I’ve never been terribly good at actually plotting out a story bit by bit. Mostly when I write, I have the basic idea of where I want to start and where I want to end up and largely let the story unfold as it deems fit. However, as an exercise in keeping my skills sharp and experimenting with new plots, I’ll sometimes take current events and see what kind of novel I could write from them if I had the time and didn’t already have one novel I need to edit, a novella I need to finish, and a pair of books to get going. And a couple short stories I want to write and have ready for submission. Who knows, maybe I’ll scrape out the time to write this sucker at some point.

Still, it’s a great exercise. So, here’s the newest idea, based loosely around the current creepy clown sightings that have been popping up. So what if it’s kind of been done, take the story and add your own twists to it.


Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) was a documentary. Most people don’t realize this, but it’s true. Given the recent spate of clown sightings the world over, one would expect people to come to their senses and recognize the threat that’s smiling and holding balloons right outside their doors. For too long, people have been taken in by these comedic rapscallions, not realizing the smiles hide teeth and the balloons are filled with bad dreams and madness.

Rather than focus on the whole world, it’s best to limit the geographic range, so the story starts small with a few random sightings of clowns in a tiny town. They don’t even need to necessarily be creepy clowns, because all clowns are creepy. Just ask Too Much Joy.

At first, the town sees the clowns as kind of strange aberration, kind of like the sightings of people in black trench coats. Odd, but mostly harmless and largely ignorable. And probably the work of that weird kid on the other side of the tracks that listens to that horrible clown music. Soon, the clowns get more aggressive and as people start seeing them closer up, the smiles turn sinister. But the clowns always disappear before anyone can get too close.


Don’t mind me, I’m just hanging out in a park at night dressed like a clown. Nothing to worry about.

The small town is in New Mexico (or some other state. I choose New Mexico because I’ve lived in small towns here. Trust me, they’re inherently odd), and no one thinks much of the clown sightings until a clown tries to grab a young girl. That even finally pushes the people over the edge. They put together a posse and decide to capture a clown, just to prove it’s that punk kid down the street that listens to Insane Clown Posse and teach him a lesson. A little ass whoopin’ should nudge that kid back toward normalcy.

The posse will consist of one tough, but wise old rancher. He’s seen a lot and is fairly patient. He’ll be the hero of the story. For some reason, I’m convinced he needs to be named Jake. The rest of the posse will consist of Jake’s best friend from High School (Go Hounds!) and a few hot-headed hangers-on.

The posse sets out and finds a clown in the park late one night. In a fit of redneck power, they descend on him. The clown disappears and the group finds itself standing in the park wondering what happened.

That’s when the clown reappears and the posse gets its first look at the face of evil.


It’s a funny joke. Why aren’t you laughing?

The clown sets upon a random guy and tears his throat out with fangs. Guns are drawn, shots are fired. It should be a tense, terrifying scene. Imaging seeing the white face and black lips of the clown, hearing the bells on his costume jingling, but not being able to see him in the inky blackness.

The posse panics and bolts. Of the five people that set out, one is dead, one is missing, one has a nasty bite on his shoulder. The two unharmed guys – including the stoic hero (Jake) – hightail it to a jacked up 4×4. They scream out of the park and make their way to the parking lot of a local grocery store. Small towns are notoriously poorly lit and the Piggly Wiggly has a lot of light.

Safe under the buzzing sodium lights and bathed in the faint orange glow, they decide it had to be the punk kid. This time, though, he’s gone too far. They make their way to his place and find the door wide open. Inside, they find the kid in full Juggalo makeup with his chest torn open. On the wall, written in blood is a single word: Imposter.

Outside the door, a bell jingles. Everyone jumps. Guns are drawn. The bells jingle off down the street while a sickening laugh echoes. The clowns have just stepped up the game.


You bastards! You soaked it all!

With the punk kid dead, one friend dead, and another missing, the group makes its way back to their respective houses. Everything gets locked up tight and they nervously wait out the night while bells jingle in the distance.

In the morning, the bodies and all evidence of the night are gone. No one can find the kid anywhere, the dead member of the posse are nowhere to be found, the missing guy from the posse is still missing, and the kid’s house is clean. Everyone thinks the guys in the posse just had a few too many and everything will be fine.

