Fridays 5 with Dave Riese

Born in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied English Literature at Oxford University and travelled in Europe.

After graduating in 1968, I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board's kind invitation to join the army and travel to Vietnam. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base.

Discharged from the military in 1972, I was hired by Liberty Mutual Insurance to attend their three-month computer training course. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. An English degree can be a valuable asset!

After 35 years in information technology, I retired from Massachusetts Financial Services in the spring of 2012.

My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. Our daughter lives in Ireland with her husband. Our son and his wife are pediatricians working in Rhode Island. We have four grandchildren.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

Although I began writing in high school, I became serious at Bates College. I wrote a creative writing thesis in my senior year about my experiences travelling in Europe during my junior year studying at Oxford University.

Once I started working and raising a family. I lost a lot of my impetus to write. I took writing classes at Continuing Education centers and wrote short stories, but never sent them out to magazines. I eventually competed a novel after working on it off for 25 years! Again, I never sent it out.

When I decided to retire, I told myself I had to be more disciplined if I ever wanted to be a published author. I didn’t want to be on my deathbed thinking, “I could have been a published writer if I’d only worked at it with everything I had.”

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

The hardest part is the first draft. I’m always disappointed after writing new material. Only when I go over it 2 or 3 days later, do I begin to see the possibilities and realize that the writing isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was.  I love editing and cutting out all the junk that tries to hide in the corners of paragraphs and sentences. A book is always improved by being shorter.

The hardest part of being an author is the marketing process. So hard to determine the effectiveness of everything one does. I never feel I have done all I should.

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1950s Montreal. A young woman from a working class, Catholic-Jewish family blindly falls in love with a handsome, wealthy, Jewish orthodox man. The courtship is a romantic dream, but class, religion and sexual secrets test their love, leading to a shocking, life-changing revelation.

"A bittersweet story of love and loss set in one of the most colorful cities on the planet in its film-noirish heyday." - Peter Behrens, author of Law of Dreams and The O'Briens
3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

I felt disbelief, joy, relief, and optimism. The disbelief that I’d finally accomplished my live-long goal of publishing a novel; the joy of holding the first copy of the book in my hands; relief that all the hard work had not been in vain; and optimistic that this book would blow everyone’s socks off. I’m still working on that last emotion.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

Character is the most important ingredient for me in fiction. If the story or plot is lacking in some regard, I still enjoy reading it if the characters engage me. On the other hand, if the story is top notch, but the characters are unreal, the story usually fails for me.

When I sit down to write, I often imagine that I am going to visit friends (the characters in my novel) and spend the day with them. At first I will take charge of the visit to get things started, but eventually they exert their influence and I am content to become an observer. As I write, I watch them acting out the scene and listen to what they say. I often feel the ideas go from my subconscious directly onto the page. Things happen that I never imagined. The characters may begin to act out one of my own experiences. They say things I wish I had said at the time. While in this semi-unconscious zone, I let them do what they want and only rein them in when they risk going off the plot’s cliff.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

Generally I try to leave the house at 9:30 and go to a local coffee house or café. I will write the first draft of the next section of my novel for about 2 - 3 hours; then I will edit previously written material for 2 hours; then I check email and catch up on some marketing for 1 – 2 hours. By this time, my brain is exhausted and all I want to do is take a nap or read before dinner. Usually I watch the news or a movie at the end of the day.

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Billie-Bob's Birthday Part I

They had come to him two weeks earlier with their proposal, arriving as the last of the days light fled to the safety of the west. Three men dressed in an a way he’d never seen before.

They all wore heavy denim jeans that appeared hand made, and leather vests over plain cotton shirts. The vests were covered with odd symbols that had been hand worked into the aged leather. Two of them struck him as manager types used to giving orders, and being obeyed.

It was the third man who elicited a tiny spark of fear in him, a sensation he hadn’t felt in years. He stood behind the other two, his arms crossed over his chest, his eyes every watchful from beneath the shadowy brim of his hat. On his hip he carried a massive pistol whose sandalwood grips dwarfed his own hand.

Looking into his eyes he knew this man could kill him in an instant.

