My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My damn neighborhood was a nice little cluster of lines on Google Maps when my wife bought the house three years before she met me. There is a bit of the rough and tumble redneck element, but that is to be expected on this side of Puget Sound, where the shipyard serves as the blue collar Mecca for those who hope to chisel off a small portion of the nearly defunct American Dream. We live in easy walking distance of the elementary school, Starbucks, a grocery store, and the largest business in town--Wal-Mart. A short bike ride (2.5 miles), and we are at the waterfront public library. Between our house and the library is a wonderful used bookstore so wonderful my wife has a hard time convincing me not to spend her paycheck on used books.

All this suburban niceness is offset by the interesting personality of the community.

On any given residential street in our tiny cluster of America, you will see no more than a third of the houses with manicured lawns. Of the houses not in need of painting, only a quarter of those avoid the . . . interesting colors. We are a neighborhood of mint green, vibrant blue, and pink. Think I even spotted an orange house at one time. Most of these home owners have little concern for the moss blanketing their roofs. Many of these homes also resemble refugee camps. Plastic tarps over front porches, furniture and rubbish piled up in the yard. Broken down cars clogging the driveways, and dead household appliances fighting for room on the front lawn among the pestilent population of garden gnomes. At first, I thought these guerrilla landscapers were a result of the community lying in an unincorporated section of the town. That attitude has since changed after becoming more familiar with the mighty P. O..
We are an exciting community!

Since November of 2010, our neighborhood has become well known by the fire and sheriff’s departments.

On November 24th, 2010, we woke up to find a house missing, and in its place a pile of charred timber. The 23rd was a nasty night. A blizzard in actuality. The weather was so bad that the fire department was unable to navigate their big, red engines down the driveway at ten o’clock at night. How do I know this? Our backyard neighbors were engaged in bonfire fun, the wind whipping embers high into the sky, into the branches of surrounding pines trees. Black ash dotted the snow in our yard, and I assume the same can be said of the other home owners sharing a timber dry fence line with the backyard neighbors. The city had lost power around six, when most folks are making dinner. The next block over, a family decided to abandon the mighty P. O. for a cozier location with heat and electricity. Rumor blames the fire on a stove burner that was not turned off when the power was lost. This information is third hand, so my faith in its accuracy is expressed with a shrug. Fortunately, the home owners have a good insurance company, and nearly a year later, they are moving into a freshly built house identical to the previous, and on the original location.

Life in the mighty P. O. was calm for two months. On the morning of January 23rd, 2011, my oldest daughter and I set out on a father-daughter date so she could spend her Christmas gift cards. The original plan was to hit the furthest out stores first, making the last stop the local Wal-Mart--which is no more than a pig’s fart away. At the last minute, I made Wal-Mart the first stop, not wanting to end a pleasant day with reminders of what society will devolve

to when the zombie apocalypse hits. Never before has my wife been happy I disobeyed her. Around the time my oldest and I were returning home, the sheriff’s department was receiving a 9-1-1 call concerning a shopper carrying a gun. According to the original plan, we would have been leaving the Wal-Mart at the time sheriff’s deputies made contact with the gunman, Anthony A. Martinez, a thirty-one-year-old from Utah, and an upstanding petty criminal. The Wal-Mart parking lot quickly became the scene of a modern day gunfight at the O. K. Corral. Two deputies were wounded, and Martinez was fatally shot. Unfortunately, Martinez’ thirteen-year-old girlfriend was caught in the crossfire, and killed when she ran into the middle of the shooting. That’s right. I said thirteen.

Another eight months passed without incident. All was quiet in the burg with the exception of exceptional neighbors (more on that in future posts). Then September 13th, 2011 happens.

I work from home. My office is in the utility room with a small desk shoved between the freezer and an old china cabinet. There are no windows. As a result, much of the outside world passes by while working. The noise of a helicopter hovering over the house, however, demands some amount of attention. I became curious if the rumored meth house four doors down was being raided. Foolishly curious, I stepped outside. What I saw was a pillar of smoke in the opposite direction. Seems I missed seeing the Dodge Durango speed past my house at 50 MPH. The diver of the Durango managed to miss the bright red stop sign at the end of the street, miss two lanes of traffic on a busy street, and utilized a neighbor’s garage in place of the brakes. A fire followed thanks to a busted natural gas line, and the driver was rescued by every day Joes turned hero. The home owners were gone at the time of the accident. A small favor? That is up to them to decide.

The street I live on was blocked off a few feet from my house, causing concerns over the wisdom of remaining at home rather than taking the more prudent action of voluntarily evacuating. The area was a circus of the curious for the next four hours. I watched car after car ignore the huge ROAD CLOSED sign, driving over orange cones. I have no idea if these idiots were attempting to get a better look at the fire, or if their destination was so important they felt it was necessary to ignore a roadblock set up for their safety. But they were not alone. The street quickly filled up with looky-loos migrating on foot--also ignoring the rather blunt sign. Even our own flesh and blood was drawn to the near tragedy. A cousin parked her car in our driveway before ambling on down the road for a better view. Sadly, I doubt if I’m any better. I was seriously considering propping up the ladder in the back, and offering folks an elevated view for ten bucks a pop. (Ultimately, I decided I wasn’t poor enough to shame myself in that manner.)