That night, a young woman is taking a walk. It’s a small town, there’s no crime to speak of, and it’s highly unlikely the clowns are the real thing. She’s from a larger city and not given to giving into small-town paranoia. A shadowy shape appears at the end of the street. She remembers the city and panics. When she turns a clown is right behind her, holding a spinning coin.


Focus on the coin, not my face.

Just like Daphne from Scooby Doo, she falls under the clown’s spell. Unlike Daphne, she won’t just find herself in a leotard and riding a unicycle. In a future book, she’ll be our interface to the world of the clowns.

With the young woman gone, her would-be boyfriend goes to the head of the posse (Jake) and tells him he believes him. He also asks about old man Smith’s shack out in the desert (or woods, or swamp, or whatever). It’s a good guess and they head out to the shack. Inside is nothing but the young woman (Let’s call her Audra), tied to a chair and looking dazed.

They rescue her and eventually manage to her head back on straight. Audra tells them what happened and how there are dozens of clowns. They all went into the shack and disappeared. The last one left her alive and tied up because he thought it was funny.


Was there a Scooby Doo episode where Daphne didn’t get captured and tied up? Must be a bondage thing.

As the story progresses, the town slowly goes over the edge. The clowns kill seemingly at random and hypnotize other people. The mayor gets hypnotized and orders everyone to keep quiet about the clowns. They’re just some kind of mass hysteria and everyone needs to get over it.

The key to the story is to never reveal too much about the clowns. They’re an interdimensional species that revels in causing havoc. Eventually the heroes figure out the clowns’ entry point to our world is the shack and attempt to destroy it. A bit of dynamite flattens the place and they all pat themselves on the back for a job well done.


Always go for the guy with the biggest balls in a fight.

That night the full force of the clowns hits the town. Telephone lines go down, all communication is cut off and the clowns attack in earnest. Almost everyone dies. The boyfriend manages to save the young woman (or she saves him, either way works), but they both find themselves cornered by a clown. The hero of the story, the leader of the posse (Jake), intervenes. The clowns kill him, but he manages to save the young couple. The couple piles into the hero’s truck and spend the rest of the night running from clowns and generally trying to escape.

As morning dawns, the couple finds one last clown heading toward the desert. He walks to the remains of the shack, turns and waves at the couple, and disappears.

Of course, they pack up their things and get the heck out of the dead town. They settle in the big city and find the world thinks the town was killed by drug dealers or terrorists or some such. Eventually, after weeks of no clowns, the couple settles down and manages to convince themselves it was all just a dream.

Until they see a commercial on TV and realize it’s all about to start all over again.


Made from 100% organic, free-range humans.

Come to think of it, maybe I do need to write this sucker. I’ll be doing some character sketches later this week, so stay tuned to meet the cast.

A Story

This is a tale I heard way back in Junior High when I was studying Spanish. It’s one of those things that’s stuck with me over the years as an excellent example of the things that terrify others can be overcome by changing the rules, or just by realizing no one else completely gets the rules.

Back in old Mexico, when banditos roamed the desert taking what they wanted and generally causing mayhem, there was one bandit that was feared above all others: El Guapo.

El Guapo was a bandito’s bandito. If a bank was robbed, everyone knew it was El Guapo. When a train disappeared and the desiccated corpses of the passengers were found months later, staked out in the desert and picked clean by crows, it was El Guapo. He was a vicious son of a bitch and he never shirked away from letting people know that.

Like all good banditos, El Guapo had  a certain kind of panache. In addition to his amazing cruelty, El Guapo loved to taunt to the Federales with lyrical messages that explained not only why he killed everyone who crossed him, but why the Federales were impotent to stop him.

He was also known for his epic beard. In the annals of history, El Guapo’s beard is still the standard by which others are judged. The members of ZZ Top are only considered to have 0.8 El Guapo beards; that’s how amazing his beard was.

No one had ever seen El Guapo without his beard. Legend had it that he was born with the beard. In a single breath, people would praise the beard and feel sorry El Guapo’s mother who was said to have died in childbirth because of that glorious facial hair.