What they asked for had at first seemed odd. One did not normally approach a mercenary of his reputation with a request to keep the target alive. At the ripe old age of Eighteen he had earned  a standing as one of the most brutal guns for hire out there. He had only been fifteen when the dead rose up and the living fled as the society they all knew crumbled.

Overnight the world he’d known had ceased to exist. Cell phones quit working, the internet followed shortly thereafter, and it wasn’t long before the first long night came as the electric grid failed. All of the conveniences of modern life had fallen by the wayside as roving bands of heavily armed men and women took what they wanted, killing any who dared deny them. Not to mention the wandering groups of undead who sought sustenance from the living. It was like they had jumped from the frying pan into the fire, a phrase his father had always used.

He’d witnessed his mother and father’s death at the hands of one of these groups. On that night his alter ego had been born, and he stopped being Todd Franklin, who had a secret crush on his neighbors daughter who happened to be three years older than him, and hardly knew he was alive.

That night he became the Angel of Death.

For six months he tracked the group that had killed his parents with a single mindedness that bordered on obsession. Carving away at their numbers as opportunities presented themselves, until he cornered the last few members in a small town West of the capitol of a nation that lay in a smoldering ruins. That final confrontation had been brutal and bloody, with the flames of the fires he’d set consuming the entire town in which they had hidden.

He had walked away satisfied in a way he’d never known before. Over time he earned a reputation as someone not to be trifled with. Someone in fact that it would be best to avoid at all costs. Someone willing to trade any life for the right price. But even he had his limits. No kids, and especially no pregnant women. They were off limits to him. He’d kill anyone you asked for unless they were a part of those two groups.

Now he was being asked not to kill, but to protect another person from the brutality of a world that had been turned upon its ear. When he’d asked why, the only thing they would tell him was the child she bore would take part in saving untold worlds that had been thrown into turmoil. The idea had appealed to the fourteen year old kid still trapped within him, an innocent side that had once marveled at the worlds created in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. 

But what sealed the deal for him was their offer to let him escape this desolate place if he was successful. Yeah, they might be lying, but they struck him as not being from this world so he took their word for what they offered. Besides, if he hadn’t accepted, what if he was wrong?

There was always that chance.

They told him she would be by this way within the next few days, and he’d been keeping a cold camp for a week now as he waited for her. Several times roaming bands of Zombies had wandered by, and each time he had gone to ground until they passed, his weapons always at the ready in the event they wandered too close to him.

He had just laid down for a short nap when a shout from the roadway he had been watching drew him back to the edge of the forest. A group of people appeared from around the bend in the road. A number of them were heavily armed and a few appeared to be wounded.  He’d heard some distant shooting earlier that day but hadn’t gone to check on it, preferring to stay where he was so he wouldn’t miss his target, and his only chance to escape this dying place.

There were four girls tied together in the middle of the group and as he watched one of the men, really nothing more than a boy, walked over and cut the ropes binding one of them. The boy called over another, younger boy, and handed him his pistol, pointing towards the field that was between Todd and the group. She was pregnant, he noticed as he realized he was looking at the girl he was supposed to protect.

They were going to shoot her.

The thought shot through him and he moved from cover to get into a better position from which to save her. Crawling forward behind the rusted remnants of a tractor he heard the girl sobbing as the young boy led her by the rope tied around her neck. He felt his anger rising at the thought that another innocent was about to die.

“Quit your damned crying and get on your knees, bitch.” The boy said as Todd came around the side of the car in a crouch. The girl looked up and screamed as he came into view.

To be continued!

Follow Billie-Bobs adventures as he explores a post apocalyptic world with his three friends. 

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Read for free with Kindle Unlimited

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Available exclusively at Amazon 
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited

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When she was ten she made a promise to that which inhabits the winter storm.

Now she's twenty six and pregnant, and the White Walker has come to claim his due.

Monday Motivational: The myth of the insant bestsellers!

Is there really such a thing as an instant bestseller?

I doubt it. When you peel back the top layer of the past of anyone who has experienced bestsellerdom what you usually find is a life of persistent hard work, dedication, and of course any number of failures that they sprang back from.

It's not just restricted to the writing world.

