would you like to talk about?”
Jack glanced at her, out of the corner of his eye.  “Tell me about you, Agent St. Greer.  What’s your story?”
She glanced at him.  “I could tell you, Agent Lotus, but then I’d have to kill you.”
He chuckled until he saw her expression.
They drove the rest of the way in silence.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Bit of Doggerel


Shall I kiss you?
Shall I court you?
Shall we dance the night away?
Shall we marry now?
Or tarry?
Until the month of May?
Shall we have a grand adventure?
An elopement in the dark!
Shall we run away by moonlight?
Riding horses through the park?
Another glass of wine, my dear?
Another sip? Or two?
Perhaps you’d care for kisses now,
until the morning dew.
I’ll satisfy your wants, my dear,
your desires are my own.
But I cannot bear your harsh looks, love,
they cut me to the bone.
And when you deign to leave me,
as so many ladies do,
shrinking back from my regard
I won’t wish ill of you.
I’ll be fine,
I’ll move along,
I’ll find a brand-new love.
But in my heart
you’ll have a space,
my little turtle dove.
And if we meet,
upon the street,
as so many lovers do.
I hope and pray,
that on that day,
you won’t begrudge
the cash I took,
to remind myself
of you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Hello, gentle readers!
Tonight, I'm pleased to announce that I've just published a collection of super-hero themed short stories at Smashwords!
Capetales will be FREE at Smashwords for the next week.  So, please, pop on over and check it out.
And thanks, in advance, for your support!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Banner of Books!

Hello again, gentle readers.
Above, you see a banner I created this morning, intending to use as a cover for a public Facebook Page. That, alas, did not come about, but I was so pleased with this banner that I decided to share it with all of you.

The Death of Faith, The Finishers and Hellbound on the Sugar Train are available for purchase and download at and

The Finishers is the obligatory zombie story that every genre writer has to produce.  I believe it's one of the awful Unwritten Rules, that keep changing on us.

Hellbound on the Sugar Train is set in an alternate reality where Richard Nixon was a rock star and Marshall Mathers III is President of the United States which has a huge trade deficit with the Magical Land of Oz.  It also contains smugglers, drug dealers, revolutionaries, crackheads and an assassin.

The Death of Faith stands out a bit in what I'm offering, as it isn't a 'genre' book, but straight up literature.  It concerns the aftermath of a young woman's suicide, how her family copes.  It's the book I recommend to "ordinary people."

Surprise Vignettes is my current project. In it, I introduce a character who's been rattling around my head for a while, the lovely and talented Professor Surprise.  In the collection, you'll get a glimpse of her world, and the threats she faces with zest, violence and a unique dress sense.

Dawnwind: Last Man Standing is an 80,000+ word sci-fi novel soon to be released.  John Epcott is the Last Human. Rescued from a disease-ravaged Earth by friendly aliens, the novel tells the tale of his life among the friendly Junians and his unorthodox rise through the ranks of their military, until he is given command of the starship, Dawnwind.

And there you have it, gentle readers. Spread the word!

Stop to Smell the Flowers

Good morning, gentle readers!
The picture above is from my back yard.  The flowers, however, are not the result of my handiwork. Alas, I have a black thumb.  Plants everywhere fear me, even some of the plastic ones. 
Still, even though I've no talent for gardening, I do enjoy the flowers. And, as you can guess from the title of this blog entry, I think it's important that we all stop to smell them.
Being an indie author means that you spend a huge amount of time working on your books.  Not just through the act of creation, but through promotion.  You can write the finest e-book in the world, one that explains the Theory of Everything in perfectly understandable language, but no one is going to read it if you don't promote, promote, promote!
Sometimes, gentle readers, I feel less like a writer and more like a carnival barker.  Picture a stout fellow in a red and white striped jacket, a straw boater perched on his head, an optional handlebar mustache for flavor, standing outside a small tent on a crowded midway.
"Come one! Come all!" shouts the barker, gesticulating wildly at the crowd.  "Wonders to behold! Sights to see! An experience you'll never forget lies within!"
Now, imagine that this barker's tent is only one of thousands on a carnival midway that extends for miles.  In front of each of the other tents is another barker, doing their damnedest to woo the crowd. Some have brighter outfits, bigger mustachios, louder voices. 
Congratulations, gentle reader.  You've just got an ideal picture of what it's like to promote an e-book.
It can be, to put it mildly, exhausting. I'm not even going to mention how much time it takes. Time that could be better spent elsewhere, writing that Great Novel, Epic Poem or Astounding Screenplay.
Which is why, gentle readers, it's important to stop and smell the flowers.  In my recent interview with fellow author, Kevin Rau (, I revealed that I'm a schedule writer.  From ten in the morning to five in the afternoon, I'm bent over the laptop, trying to write.  However, I do take breaks for snacks, lunches and rambles around the back yard.
Kevin jokingly responded, "They let you out?"
If they didn't, I think I'd go mad.  Or madder, depending on your perspective.
We need breaks, gentle reader.  I do and you do.  No one can work eight hours straight.  We're not machines.  During the work day, we need to disengage from our tasks, whether its analyzing spreadsheets or mopping floors.  People need to step back, to pause, to switch gears for a little while.  It gives the mind a chance to rest and, when we return to the task at hand, we're usually refreshed.
So, today, gentle reader, I want you to stop and take some time to smell the roses.  Get up and walk away from your desk for ten minutes. Go visit a friend on the other side of the building.  Step outside and breathe the fresh air. Play a game of Angry Birds or peruse a book.
Stop. Put work out of your mind for a little while.  Luxuriate in this you-time.  Then, when you feel relaxed, get back to work.
Don't worry.  The flowers will still be there when you need them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekend Sale

Hello, gentle readers!
For the rest of this weekend, my short story, The Finishers, will be available for free at Smashwords. Please, avail yourself of this opportunity.  And if you like it or hate it, please leave a review either here or on the site.
Have a good weekend!

An Interview with Kevin Rau

Good morning, gentle readers!  Today I'm sharing a link with you, to an interview I did with Kevin Rau.

Kevin is the author of 6 novels, an Illustrated Guide, and short stories in the SciFi/Superhero genre. He also does character art, as can be seen on his site.  Go visit!