Well, as these things happen, eventually the Federales caught up to El Guapo and his gang in a small town dedicated to Santa Muerte, which was an appropriate place for a slaughter. For all his wealth and power, El Guapo couldn’t stand up to the combined might of the Federales. Bullets flew and soon the smell of gunpowder and copper filled the streets. The battle took a heavy toll on both sides, but it was El Guapo’s men that bore the brunt of the lead.

El Guapo himself lucked out and barely escaped the bloodshed, but he only had the slightest lead on the Federales. His knowledge of the desert helped him, as did his keen night vision as he guided his horse by the light of the full moon.

He’d always dreamed of going out in a blaze of glory, gunned down by at least a dozen Federales, but Santa Muerte had cheated him of his glory. So, he struggled to find a way to disappear into the world and hide out until he could be reborn.

In the first town he came to, El Guapo made a decision that he never thought could. Desperate times drove him to desperate measures and he sought out the barber shop.

After banging on the door for at least half an hour, the old barber finally answered the door. He nearly fainted when he saw El Guapo, dirty and bloody, on his doorstep in the wee hours of the morning. He knew he had to tread carefully, lest the bandito shoot him where he stood.

Señor Guapo,” the barber stuttered. “To what do I owe this honor?”

El Guapo shoved his way inside the barber shop and slammed the door. “I need to you to shave my beard,” El Guapo said. “I’ll happily pay you three gold pieces for your troubles.

The barber was aghast. El Guapo without his beard wouldn’t be El Guapo.

“But,” El Guapo continued, “I have very sensitive skin. If you nick me while you’re shaving me, I’ll shoot you where you stand.”

The barber went white as a sheet. There was no doubt in his mind the bandito would pull the trigger. “Señor,” the barber pleaded. “I am an old man and my hands are prone to shaking. Please, let me get my assistant; he is much better at shaving anyway.”

The barber told his assistant El Guapo would pay him three gold coins for a shave – a king’s ransom! – but also had very sensitive skin and a single nick would spell death for the shaver.”

The assistant was talented, but even the most talented people find their hands shaking when threatened with death. “Let me get our young intern, Señor. He  is young and without a family and his hands don’t shake at all.”

The intern was still yawning and rubbing his eyes when he was led to see El Guapo. “I’ll make you an offer, intern,” El Guapo said. “Shave my beard off without a scratch and I’ll pay you in gold. But, be warned, I have very sensitive skin and if you cut me, I’ll gun you down where you stand.”

El Guapo took a seat in the sole barber’s chair and motioned the young intern to come over. ‘Okay,” the intern said and shrugged his shoulders.

The young intern gave El Guapo the best shave he’d ever had. When he was done, El Guapo’s skin was smooth as silk and for the first time he could remember, the infamous bandito gazed on himself without the famous beard. He looked like a completely different person, gentler perhaps, but still living up to his name.

He happily gave the intern the promised three gold pieces. “You do excellent work,” El Guapo said. “Your hands didn’t shake at all. Weren’t you afraid you’d cut me?”

The intern shook his head. “Not really. If I’d cut you, I would have just slit your throat right then and there.”

Free Short Story


Your interesting bit of trivia for the day: Zona Peligrosa has a companion story. The two short stories are intended to introduce Jack and Sally Anne and set up a book I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while. Loophole, the companion story to Zona Peligrosa, was published in the IASD Holes Anthology last year. So, for those of you who’ve read The Clock Man and wondered if there was more about Jack’s devil girlfriend, the answer is yes and Sally Anne is quite the bad ass in her own right.

Download links below. Enjoy.

Get the Mobi here

Get the Epub here

Get the PDF here


My Write Me A Story

Since a couple others have written stories (look for the reblogged posts), it’s probably time I got mine going. Don’t expect perfection, this only had a quick edit, but it should be entertaining. In case you’re just dropping by and happen to see this, this story (and the others) are from a little writing exercise I started this weekend. Feel free to add your own. Just let me know and I’ll reblog it.


They call this place Neon City.

It’s a slick sounding name for a derelict part of town. The bright lights obscure the dark heart and the constant rain can’t wash away the deep taint of sin. If you believe in sin this is the place to come. Indulgence is this burg’s middle name.