In every endeavor from the business world, arts, and even sports, when we see someone who has achieved the pinnacle of success, what we are seeing is the end result of a life focused on greatness.

Understanding this, and believing that your success is out there, is the single driving force that keeps us focused on our goals. 

The ones you don't hear about are those who gave up before they achieved success. 

So just remember, as you plow ahead into an uncertain future. This could be your day. Or tomorrow, or the day after, but you'll never know unless you keep going. 

Fridays 5 with A.L. Butcher

A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys.  Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I’ve written poetry and short stories for years, but I would say ‘serious’ was about 5 or so years ago. The first novel came out of stories written for a game, plus something I’d been working on for a while. At first I wasn’t sure if I should publish – it’s a very daunting step. A few people had read the book, and past short stories and persuaded me to give it a shot. I wasn’t writing to make money, I was writing because I had a story which wanted to be told, and because I enjoyed creating worlds and characters.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

(A) The discipline! I have a full time job, a few health problems and so finding the time to sit and write when I’m not too tired, too stressed, or too lazy is hard for me. Often it will take me a while to get started and usually I have several things on the go. I actually find it easier to concentrate on many projects and tasks at once, focusing on only one thing I find difficult.

Also marketing. In many ways this is the most challenging part of publishing.  I don’t like pushy sales people and the line between acceptable promotion and spamming people is very thin. Many readers don’t like any author promotion and knowing when to mention one’s book is tricky.  It’s also hard finding marketing strategies that work – what works for John doesn’t work for James, and James has a strategy which Joanne finds bizarre. Writing the book is relatively easy – selling the damn thing – that’s hard.

Oh and formatting. I hate it. BORING!!!!

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Meet the Kitchen Imps - mischievous creatures who lurk behind the cupboard, and under the fridge.

Where do all the missing socks go? Find out with The Joy of Socks.

Learn the mysteries of the Secret Kitchen and gaze upon a rather familiar world with Free Will.

Dare you risk the king's wrath when you venture into the House of Treasure?

Short fantasy/fairy tales for readers of all ages. (Contains dark humour and some moderate mischief).

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

(A) Terrified. As I’ve said it’s quite daunting, and there is always the fear readers won’t like it or even find it. For many authors a book can take months or even years to write, rewrite and produce for publication and so there is a sense of relief, pride and achievement.

For me – there was a lot of joy and sadness. My mother was in the last stages of terminal cancer when I published but even so she was so proud of the achievement. I took the print version for her to see, and she had tears in her eyes. Even though she was so ill she told everyone about it – neighbours, friends, family members. For a while she had something else to think about and focus on. I was so pleased she was able to see it.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

Both. Although if I had to choose, I’d lean towards characters. Flat, one dimensional characters can kill a book. If a reader doesn’t give two hoots about the characters then the plot doesn’t matter. That reader is lost. Well-written characters can carry a dodgy story but not vice versa.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

Chaos usually. Get up, make breakfast, fed pets and man of the house and tidy kitchen a bit. Go to work. Spend day grumbling about work and wishing I had time to write down all the story ideas which poke me. Get home, walk dog, have dinner, then maybe write if I’m not too tired, or annoy Facebook if I am and then walk dog again, then bed. Repeat cycle.

So exciting…..

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Parasite: Excerpt

They have watched from the shadows since the dawn of time.
Jealous god who once ruled a young planet.
Seeking a return to their former glory.
Only one person stands in their way.

They've awakened from an ageless sleep.

Quietly taking over the world one household at a time. Moving in the dead of night, replacing those smiling neighbors across the street with an unholy union of man and beast. They've waited eons to reclaim this world as their own, and when the balance of power tilts in their favor,the feeding will begin. Until that time they make every effort to remain hidden from view, relying on man's ignorance of the true nature of the cosmos around them to mask their movements as their influence spreads.

One man has witnessed first hand the power these creatures' possess.

Sam Hardin defeated them in the past, or so he thought, for what should have died in the fire at his cabin didn't. After losing his wife and daughter to this creature's vengeance, Sam shoulders his role of executioner, and with his son at his side sets out to conduct a covert war against this growing menace.

