give the gift of misery!

Even Santa agrees – Miserable Holiday Stories is the perfect holiday gift for that very special someone you’d rather never hear from again!

Featuring the the infamous chapter-book parody “The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again!” and stories from such eclectic journals as The Big Jewel, Litro, Corvus, eFiction, Dysfunctional Family Story, The Legendary, Blue Print Review, and Hobo Pancakes!

This collection of quirky, bittersweet tales is a terrific stocking stuffer and cheaper than coal!

Now available in e-book and cheap paperback to boot!

the raglun oracle

UPDATE – May 1, 2018 – Raglun Oracle just won the story of the month over at Frontier Tales and will be in their eighth anthology!  Thanks to everyone who voted!

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My Twilight Zone meets the Old West piece, The Raglun Oracle is up today at Frontier Tales.  They’ve got a competition running on the site, so please vote for The Oracle!

And of course, you can also find this piece in my new collection Miserable Adventure Stories.

Here’s a snippet:

Christmas last year will not be a day that I—nor anyone in my family— will soon forget, I dare say. I write this comfortably from a bed at my Aunt Sara’s house. As you know, we did not make it to Sara’s last year. And we were anything but comfortable. The storms and snow of last year were greater than any we’d seen in decades. And while that would not usually stop my daddy from makin’ the trip, Ethan, as you know, was quite sick.

Poor Ethan—all of four years—had been a fairly strong boy till that last year—when various sickness overtook him. I had been packing an overnight bag for the trip up north when my Uncle Campbell told me that Ethan was burning up and we’d have to stay put. Daddy had gone for the doctor—a half-day trip, at the least. Ma was in her bedroom laying compresses on Ethan. His fever was high.

Over the past few years, my family had fallen into something of an isolation from the rest of the town, as tends to happen with farming families. Arguments are started and never resolved. Families lose touch and keep to themselves. And so, the begrudging offer to visit from my Aunt was quickly discarded when Ethan fell ill. Soon, a pallor lay over our house as wind crept in through chipped planks causing a low, solemn whistle. The holiday tree I’d cut down myself stood bent over, unseasonable.

Our town, Raglun, is a small one. There aren’t but forty, fifty families—all of whom I can name by sight. There’s little crime, no jail, and half the townsfolk can’t write or read proper. In fact, a great many, in this year of our lord 1873, still believe Lincoln runs the capital, if you can believe that.

Which may be why Ethan’s sickness—and his babbling in particular—came off so unsettling.

I was the one heard it first. I had woken up early that morning to his kicking and writhing. Still asleep, but tossing, turning. And saying words over and over that I couldn’t understand:

Nixon

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the rottweiler

Excited to announce that New Pop Lit is featuring The Rottweiler – the flagship story from my new collection Miserable Adventure Stories – on their site starting today.  NPL is publishing some of the most exciting up-and-coming indie fiction around right now, and I’m thrilled to be among their authors.  Go spend an hour on their site – you won’t regret it.

They also wrote an incredibly lovely introduction to the story that you can find here.  (Super cool illustrations, too.  If you’re into all things Holmes, you should be very cozy here.)

Here’s the opening of the story itself:

It was a cold, brittle day in late December when I came to the apartments of 442D Butcher Street, London, and met my cousin, the illustrious Sir Roderick Rottswilde for the first time. But Sir Roderick was known by another more famous name. He was familiar to all Londoners as not-quite-the-World’s-Greatest-Detective, and second-only-to-that-august-personage-himself-Mr. Sherlock Holmes. My elder cousin was, in fact, The Rottweiler.

And now, Sir Roderick – The Rottweiler – had done the impossible. He’d recovered the Crown Jewels of the Tower of London itself and captured the brigands who’d stolen them. And, today, amid a sea of reporters, he was turning both over to the highest ranking officers of Scotland Yard.

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the sixth sister

My tawdry, hard-boiled crime story “The Sixth Sister” is featured this morning up at the crime fiction site Near to the Knuckle.  Sixth Sister is also one of the featured pieces in my new collection, “Miserable Adventure Stories” (which you can order a copy of by clicking here – or on the big yellow picture over there of the maniacal deep-sea diver being attacked by skunks.)

Oh yeah – and a lot of stuff mentioned here about the Oneida community in upstate NY is true.

Here’s a brief taste of the maliciousness within:

“Conrad was experiencing a perfect moment.

He sat on his hotel room bed staring at the complete – yes, complete – set of Oneida LaVigne Silverplate XI steak knives – known to collectors as The Six Sisters. They were the holy grail of steak knives, and believed responsible for countless historical crimes and acts of mayhem.

By the late 1800s, the small Oneida Community in upstate New York was known for two things: a manufacturing business that crafted the finest cutlery in America; and having been founded as a utopian society that practiced, among other things, “complex marriages” allowing all members of the society to engage in free sexual relations with any other consensual member of the community. Older men and women regularly indoctrinated youngsters into this way of life and dissenting behavior was promptly chastised.”

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Miserable Adventure Stories – Now Available!

I’m pleased as punch to announce the arrival of my second fiction collection, Miserable Adventure Stories – just in time for the holidays!