They also say Neon City never sleeps. I disagree. I say Neon City never wakes up. It’s forever lost in a halcyon dream of long-forgotten elegance. It dreams of its own heightened importance and the half-hearted excuses we all tell ourselves when we wake up in the morning and see drooping mugs staring back from mirrors. The rotgut was flowing, the dames were willing, that little guy was laughing, and the goat didn’t seem any the worse for wear.

No harm, no foul. Right?

In the warm light of the sun our sins feel real and tangible. They’re painful, hateful things to contemplate. Then the sun goes down and the real lights shine. The blues and greens and purples make our lives seem exciting and purposeful; they hide the blemishes.

I left here after a … misunderstanding. It seems the local powers that be didn’t appreciate me sticking my nose in places that stunk to high heaven of graft and deep perversion. What can I say? I’m curious. It makes me good at what I do.

Most folks around here call this road Lover’s Lane. There’s not a lot of romance on this road but the sneaky euphemism makes the working girls turning tricks in the alleys seem almost wholesome. People from the outside call it Hell’s Highway.

I call those people boring.

I’ve got a date waiting for me just down this road. You can beat my ass down in the street and I’ll let it ride. Sometimes getting your gums massaged with a tire iron is the price for getting the story. Burn my apartment, kill my dog, torch my car? Fine. Shit happens. When the headlines roll off the presses I’m the last one laughing.

But you whack the dame I’m dizzy with and I’m gonna burn powder.

There’s a lump of steel in my pocket. I’ve got all the evidence I need. There won’t be a story written about this one, though. No headlines. No prizes. My final misdeed will miss the news rags entirely and go quietly into the dark night. I’m fine with that; I’ve got nothing left to worry about anymore, anyway.

The Jade Dragon is guarded twenty-four seven by a couple mooks in expensive suits. They’re former button men who took on the cush job of standing around and looking mean. One of them flexes and I get the impression he’s got a small car up his sleeve. He holds out a meaty paw and stabs a sausage into my chest.

“You ain’t supposed to be here, Felix,” he says. He’s got that droning accent all these guys pick up at mobster school.

“Don’t I know it,” I tell him. “I just came to pay my respects to your boss before I skedaddle.”

“She’s busy,” the other mook says. His unibrow furrows as he glares at me. I’m sure I’m supposed to be scared, but he looks like he’s got a couple ditch caterpillars above his eyes.

I nod and try my best act small and weak. “I’m sure she is, boss. I’m sure she is,” I say. “She’s got a city to run into the ground.”

Unibrow glares at me. Meaty fist gives me a little shove. “Show’s over newshawk,” he says. “Time to take it on the heel and toe.”

I put my hands in the pockets of my battered rain coat and shrug. “I’m going, I’m going,” I say. “I don’t suppose you guys could give her a message for me.”

“I could give her some of your teeth,” Unibrow says. “Would that work?”

Both mooks burst out laughing. They’re probably reminiscing about the good old days of taking out a guy’s chompers with a pair of pliers.

I look around, making sure there aren’t any flatties sticking their piggy noses around and say, “That wasn’t the message I had it mind.”

“What’d you have in mind?” Meaty Fist asks.

“This,” I say.

My roscoe barks twice, blowing holes in my coat. You can’t aim a gun well when it’s in your pocket, but at this range it ain’t hard to hit to these two palookas.

They look shocked, amazed that anyone would have the moxie to chill ’em off in broad daylight. Like I said, I ain’t got nothin’ to lose so I can afford to be a bit goofy.

“Think you can remember that?” I ask as they slide to the ground. “Or should I say it again?”

Both took gut shots. Probably not gonna put ’em on ice, but those pills in the tummy hurt like hell. Unibrow tries to struggle to his feet and I kick him in the chompers on the way into the Jade Dragon.

The bar is dark all the time. It’s the best way to make sure no one watches anyone else, but I know the madam has mics on all the tables. That’s how she found out about my best girl.

I stick to the shadows and make my way to the dance floor. There, right in the middle of the dance floor is Lara Jade, owner of the Jade Dragon and all-around scum merchant. She’s propped on a table with a guy’s head between her legs. Her head is back and her eyes are closed.

I put a bullet in the back of the guy’s skull. He’d probably just as soon forget the whole experience, anyway. Lara jumps and peers around the darkened club.

She composes herself quickly. “Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” she asks the darkness.

“I’m up to my neck in trouble, doll face,” I say.