If he fails mankind will awaken one morning to new master, for there is only room for one at the top of the food chain. 


Movement out of the corner of his eye drew his attention and he turned his head to see Dave emerging from the forest on his left. From his right came the sound of leaves stirring and he quickly swiveled his head to the right, spotting a kid he knew only by sight. It was one of Randy’s friends from school. Now there were three of them and he had as yet to see that strange animal.

“Could you run down to the basement and get me a jar of corn?” His mother said as she stepped out onto the porch. She stopped when she saw Randy at the edge of the woods.

“Are they your friends?” She said.

Anthony shook his head as he removed his hand from within his backpack and stood up. “They’re no friends of mine.”

His mother’s eyes hardened and she stepped off the porch. “You get out of here right now, you hear me?” There was anger in her voice, that motherly instinct kicking in to protect her young.

“I know who you are,” Anthony’s mom shouted, “I know your mother, what would she think of the way you’re acting?”

“Mom, don’t.” Anthony said as he stepped off the porch, panic washing through him as he imagined what would happen to her if Randy and his friends got a hold of her. He had the gun in his hand and he brought it up to aim it at Randy who took several steps back. “You don’t understand.” He said.

“I understand what’s happening here.” She said, glancing back at him, her eyes widening in fear at the gun in his hand. “Why do you have that? Where did you get it? Who gave it to you?”

“Please, mom, go back inside, you think you know what’s going on but you really don’t.” Anthony settled into his shooters stance.

“What in the hell is happening to you? You put that gun away, right now. Do you hear me? I’m your mother and I’m telling you to put that gun away right now.”

“I can’t.” Anthony said.

She reached for the pistol and Anthony sidestepped her. “Give it to me right now.”

“No,” Anthony shouted, “go back inside, now, you don’t know what’s going on.”

“I’m calling your father,” she said as she turned and marched back into the house.

Anthony retreated to the porch, never taking his eyes off of Randy who watched him silently. Inside he heard his mother talking to his father on the phone, her voice crackling with emotion, rising and falling in response to his father’s unheard comments.

“Where did he get the gun?”

Randy stepped away from the forest and started across the back yard towards Anthony who stood up and brandished his weapon.

“No I am not calling the police on my son.” His mother said inside as he stepped off the porch and brought up the pistol to aim at Randy.

“Stay away from me.” Anthony shouted as he settled into a shooters stance and aimed down the barrel.

Randy smiled and in that lopsided grin Anthony saw his own demise. They would never stop until he was dead and buried along with anyone else who got in the way. Including his mother and father. He had to stop it here, now, and with the decision made he drew a bead on Randy’s forehead. It didn’t matter what happened to him anymore, as long as his mom and dad were safe he would be happy.

With the decision made he found his nerves settling down as a cold, emotionless, calm overcame him. Gently he caressed the trigger, taking up the slack, and gave it a gentle squeeze. He knew what to expect this time and rode out the recoil as the forty five-caliber slug crossed the distance between them almost instantly. Randy’s head whipped back as a bloody third eye miraculously appeared on his forehead.

Anthony was only dimly aware of his mother screaming on the telephone as the sound of the shot faded into the distance like thunder. Randy dropped lifelessly to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut unexpectedly.

As he lowered the pistol, returning to level from the recoil, Anthony swung the muzzle around until it was pointing at Dave. Without thought he squeezed the trigger again, the bridge of Dave’s nose exploding in a spray of blood, flesh, and bone as the blunt nosed round plowed into his brain. Like Randy Dave dropped to the ground where he remained motionless.

His mother was screaming from inside the house as Anthony spun around to confront the last of his would be tormentors. But he had vanished into the gloomy depths of the forest.

Then it came to him, his emotions flooding his body and he dropped to his knees and vomited as the sound of a distant siren warbled in and out of focus. They were coming for him.

End Excerpt 

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Writers Regret.

Sixteen Years!

I've often wondered, usually late at night as I toss and turn while sleep eludes me, exactly where would I be today if I had spent the last sixteen years as focused on my writing as I am today.