MAS is a pulpy, genre-bending brew of pieces that have appeared over the past few years at New Pop Lit, The Big Jewel, The Zodiac Review, Defenestrationism, HeadStuff, Blue Skirt Productions, Saturday Night Reader, Near to the Knuckle, and Gi60.  It’s a companion piece to Miserable Holiday Stories (both of which are now available in lovely print editions!), and…it’s, uhm, actually much funnier than that volume, IMO.

MAS features a whopping 15 stories, including the soon-to-be classics “The Rottweiler”, “Across the Tundra”, and the fresh-off-the-presses parody of Lincoln in the Bardo – “Groucho in the Bardo”.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Tentacled monsters! Frozen wastelands! Nixon! Sherlock Holmes! Groucho! In his latest collection, the author of “Miserable Holiday Stories!” takes you to Victorian London, the Old West, alien worlds, Hamlet’s Denmark and other fantastic places that you would absolutely never want to visit. Featuring stories from The Big Jewel, New Pop Lit, The Zodiac Review, and other literary journals with equally fancy names, this head-scratchingly awful collection will make you wonder why you didn’t just stay home and rent a movie.

Miserable Adventure Stories retails for a measly $6.99 in paperback and an even measlier $1.99 for the e-book.

Order both collections and give your loved ones a truly disastrous stocking stuffer!

 

Miserable Holiday Stories – Now in Print!

It’s the perfect stocking stuffer and cheaper than coal!

For the first time ever, Miserable Holiday Stories is now available in a print edition!  And just in time for the holidays!

Yes, now you can actually wrap up a physical copy of Miserable Holiday Stories – with a bow, if you like! – and send sleigh-loads of seasonal misery to family members and other people you don’t really like.  And, unlike the e-version, the print version is flammable and ready to help set your yule log ablaze!

Featuring the infamous chapter-book parody The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again!, the new print version of Miserable Holiday Stories is available from your favorite online retailers as well as discerning bookstores everywhere!

clarity

subway-train1

Excited to announce that my short story “Clarity” is up at the excellent literary site, New Pop Lit.

Here’s the opening:

I’m falling towards train tracks. Subway tracks. The F to be exact. It’s about 9:20 pm. I’m falling towards the tracks because I’ve been massively sideswiped by a homeless man and his Samsonite luggage. Just one piece of luggage, actually. Is luggage singular and plural? You wouldn’t say luggages, right? It’s a nice, sturdy suitcase – at least half the size of the homeless man himself. And sure, it’s dingy, a bit blemished – especially near the bottom. But you really feel it when someone smacks it right into you.

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the bone nest

owl-pellet2

My short story The Bone Nest is up at Defenestrationism.net.  Here’s a brief excerpt.

Farel, the eight-year-old wolfboy, squat upon the banquet table unceremoniously devouring what was left of a large pheasant, much to the Queen’s distress.  The Grand Hall was an utter mess:  chairs and tables were overturned, the buffet had been routed, and all decorations lay mangled.  The Queen’s horrified guests had left hours ago, and now she stood, fists clenched, staring violently at Farel.

“He should be with the dogs!” she snapped.  “I’ve half a mind to put him there myself!”

“Darling,” started the King, trying to keep a calm demeanor.  “We need to be patient.  We must give him time.”

Zanon – the boy’s elderly instructor – hid behind the King, trembling fearfully. 

“We’ve given him time!” she wailed.  “He’s ruined three parties!  I’ve hardlyany friends left!”

“We need to give more,” said the King.

“Why?!”

“You know very well why,” he said.  “Because he is family.”

Your family.  Not mine,” she said.  “He’s barely human!”

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all the comforts

My piece – All the Comforts – about a cranky Earth human taking a tour on an intergalactic space-bus – is up at The Zodiac Review.

Here’s an excerpt.

 

“Oooooh!”  “Ahhh!”  “Glaav!”

Murmurs of awe erupted from 96 passengers, encompassing eight different planetary species, and 18 languages, as yet another “Moment of Wonder” appeared outside the southern window of Gerrison’s Interstellar Adventure Macrobuus.  This time, it was tiny pin-pop flashes of phosphate crackling in the early morning light against the dark red background of Mt. Dosav’a on the lushly popular planet Jove8.

Of the 96 passengers, only three did not Oooooh, Ahhh, or Glaav.  They were: Colcalm, the bus-driver, who’s sacred trust was to simply keep his eyes on the road; Merrieux, the young, golden, half-Jovian/half-French tour guide who, while still taken by the light show, remained a consummate professional; and Dick Magrish, 82-year-old human from Budweiser, Michigan, NAmerica, Sol3 (Earth), who continuously wore a sleep mask and earplugs during every highlight of the tour.

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dick and liza featured in new pop lit

NPL Cover 2 Hi

As mentioned yesterday, my piece “Dick and Liza” – about a secret tryst between Richard Nixon and Liza Minelli circa 1972 – appears in the first print edition of New Pop Lit.  (And editor Karl Wenclas and the good folks at NPL nominated it for a Pushcart Prize!)

Hard copies of New Pop Lit are now officially on sale.  It features other Pushcart nominated writers, and an extremely cool cover by Alyssa Klash.

You can order your copy here.