Lara looks completely unconcerned. She pushes the dead guy’s head out of her lap and adjusts her dress. “I don’t know what’s worse; that you’re threatening me or that you killed him before he was done.”

I take careful aim and hope the shakes don’t pick right now to come back. My heater spits lead and her right leg goes out from under her. She screams and collapses in a heap.

“Next time I’ll let you finish before I put a bullet in you,” I say. I step into the lighted dance floor and smile warmly at her.

Recognition crosses her face, but she’s still not scared. Hurt, yeah, but not scared. “You should have stayed gone, Felix,” she hisses through gritted teeth.

“I miss the hot dogs down here,” I tell her.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Lara asks, scooting away from me. “You know you’ll never walk out of here alive.”

“I’ve got three shots,” I tell her. “Two for you, one for me.”

That caught her attention. “I just wanted to say goodbye before I left town for good,” I tell her.

Never cross a man with nothing left to lose.


Write Me A Story

I’ve pulled a lot of inspiration from random images I’ve found all over the Internet. An image of a cowboy with a katana became the impetus for The Clock Man. This image below became the opening scene of a short story I finished (and still need to edit and submit) about an assassin that kills by taking over people’s minds and making her hits look like suicides. Things naturally go all haywire and she winds up stuck in the mind of her target, running for her life while her AI controls her own body.


I often stumble across a picture and wonder how did it get to that point? A picture is a snapshot of a point in time. It may contain hints of the past or the future, but it’s largely a singular piece of right then and there. The rest of the story – before and after that snapshot – is entirely up to the viewer. In this way, we all create stories in our heads. Even if we don’t realize we’re doing it, those stories are being created and edited and turned into something magical all the time.

Not that I’m saying the pictures themselves aren’t magical; they often whisper volumes of magic. It’s up to us, the viewers, to give that magic a voice and breathe a past and future into that moment in time.

It’s also a really good writing exercise.

I ran one of these last year and had a couple people add short stories. So, not a bad response for my little blog. This time around, I’d like to try something a bit different. If you’re a writer, or just someone who fancies a challenge, take one of the pictures below and write something short about it. Keep it short, under 1k words or so. Tell the past, tell the future. Make it yours. I’ll be doing the same. When yours is done, let me know and I’ll reblog it. With a small bit of luck, we’ll get some interesting tales. If one of the pictures doesn’t work for you, pick a new one.

My story will be up later tonight or tomorrow. Here’s hoping I get some takers.

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Absotively, Posilutely Free

Back in March or April of 2015, a little tipsy from good Scotch, I was browsing and chatting with some author buds on fb when inspiration – or madness – struck.  We’ve got a good group of indie authors that get together and share information, trade arcane secrets, and review each other’s works.  On that fateful night, when inspiration and good Scotch came together, an idea flashed: a horrible, wonderful, terrifying idea.

We should write an anthology of short stories.

After bouncing around ideas for a theme and a title and various rules of writing, we settled on a theme of holes, a maximum word count of around 7500 words per story, and titled it Holes.  Nico Laeser illustrated the cover using various digital and arcane means, I did the cover text layout and eBook formatting, and thirteen authors (including myself and Nico) put together some short stories.  The result was pretty damned amazing.

The Indie Author Support and Discussion Group proudly presents Holes: An Indie Author Anthology
Starting with the theme of holes of any kind, an international group of indie authors put their writing minds to work to come up a collection of stories that will make you laugh, cry, shudder in fear, and want to clap your hands. Inside you’ll find stories about:

A twisted story about innocence and revenge.
A young woman racing for her life and her love against the age of clockworks.
A man who lost his life in a traffic accident and discovers the afterlife is being stuck in a classroom.
A young African schoolteacher who tackles a band of ruthless, marauding terrorists.
A Russian mobster who made a deal and thought he’d found a loophole to get out of it.
A cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for…you just may get it.
A place where life disappears to when you’re not watching.
A question about whether we are really the dominant species and masters of our own future.
A reader-interactive comedy of errors.
An anomalous client demanding something written from the soul, a soul he is threatening to take
An Inspector Winsford murder mystery.
A legacy gift that just goes on giving.
Slapstick comedy with a touch of British buffoonery
A pretty tease who toys with her theology professor until dark revelations stop her in her tracks.