I began writing earnestly in 1991, and over the course of the first five years of my writing life I amassed drawers of rejections as I followed the time honored route of submitting then moving on to the next story. In that time I managed to create about fifty short stories all in various stages of completion. I had about twenty that were making the rounds at any one time. If one were to have gone through the steadily growing pile of rejections they would have discovered a writer slowly honing his craft as form rejection letters gave way to personal notes from editors.

By 97 I had one novel ready for submission, with four others in draft stage, and began the long drawn out process of finding a publisher for my manuscript. I sparked the interest of a junior editor at Del-Rey books, a  division of Random House, who requested the first three chapters that I happily sent out the following day.

After a year and a half, that's right, eighteen months later I received a rejection along with my first three chapters.

By then I was closing in on my fortieth birthday. I lost my father when he was forty seven, I was eighteen when he died, and from that point on a countdown was initiated in my sub-conscious. While growing up I was always told that I looked and acted just like my Dad. So was it any wonder that on occasion I would be struck by the realization that I might never see fifty.

Looking back now, after having reached fifty seven and still counting, I can laugh at myself, but at the time it was serious business. Based on how long it took Random House to respond to my submission, and with an understanding of how the process worked, I might never see my work in print.

I believe it was this fear that drove me to be more open to self publishing when in 1999 I discovered a small start up called iUniverse. Get your book published for only $99.00. Before then the only way to see a print copy of your book was to have a publisher, or purchase an entire print run. With little time to spare, remember I'm now over forty, and without enough savings or room to store a print run I signed up.

It was a learning experience, and let's leave it at that. I will say I believe I made every mistake possible while publishing that book.

 A year later, in 2001, it was all gone. Everything was lost in a computer malfunction that fried my hard drive. Seven novels in various stages of completion, eight screenplays, and an untold number of short stories. Ten years of blood sweat and tears gone in the twinkling of an eye.

I gave up, yes I surrendered!

I got a better job, bought a house, and tried to live like a normal person. But late at night, as I tried to sleep while the world was quiet around me, I'd often wonder if I had given up too easily.

In 2008 I hit the big 50, I had outlived that sub-conscious countdown. The housing bubble burst and suddenly I found myself in the unemployment line. I've always lived in an area with high unemployment, by choice, it's where my roots are, so it's really my fault I was unable to find permanent work for nearly two years.

In the time I was off I began writing again, building upon the foundation that had been laid in the early nineties. By the end of 2011 I had rewritten my first book and released it through Amazon. At the present time I have5 novels, 2 novellas, and a short story collection available with a whole lot more to come.

The two biggest regrets that haunt me to this day are.

#1: Not getting the schooling I needed when I first started out. I believe a creative writing course would have helped me solidify the path I'd chosen, and built a strong foundation upon which to build my writing career

#2: Not getting right back into it after I lost all of my work. Yes it would have been hard at first, but I would have gotten through it. This is also my biggest regret. Where would I be now if I'd been as focused on my writing as I am now?

So when you get that rejection from the publisher you'd hoped would fall in love with your work, always remember, you're not alone. All of us are following the same path you're on.

What are your regrets?

What bad writing decisions keep you up at night?

And how did you overcome them?

All Roads Lead to Terror Giveaway: Second Chance Weekend

This is your second chance weekend to enter to win this one of a kind candy jar.

The image is of one jar from 3 different angles as the design wraps halfway around.
I do sandblasting on glass as a hobby and created this myself.
Vector art courtesy of Designed by Freepik
All you have to do is download a free copy of All Roads Lead To Terror and leave a verified purchase review on before midnight on August 20, 2016,and you will be entered into a drawing for this one of a kind candy jar that will take place on August 21, 2016.

Click on cover to grab your free copy today!
Sales ends Midnight July 17, 2016

As an added bonus everyone in the continental United States who leaves a review for All Roads Lead to Terror, will also receive a personally autographed bookmark absolutely free.

It costs absolutely nothing to enter but a bit of your time. Reviews are important for authors for two reasons. It gives potential readers an opportunity to see what others think of the work. It also helps in ranking with the Amazon algorithms.

Thanks for you help.

