Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore Haiku

A city burning,
people screaming in the night.
Who hears what they say?

Media spinning.
Everyone claiming the truth,
like a cheap trophy.

No one hears the truth.
All they hear are their voices,
like ravens screaming.

Carrion birds flock,
wheeling above the city,
watching and waiting.

Smoke fills the night air.
Flames lick at the ebon sky.
Death-birds watch and wait.

The birds squawk and scream.
Their voices fill the dark air.
Watching. Uninvolved.

We are the black birds,
watching a city burning.
Forgetting the truth.

This is not a show.
This is not entertainment.
This is the real world.

People are hurting.
Baltimore is still burning.
This is NOT a show.

When will the fires die?
When will the healing begin?
Who takes the first step?

I don't have answers.
I don't know how to end this.
Baltimore still burns.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Your Good Fortune Could Save a Life

Good afternoon, gentle readers!
Forgive my exuberance, but today has been a good day, the sort of day that makes a person reflect on just how lucky they've been.
I sometimes take the quality of my life for granted. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water, a working toilet, electricity, heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer.
That's a lot of positives, if you think about it. 
Now compare that with people in so-called Third World nations.  Hell's bells. Compare it to the living conditions of some people in so-called First World nations.
Hunger is an issue around the world, as is potable water.
Safety is a big concern, as well.
I'm lucky to live in a country that hasn't been racked by war in almost 150 years.  There are people out there right now, RIGHT NOW, who are living in active war zones.  There are people who leave their homes in the morning and never know if they'll make it home alive. Or if their homes will still be there.
I am very, very lucky.
I know that, and I am grateful.
The fortunate status of my life has only been struck home by recent events in Nepal. Thousands of people there have died and thousands more need help.
Bearing that in mind, and considering the fortunate circumstances of your own life, you may want to reach out and help.  To support aid efforts in the region, you may want to donate to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent appeal: .
You don't need to donate a lot, and you certainly don't have to, but if you can, I'm sure your efforts would be appreciated.
You're probably having a good life. 
Now you have an opportunity to share that fortune with someone who really needs it.
Maybe your donation will even save someone's life.
There are worse things you could do.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Fairy Haiku


The boy shed his skin,
revealing luminous wings,
and his true nature.

He took to the skies,
fluttering wings lifting him,
toward the pale moon.

All night long they danced,
the fairy-boy and the moon,
cheered by the stars.

Until the dawn came,
ending the sweet night music,
making the moon flee.

The fairy-boy sighed,
heart-broke, sinking into flesh,
wings bound by man-skin.

In the sun's cruel light,
the night's magic boiled away,
until none was left.

A broken boy wakes,
impossible dreams fading
in the day's harsh light.

Crutches under arms,
he swings out of his sick bed,
his truth forgotten.

He endures the day,
longing for something unnamed,
his forgotten truth.

At last the sun sets.
Harsh day gives way to sweet night.
The bright moon rises.

The broken boy wakes.
He remembers his true self,
and spreads his bright wings.

He dances once more,
with the moon, with the bright stars,
with the soft night wind.

And maybe he prays,
that this night will never end,
that dawn will not come.

But the dawn will come.
He will be broken again,
and he will forget.

Time will not be kind.
The broken boy will become
just another man.

A broken beggar,
he will know want and despair,
cruelty and violence.

One day, he will die,
an old, broken beggar-man.
No one will mourn him.

But the moon will know.
The bright stars will remember.
They will call him home.

He will ride the wind,
on wings of silvery mist,
his mortal term done.

The moon will call him,
and the fairy-boy will come.
This night will not end.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

(Fiction) The Children of the Comet

This was where they kept the children, although children wasn’t really the right word. Monsters would have been more technically accurate, but the parents were sentimental and frowned at such honesty.

The staff was very careful to refer to their charges as ‘children’ whenever the parents were around. The rest of the time, they simply referred to them as ‘the beasts.’

It was not politically correct or kind, but it was honest and, in this troubled world, Doctor MacNamara thought that honesty counted for something.

He seldom interacted with the children/beasts any longer. He didn’t see the point. And, if he was being honest, going among them was emotionally and physically exhausting. Sometimes, he still had nightmares about them getting out of their enclosure, somehow circumventing the heavy gates, shatterproof glass panels and biometric locks. After such dreams, he would go outside and smoke a cigarette, staring at the enclosure and wondering why their parents hadn’t killed the little beasts when they were born.

That’s what most people had done, in that summer after the comet. Privately, MacNamara thought they had done the sensible thing. It wasn’t like most people had the resources or the time to care for such children.

No, the poor had euthanized their terrible progeny and gotten on with their lives.

It was the rich and privileged, the ones with money and power, who didn’t kill their little monsters. Instead, they sent them to places with names like Blue Sky and Greengates. Pretty names and prettier facades to hide the fact that those places were basically prisons.

They referred to MacNamara and his staff as ‘caretakers.’ In reality, they were guards.

Sometimes, the weight of the situation landed on MacNamara’s shoulders like an anvil. Usually after the dream, when he was smoking his cigarette, thinking about his life.

And then he would think how easy it would be to kill the little beasts. He could poison them. Pump gas into their enclosure and claim it was an unfortunate accident. His staff would go along with him and most of the parents would probably sigh in relief.

It was a nice thought.

Monday, April 13, 2015

John Riddle & The Wicked Wizard

Available now from Amazon!

Wizards are the worst.
Everyone knows that.
They're rich, they're arrogant and they can turn you inside out with a snap of their fingers and a few magic words.
Now, John Riddle has to deal with a wizard's ghost.  And if he thought dealing with living wizards was bad, wait until he has to deal with the ghost of a wizard even other wizards don't like!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Naked Men on Shelves

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the blog!
The other day, while perusing Amazon, I couldn't help but notice the preponderance of fantasy/sci-fi book covers featuring naked guys. 
Not full frontal nudity, obviously, but near nudity. Naked torsos with no heads or faces, but lots of bulging pecs and ripped abs.
And I wondered: do any of these cover images have anything to do with the actual story? Are they reflective of a scene?  Or is the author just sticking a hot, naked guy on the cover to get sales?
Sex does sell, ladies and gents.  But should it?
This is the cover to my sci-fi book, Dawnwind: Last Man Standing:

I made it myself, as you can probably tell, using Photoshop.  When I was considering the book cover, I gave it some thought.  I wanted to use primary colors because of their significance in the book's dominant alien culture.  The design was inspired by sci-fi covers from the 1960s.
I didn't just want to stick a generic alien spaceship against a generic celestial background on the cover. Everyone was, and is, doing that.  I wanted something that would stand out from the other books in its simplicity. 
All in all, I'm really rather pleased with the way it came out.
However, I'm also honest enough to realize that this cover, on it's own, probably doesn't invite a lot of curiosity.  Books with images of the protagonist on the cover generally sell better because people linger over them.  If that protagonist happens to be an attractive, nearly naked person then the odds are probably better that more people will look at your book.  How much of a bump it gives sales, I don't know, but I don't think it's a lot.
To put it bluntly, you can look sexy as hell, but still be as dull as dishwater. 
It doesn't help that a lot of indie authors out there get their cover images from the same photo web sites.  I've seen the same guy appearing on multiple covers for very different books. 
I guess, for me, plopping a naked guy on a book cover, when it has nothing to do with the book, is more than just laziness.  It seems dishonest.
All that said, I have to admit to some curiosity. If I had done a cover like the one below for Dawnwind. . . .

Would more of you have bought it?
Just curious.