Some stories are full of sorrow, others full of joy, but all of them will leave you wanting more.


But don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself.  It’s absolutely, positively, 100% free.  You can find it on:


Barnes & Noble




iBooks (sorry, I don’t have a link for iBooks, but I know it’s there.  Search for Holes by IASD)

Why are you still here?  Go get a copy and read it.  My story is Loophole, by the way.

A picture is worth…

A thousand words, right?  Well, with inflation and whatnot, a picture is worth much less than it used to be.  Back in my day a picture was worth a book, now it’s only a couple hundred words.

I’m doing a bit of experimentation.  Back when I was in college, I was a huge Simpsons fan.  I still like the show, but it’s not quite the same as it was when I was young, footloose, and fancy-free.  Anyway, there was a great episode titled 22 Short Films About Springfield that had, you guessed it, 22 short films.  About Springfield.  If you think about it, the show took some skill to put together.  The average Simpsons episode was right around twenty minutes at the time and that left less than a minute to tell each story.

Gotta be compact with that kind of run time.  In fact, a minute of dialogue amounts to something like a 120-130 words.  For those keeping score at home, that’s about half a page of text.  A two hour movie would have about 15,000 words at that rate.  Compare that to a novel – 40k+ words (Henchmen was about 72k, Arise around 90k) – and you can see just how much information can be packed into a picture.

Since I can’t draw to save my own butt, I write (and weave paracord bracelets, but that’s neither here nor there).  As an experiment, I found some pictures and tried come up with a coherent story in a couple hundred words for each image, just to see if I could make it happen.  What follows are some pictures and some extremely short stories about those pictures.


The very last shot of the RMS Titanic as it steamed away from port in 1911.

“When the captain called for flank speed the shovels dug and the coal flew.  The ship shuddered, a living thing breathing fire and belching smoke like the devil himself.  While the passengers danced and drank and partied the trip away we slung tons of fuel into the belly of the beast and danced our own waltz of sweat and coal dust.

You can keep your fancy ladies with their fineries and petticoats begging to be pulled down.  You can kiss those ruby lips and toast with fine champaign and eat delicate caviar.  I’ll stay down here, in the beating, pulsing heart of my lady fair.  She’s clad in metal skirts but her smooth skin is hot to the touch and I’ll happily spend my life keeping her alive.”

German flying ace, ‘The Red Baron’ and his dog (1916)

Manfred Von Richtofen and his dog.

“I will never completely understand these hairless dogs that insist on standing on both legs and touching things with their strange paws, but this one is my friend and my pack-mate.  He watches out for me, brings me food and water and scratches my ears.  In turn, I keep him safe.  His hearing is pathetic and he snores all night long, but a lame dog is still a pack-mate and we are bound together in the sacred oath of the pack.

Each day he climbs aboard that loud red bird and together they soar and bark, but he always comes back to me.  Some dogs – and I feel sorry for them, the poor wasted mongrels – don’t understand what it means to be part of a pack, even if it is just a pack of two.  Every time he climbs into that bird, I wait patiently for him to come back.  I’ll wait until the end of time, right here, ready to see him and wag.”

Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, 1918

Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, circa 1918

“In school they taught us the theory of the airships, how Professor Von Cleef figured out how to conquer gravity by beating it at its own game.  Turn the wheel the right amount and the ship will go up, turn another wheel too much and the ship will go into a nosedive.  I can barely hear over the noise of the turbines but when the command comes to make the airship go I know exactly what to do.

Most people, they get in front of a wall of wheels and their brains immediately shut down.  Those people never make it through school, they never get to feel the thrum of the engines in the metal floorboards under their feet, they never get to look closely and comprehend the meaning in the apparent chaos.

It’s really like anything else; reduce it to its individual components and an airship control room is just a bunch of singular things.  Spin this, gently twist that, and the ship goes where the captain orders.  She may be in charge of the ship, but I’m the one who makes it go.”

Annie Edison Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, 1901

Annie Edison Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, circa 1901.

“Every time someone says something can’t be done someone else comes along and does it anyway.  Life is like that.  When I was a little girl I was told all kinds of things I could never do but went ahead and did them anyway.  It’s really only the small minds who accede to every little demand that comes their way; the smartest, the ones who drive the world forward, tell the demanders to take a hike.