How to enter:

Download a free copy of All Roads Lead To Terror this weekend. The price goes back up midnight Sunday. Read and enjoy the adventures of Meat, Window, Einstein, and Billie-Bob as they explore a post apocalyptic world. Leave your honest review on before August 20, 2016, and send an email containing the link to your review to and you’re entered.

Good Luck!

Fridays 5 with Sandra Jackson

Sandra J. Jackson resides in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two young adult children. Growing up she was always defined as having a “wild imagination” or having her “head in the clouds”. Creativity has always been a part of her life. And while Sandra shared paintings and crafts for others to enjoy, she kept writing to herself and the telling of stories for her children when they were younger. 

As her children grew, Sandra began writing more seriously. She has several novels in various stages of completion and has had numerous articles for her son’s hockey team published in the local newspaper. She looks forward to continuing her journey as a writer. Promised Soul is her first completed work and first published novel.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I started writing in 2005, but I got serious in 2010 when I finally decided to finish a story I'd started.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) The hardest part for me is the marketing. I used to think it was editing but that is a piece of cake compared to marketing. I should also say waiting for reviews.

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Just as Krista’s summer plans are finalized, she is suddenly plagued by strange dreams and intense feelings of déjà vu. Feeling as though she’s losing her mind, she visits a psychic medium, only to feel more confused. When Krista arrives in England, her dreams persist, and she finds herself at the doorstep of another psychic; she needs clarity. Finally, the words she was afraid to say out loud, are spoken. Now Krista has to figure out what it all means.

Promised Soul is the story of the past, the present, and the future of two souls that have been bound together by eternal and transcending love.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) I was thrilled. By the time I ordered my first box of books for a signing, I thought I'd gotten used to the feeling. Then when I opened the box and saw my book for the first time I actually clapped my hands and bounced up and down like a little kid. And yes, there were tears.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) That's a tough one because I think they are equally important. You can have great characters but if the story is weak I think they will flounder. If the characters are weak and the story is great, readers may not care about the characters.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  Since I do work outside of the home (full time in the summer) my "writing day" doesn't really start until after supper, although I do check my social media sites, web, and e-mail periodically throughout the day. As much as I wish I could say I write every day, I don't. It's more like every other day and it's not always on a story. I have two blogs that I also work on, one on my website and one on Wordpress. When I am writing a story I am also usually editing another that I have just finished. It's a pretty busy day, but I also try and spend time with family and friends, and of course my fur babies (a dog and a cat). I have to say, I love every moment I spend on my writing.

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Twitter handle: @sjjacksonauthor

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Windows Birthday: Part III

Artwork by James Skiles

Windows Birthday Part III

Joe knelt at the side of the small grave and wept for the loss of his unborn son’s life. They knew it had been a risk when Darlene became pregnant. It was not the time or place for such an event. But they had hoped everything would work out all right, and had taken every precaution possible, but some things weren’t meant to be.

Before the dead walked Joe had been leading an average life with his wife in the suburbs outside of Washington D.C. An analyst for the government he’d seen a problem looming on the horizon and had taken the necessary steps to protect himself and his family. Purchasing several secluded acres along the edge of a small lake in the mountains of West Virginia. He knew it wouldn’t be long before the end came, and when it did, he was as surprised as everyone else.

At the time Zombie fiction had become quite popular, with several highly rated television shows appearing weekly. No one cold have predicted that life would imitate art when the earth passed through the tail of a comet and the recently deceased were reanimated by an extraterrestrial virus.

With his wife Darlene, Joe fled into the mountains as society collapsed and the cities became free fire zones as survivors battled for what supplies remained, and the dead filled the streets in their endless search for sustenance. 

As he stood up he became aware of the sound of a horse approaching and through the trees to his left a rider appeared, slumped over his saddle, blood staining his right pants leg. His left arm was wrapped around a small bundle and from the shadowy depths Joe heard a baby crying.

Darlene was drawn from the depths of the cabin, her features pale and drained, and with Joe at her side together they approached the wounded rider.

“Where did he come from?” Darlene said.

“I don’t know,” Joe answered as he surveyed the man’s strange dress. His jeans were stiff, dark blue, stuffed into well worn boots that came up to mid calf. He wore a leather vest covered with odd patterns, swirls and vortexes that made little sense. 

