Another orbit

This online enterprise in authorial self-promotion has, as of today, completed three full trips around the sun!

In all that time I’ve gotten a bit better about posting regularly, and the posts themselves have gotten longer, though whether that is a good or bad thing I leave to your judgment. I’ve also gone from having a whopping three tales in anthologies to my credit, to now boasting dozens of published stories. (Yes, plural meaning two. 24 stories. And one poem. Not bad for three years’ work.)

Thank you for visiting this corner of the interwebs, and for reading and reviewing my stories! Let’s all keep it up for years to come, shall we?

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Leafing through the past

The creeping, choking vines have unfurled their black tendrils, pushing open the gates of DEATH’S GARDEN!

This anthology from LVP Publications contains both short stories and poems, including my short story “Green Growing Things” which you may remember had its genesis in an attempt to write for a specific anthology call, as I detailed in this post. I’m not sure what I can say about the tale that I didn’t divulge earlier, but just in case you’re avoiding that post for some reason, here’s the highlights: it is yet another entry in the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite druid private eye Kellan Oakes, it was written as a pulpy horror story in which Kellan faces off against an adversary with extreme botanophobia, it sheds a little more light on Kellan’s unusual childhood, and it even delves into Kellan’s love life, such as it is. Mystery! Monsters! Romance! This one has it all!

You can pick up a copy for your library from Amazon right now. Don’t be left behind on the tour through Death’s Garden!

Branching out

If you check out my Works page you’ll see that I have added a new category: Poetry and Drabbles. This month saw my first ever poetry publication, in the Siren’s Call eZine, and my first ever drabble publication, in Trembling With Fear.

These are different literary forms for me but, for better or worse, very much in a familiar genre, namely fantastical horror. So if you tend to like the things I usually write, “Requital” and “Preservation” aren’t exactly revolutionary departures.

“Requital”, in terms of form, is a villanelle, perhaps most famously typified by “Do not go gentle into that good night”. Although, more accurately, my poem is a double villanelle, which is a variation on the form which I made up because I couldn’t fit my whole idea into nineteen lines. More power to Dylan Thomas that he could.

“Preservation” is a drabble, which is a prose piece of exactly 100 words. Clearly this is the shortest thing I’ve had published (by an inverse order of magnitude at least), and it’s hard to imagine myself ever being able to say much of anything more concisely than that.

In any case, you can find “Requital” HERE and “Preservation” HERE. Enjoy!

Card-carrying membership

If you’ve ever perused the mini-wiki on this site devoted to Kellan Oakes, you’ve run across the name-dropping assertion that my fictional creation is part of a “proud literary tradition of occult detectives”. In theory, this could be up for debate, as matters of official taxonomy often are. But as of today, I have a splendid piece of evidence supporting my side of the argument, to wit that a Kellan Oakes story has appeared between the covers of OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY. Behold my bona fides:

“One of the most important new fantasy magazines of the decade.” – Black Gate Online

The fourth issue of ODQ is now available and contains, among other tales, “Abduction in Ash” written by yours truly and starring Kellan Oakes, who takes on a missing person case and finds himself once again at the wrong end of some nasty, gnarly forest folk. To pull back the curtain a bit, this is a story I wrote quite some time ago, when the Kellan Oakes series started taking on a life of its own and I was doing research into creatures of legend to find likely pegs I might hang stories on. I wound up digging into some fairly obscure corners, and I can only hope that I ended up doing justice to the original lore.

Feel free to judge for yourself – you can obtain your own copy of Occult Detective Quarterly #4 right here!

Convergent visions

I’m at the point where it’s still extremely gratifying and exciting to see a publisher go to the trouble of obtaining the services of an artist to illustrate one of my stories, particularly when said illustration turns out to be GORGEOUS:

This artwork is the handiwork of Russell Smeaton, who pretty much rules. It is intended to accompany my forthcoming Kellan Oakes tale, “Abduction in Ash”, appearing in the fourth issue of Occult Detective Quarterly any day now! The interiors of ODQ are black and white, so this will become a grey-toned rendering in the magazine, but I’m delighted to present it in glorious technicolor here.

Considering that Russell and I had never met before, and he had only the text of the story itself to work with, I think the manner in which he was able to capture something frighteningly close to my own mental constructs is phenomenal. I hope the story itself will live up to what’s promised here – watch this space for an update on the release soon!

Flattering comparisons

Feast or famine, as usual – I am loading up the blog with content right now because I happen to have projects popping left and right! If it were up to me I would distribute the releases more equitably throughout the calendar, but it very much is not up to me. So in a few months I will be scraping my second-hand advice barrel for a post about why stories should never start with nor end with a character waking up, but right now I’m sounding off every couple of days.

In any case, today I’m posting again about Red in Tooth and Claw because I just wanted to share a mood-altering review of the story provided by my old friend Derrick Ferguson:

Know what I really liked about RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW? The more I read, the more I felt like I was reading a prose version of “Marvel Feature” or “Marvel Premier” from the 1970s. You remember those comic books, don’t you? Of course you do. They were anthology titles, their main purpose being to try out characters and see if they had enough interest and popularity to be given their own books. I don’t know if that was your intent, Dale, but if it was, you pulled it off.

Copyright Marvel Comics Group, used without permission but, uh, Derrick brought it up!

It’s not easy to introduce a protagonist, an antagonist, secondary characters and wrap them up in credible, satisfying motivations and provide action scenes all in such a short amount of wordage. I mean, you could easily have made this story twice or even three times as long as it is. But then again you might have lost the relentless thrust of the prose as this thing just keeps moving and doesn’t stop for anything. But still, it doesn’t feel like you’re rushing anything, either. The story progresses in a logical manner, the events coming one after another in what feels quite natural.

I found myself enjoying the story so much, in fact that I cheerfully overlooked the tired old wheeze of having the hero fight a villain whose powers are the opposite of his because you explained later on why that happened. It just wasn’t a random thing.

If this is meant as a taste or tease leading into further adventures of Snow Wolf then you’re off to a good start. Good job, Dale and I’m looking forward to more.

If that doesn’t entice you to click on the link above and pay 99 cents to read the story for yourself, I do not know what will. And as far as Derrick’s curiosity about the potential for future adventures of Snow Wolf, I can say that it is a definite possibility! I truly did conceive of the story initially as a standalone thing, but as time has passed since then I’ve been collecting more and more ideas for building out that world. So get in on the ground floor while you can!

Bam! Wap! Zowie!

Cast your memory back a couple of yesteryears and you might recall I was eagerly anticipating the publication of my first stand-alone work. At long last, the wait is over! May I proudly present …

NB: Groovy cover imagery notwithstanding, this is a short story, not a novel. That said, it’s a fairly action-packed, cinematic short story if I do say so myself. And the asking price is a mere pittance at 99 cents.

Get your Kindle copy on Amazon, and thrill to the adventures of Snow Wolf, a hero who fights to save the world and finds the very planet more than willing and able to fight back on its own! It’s the classic conflict of Man Versus Nature with superpowers, monsters, metaphysical mysteries and geological disasters!

RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW – Available now from Phrenic Press!