The plunge over Niagara Falls was the most terrifying, exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.  They told me I was a fool to go over the falls in a barrel.  They said my little woman brain couldn’t possibly understand what I was doing.

Well maybe it’s a little woman brain, better suited for knitting and child-rearing than their advanced male brains, but I’m the one who did it when they were all too scared to even try.”

Here’s a tip for any writers out there, even aspiring ones.  Find a picture, any picture, and tell yourself a story.  It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t even have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It just has to be a story and you’re the one who has to tell it.

It Occurs To Me…

It occurred to me earlier today that this blog was ostensibly supposed to exist to showcase my writing (which I am doing, all evidence to the contrary!) and I have managed to write about politics, formatting, martial arts, book cover design, inspirations, and writing about writing.  With the exception of a few odds and ends, though, I haven’t actually written a story here in a fairly long time.

I’d like to say I’m going to do this regularly but, you know, temet nosce.  We’ll see what happens, I guess.  I enjoy writing, so I may as well do it every now and then.  So I don’t start writing and look down a month later to find a 40k word blog post, I’ll try to limit to about 1k words (beyond that people start wanting a pillow and a Kindle not a laptop and an office desk).  A while back I wrote a blog post on images I’ve found that have been inspirational or otherwise seem like they have a story behind them.

I’ve always liked this one and felt it had a story to tell.


To make things more interesting, I’m going to drop this one in, too and see if I can come up with a story about a face in the wall and mighty Cthulhu.


The rules are simple.  Make a cohesive story incorporating both images in approximately one thousand words.  The story has to be written in a single sitting.  There is no time limit.  I can’t guarantee it will be good, but it should be interesting.  I’ve got my tequila, a bag of mixed nuts, and Penny Dreadful is on.  Let the story begin…

I awake to the sticky smell of copper.  It’s like water up my nose and the oily feeling of cheap tequila rolling down my throat.

My head hurts and my eyes hurt and I know I’ve done it again.  This much copper in the air means I’ve gone and done it again and a lot of people have paid the price for my sins.  I know I should open my eyes and see what I’ve done but I’ve seen it all before.  I’ll open my eyes and the room will be filled with blood and parts of people and broken dishes and, frankly, the table is pretty comfortable.

This was a hipster coffee joint.  It was called something delightfully tacky and desperately throwback: Brewster’s Millions or something like that.  “Get it?  We brew coffee and have a million varieties,” the dude at the counter told me when I walked in.  I could tell already I wouldn’t like him, he was too hip for his own good, but if his place would serve me good coffee at 2am, I’d be happy to stare at his goatee and feauxhawk and not laugh at him.

I wonder what set it off this time?  The rage, I mean.

The coffee was good.  Not as spectacular as they promised but maybe my computer wasn’t cool enough; I was a lone guy with a plain laptop in an inland sea of glowing apples.  I chuckled at their dirty looks, snickered at their sniggering, and generally ignored them so I could focus on my night’s work.  If they knew what I was writing would their looks change?  Would my pedestrian laptop with the giant power brick suddenly be good enough or would the Cthulhu erotica erupting from my fingers send them screaming for the hills?

One of the charming things about this place is the music and the art.  The people almost ruined it with their horrid same difference-ness, but the music made it worthwhile.  The place was based on 1920s coffee shops; they played the music and displayed the art.  Now most of the art is spattered with blood and the record player (an actual record player!) is skipping.  Irvin Aaronson is continually asking me to misbehave.  A skip and he asks me again.  A skip and he asks me again.

I need to find that record player.

I open my eyes and find pretty much exactly what I thought I’d find: the place is a wreck and everyone’s dead.  I should be sad but, like I said, this isn’t exactly the first time this has happened.  I sigh and feel around the table fr my cup.  The last thing I remember was taking a sip so there must still be some there.  My hand brushes something that feels vaguely mug-like and my tired hands drag it toward me.  Gods above, the smell of chai hits me and I shove the coffee away.  Why is it so hard to serve a plain double espresso latte without cheapening it with that vile Indian nonsense?