After the flight of the Durango, the neighborhood was quiet for a long time; for fourteen days to be exact. On September 27th, 2011, Lester Bradley Steele was pissed off. Steele lived in a nearby apartment complex that we have visited on occasion so my oldest could enjoy the company of a classmate. At 4:30 in the morning, Steele called his brother-in-law, claiming he had killed his wife and daughter. This call started the fun. The brother-in-law rightfully called the police. The police attempted to talk to Steele, at which point Steele decided it would be a fine idea to shoot at the responding officers. Enter SWAT. Police, SWAT, and tanks. . . That’s what I like to see in my neighborhood. Around 10:30, Steele surrendered without further incident. I have to assume he did not kill his wife and daughter since none of the charges against him mention murder. This occurred on a Tuesday morning near the elementary school my youngest daughter attends. You would think the police would have notified the school, and the school in turn would have informed parents to keep their kids home for the day, you know, with a mad man shooting at cops a hundred or so yards away. Nope! The sidewalks were clogged with kids heading for school just like any other school day.

Since Steele’s melt down, we have enjoyed some amount of quiet. Nothing too terribly unusual for my damn neighborhood. Feel free to visit, but I recommend a wardrobe fashioned from Kevlar, and don’t forget to bring your own fire extinguisher.

Associated Links:
House Fire
Wal-Mart Shooting: King5
Wal-Mart Shooting: Seattle Times
Wal-Mart Shooting:KiroTV
Durango Fire
Steel's Standoff
More on Steele

Friday, October 14, 2011


25. “Seems there’s a story there,” Jori prodded. Sam pointed to his harelip. “Because of this, I have been blamed for all the ills my village.”

26. Sam spoke of Green Cove, and the mysterious occurrence of the invisible dam. He finished with the mud slide. Jori kept his tongue.

27. “And now you hope to find who created this dam that is not there,” Jori surmised. “Do you have a plan?” Sam glanced to the fire. “No.”

28. “Well, Sam of no plan, may I suggest you travel with me?” Sam graced Jori with suspicious stare. “If I wished to rob you, you’d be dead.”

29. “It’s a long way to Little Port, and it’s as good a destination as any for a boy without a plan.” Jori shrugged when Sam remained silent.

30. Morning came in vibrant colors. Sam ate in silence before saddling his horse, and following Jori deeper into the forest.

31. They covered little ground on that first day. Jori spent the time regaling Sam of his daring deeds, lost loves, and disdain for authority.

32. They made camp early. “Show me what you can do with that.” Jori pointed toward the rusted sword looped through Sam’s belt.

33. Turned out Sam could do little with his father’s sword. “Never-ever carry a weapon you don’t know how to use,” Jori admonished.

34. Jori drilled Sam long after the blisters popped and started to bleed. The boy was aching all over when finally allowed water and sleep.

35. Jori welcomed the quiet and a chance to study the slumbering boy. Something trouble the hedge knight. He sought answers well into the night.

36. The first week passed in slow travel and hard training. Jori sat beside Sam as night descended. “We are being followed.” He informed Sam.

Sam of Green Cove 1-12

Sam of Green Cove 13-24

Friday, October 7, 2011


The first review of “Shadows Beyond the Flames” has been posted on Goodreads.

A person's work being reviewed is always nerve wracking,
and we all know it, so I won't bore you with the agony's suffered. I'll simply say I'm rather pleased with what Sanelso2 Nelson wrote:

"First off, I need to give my thanks to Good reads for sending me this book. I appreciate it very much.
At times I wondered if the author was crazy sometimes bordering on mentally unstable. There were moments I loved the book and moments I felt somewhat lost. However, I found one common theme throughout, he is very good with how he can describe the situation. I thought he was quite witty in some of the stories. I just didnt enjoy them all, which is to be expected seeings as the book runs from the future space travels to fantasy to abusive fathers. On average it was a good read, I would be more interested in a novel (which he says is to come) than a collection of short stories.”

Nelson's review is fair and honest. Yes, I appreciate the ego boosting lines--I'm human after all. I also appreciate Nelson's honesty in mentioning being lost at times. Such comments force me to re-examine what I'm doing and make it better. But I wonder if Nelson knew my favorite quote from the review would be: "At times I wondered if the author was crazy sometimes bordering on mentally unstable." I'd like to say, "No!" but only crazy people say they're not crazy. Plenty of days have passed in which I'm left scratching my head over what I had written, wondering how things could have gone so horribly wrong for those poor, poor characters. Instinct says to stick with the ick, so I do; even when the events in Shadows Beyond the Flames left me disturbed. But it's fun. Roller coaster through the pits of Hell sort of fun. . . Okay, not that extreme.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


13. Smoke billowed from the door and windows as Sam turned the horse into the trail. He set the mount to a trot as torches fanned out behind.

14. Sam knew returning to Green Cove demanded he clear his name. He was determined to discover the cause behind the cove’s invisible dam.

15. Sam avoided trails and roads as he fled. Despite these efforts, he spotted riders on his back trail. The riders vanished on the fourth day.

16. Sam rationed food like a miser, but found himself in need of fresh meat after a week in the forest. He hunted on foot with bow and arrow.

17. He came upon a buck drinking from a creek. Sam released the arrow before the buck picked up his scent. It was not a clean kill.

18. Sam tracked the buck for over a league before coming upon its body. “That’s the king’s deer.” Sam spun around at the voice, arrow notched.

19. “You have nothing to fear from me, boy.” The speaker was old enough to be Sam’s father. “I have little concern for king’s law when hungry.”

20. Sam stood between the man and the buck. “This is my kill.” The man shrugged. “Never said it wasn’t. That’s an awful lot of meat for a boy.”

21. The man held out a hand. “Lower the bow. I’ll carve and dress the buck while you retrieve your horse.” Sam declined. “You’ll steal from me.”

22. The man hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Left my destrier and mule in that copse. Take my mount to retrieve yours.” Sam hesitantly agreed.

23. Venison steaks were broiling over a fire when Sam returned. “Your horse bites.” The man glanced toward him. “All good warhorses bite.”

24. “Name’s Jori,” The man said as he served them. “I’m a hedge knight on my way to Little Port. What’s your story?” Sam shrugged. “Run off.”

Sam of Green Cove 1-12