I glance at my glowing laptop and read the text on the screen.  It still amazes me how much fun I can have writing what essentially amounts to Japanese tentacle porn but the addition of an ancient god from Lovecraft’s mythos makes it all that much more exciting.  The last line is the woman’s brain cracking after the dread Cthulhu is finished with her.  I smile.  Dark erotica is best erotica, if you know what I mean.

“Already did it, brother,” I say to Irvin.  He’s still carrying on about misbehaving.  My skull aches and my muscles protest but if experience has taught me anything it’s taught me I should get out of here before the fuzz shows up.  The room swirls a bit but my feet stay down and my head stays up and that’s good enough for me.  Ctrl key plus S equals save.  I don’t want to the few sentences I managed to write before the world came crashing down.

“Who was it this time?” I ask, looking around the room.  It’s a bunch of dead hipsters.  Who, in this place, could be important enough for my tender mercies?

The air swirls with energy and one of the corpses twitches.  A face, her face, appears on the wall.  I can’t say exactly who I work for or how I do what I do, but when they absolutely, positively need someone destroyed, I’m the one they call.  “This one was close to a formula that would let humans walk between the worlds.”

“Would that really be so bad?” I ask.  “They’re not that bad.”

“Would you want humans invading your space?” she asks.

“Not really, no,” I say.  “But surely I didn’t have to kill them all.”

“You will do as we say,” she says.  “Now get out before the authorities find you.  Don’t forget your agreement with House of Light.”

“How can I forget when you’ve got me tearing my way though every coffee shop in the country?”

Her face is already gone, fucked off back to the light realms, leaving me once again to deal with their mess.  I sigh and pack up my laptop.  They say the House of Darkness is a harsh mistress, but the House of Light is just as bad.  They’re both mental if you ask me.  They struggle eternally for control but neither side will ever win and people just get stuck in the crossfire.  All that wasted energies and all those crushed lives and the sides continue on their merry way stabbing each other in the back and slitting each other’s throats.

It’s sad, really.  I try to not get involved, but being of the hitmen drops me into the mess from time to time.  It sucks, but at least it pays well and gives me plenty of free time to write stories about beautiful women and ancient scaly gods.  It may not be a beautiful life, but it beats spending eight hours a day in fabric covered box.

So, there you go.  Just slightly over a thousand words, relatively coherent, and has a face in the wall and Cthulhu.

Allow me to tell you a story

Sit right back and allow your crazy uncle Eric to tell you tale.  It’s a tale woven of gods and monsters, Nazis and beasts, good guys who aren’t so good and bad guys who are really really bad.

You see, last year a group of people decided it would be a good idea to kill everyone in the United States Congress.  Naturally, this is a difficult proposition.  Their reasons for wanting to do this were varied but usually came down to, “I’m not happy with things the way are.”  In this way, the story parallels the real world.  The difference is, in the story, the characters actually manage to do it.  They cheat of course, but they manage to do it.

The story is Henchmen, that action-packed tale about revenge gone overboard.  But Henchmen was only part of the story.  Thing is, if there’s one god floating around, there’s bound to be others, too.  And maybe those other gods are less than thrilled that the first god was released.  Gods, after all, are not big on competition.

So that’s where Arise begins, with Eve promising to kill Steven for his part in releasing the God of Dreams.  Naturally, she doesn’t kill him and they pull everyone back together to stop the thing they released from taking over the world.

I won’t promise you “Citizen Kane,” but I will promise you action, adventure, a smidgen of romance, and some damned funny jokes.

After the Dreamer tore through the United States Congress the world didn’t stop spinning. The sun still shone, gravity still worked, and the country kept on going.

Releasing the God of Dreams, though, caused ripples in places that should never ripple and soon Steven, Eve, and the rest of the gang find themselves stuck between a terrifying god that wants them dead and a God of Dreams bent on expanding his domain. They’ll need all the help they can get to make it through, even if comes in the form of a man that Steven has personally shot twice, but who refuses to stay dead. Throw in the girl he can’t strop dreaming about, a mysterious site in Dulce, NM, and a group indestructible minions and Steven soon finds he’s got his hands far more full than he ever wanted.

Blood will spill. A god will fall. And a hero will arise.

Buy it now.  Only $2.99 on Amazon

Arise Cover.  © 2014, Eric Lahti

Arise Cover. © 2014, Eric Lahti