“Protect the child,” the man whispered as the horse stopped, rolling its eyes as it lolled its head back and forth, nibbling as its bit. The rider slid from the saddle, and Joe caught him before he hit the ground. Darlene stepped in to ease the swaddled baby from his arm.

She held the bundle close to her chest, tears welling up in her eyes as she cradled the child, looking from Joe to the stranger with an expression of maternal need.

Joe pulled back the vest the stranger wore, exposing the wound in his shoulder as the stranger stirred. His eyes snapped open, and Joe was mesmerized by the brilliant green of his gaze.

“Where’s the boy?” the stranger said as he struggled to push himself to his feet.

“He’s safe,” Joe said as he stepped back and the stranger towered over him. He noted the leather gun belt slung low around the strangers waist, the odd designs worked into the leather, the hoops filled with massive 44 caliber rounds, their blunt heads pointed at the ground. The Sandalwood butt of a pistol protruded from the leather holster.

Gunslinger, the thought filled Joe's mind.

The stranger looked from Joe to Darlene, and back again, his gaze pinning Joe to his spot.

“I’m Joe, this is my wife, Darlene,” Joe said as he extended his hand and nodded to his wife at his side.

The stranger glanced at Joe’s hand, ignoring it as his gaze drifted to the tiny cross at the head of the small grave, then back to Darlene.

“The future of all worlds depends on his survival,” he said, his gaze dropping to the bundle in her arms as the sound of other horses approaching came from the forest that had birthed the stranger.

Faster than Joe's eye could follow, the stranger drew his revolver and spun around to confront the new arrivals. So fast it was as if his pistol had magically appeared in his massive hand. Before either of them could react, four men emerged from the forest and the stranger opened fire, his pistol speaking in a deadly voice, as the first two men met their end before they even recognized the threat.

The other two ducked into cover and returned fire as Joe and Darlene dropped to the ground, Darlene held the small bundle close to her body as rounds whizzed through the air above them. 

Joe looked up to find the gunslinger still on his feet, wading into the fight, his gun singing a song of death as bullets filled the air around them like angry bees.

As suddenly as it had begun the fight was over, the last remnants of gunfire fading into the mountains like distant thunder. Joe pushed himself to his feet and crossed to the stranger who stood weaving back and forth. The four intruders dead in the dust before him.

The stranger, gunslinger, unbuckled his belt and passed the holster to Joe, nodding towards the baby in Darlene’s arms.
“It is his birthright,” he said
Without another word he dropped to his knees and fell face first to the ground.

The End 

Follow Windows adventures as he explores a post apocalyptic world with his three friends. 

Click on the cover for more info or to order!

Available exclusively at Amazon 
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited

Click on the cover for more info or to order!

Available exclusively at Amazon 
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited

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I promise not to share your email address with anyone else, and will only send you an email for important updates and new releases as they become available. I'll even throw in a free book just for signing up.

The one trait every successful writer must have.

If you're a working writer, by which I mean a writer who creates and submits their finished work on a regular basis, then you're familiar with rejections from publishers and or editors. Even if we self publish, no sales is the same as a rejection, only now it's readers rejecting our work.

Rejection from readers or publishers could be viewed as the wind that separates the wheat from the chaff. For the working writer rejection is just another part of living the writer's life.

We've read about the rejections famous writers endured when they were first starting out.

Frank Herbert's Dune was rejected 22 times.

James Patterson's first book was rejected 31 times.

After years of rejection The Chronicles of Narnia are finally published.

What we don't read about are the writers who gave up after being rejected. Those nameless people who finally surrendered and focused their energies on pursuits other than writing.

What is the one trait Frank Herbert, James Patterson, C.S. Lewis and a host of other best selling authors all possess?


It was persistence that drove Frank Herbert to submit Dune the 23rd time. Had he given up after 22 rejections, or even 10 for that matter, the world would never have known about sand worms, spice, and the house Atreides.

It was persistence that drove Stephen King to write another book after Random House rejected The Long Walk. And look where that got him.

It was persistence that pushed Louis L'Amour (one of my favorite writers) to keep trying even after he was rejected 200 times. Finally Bantam decided to take a chance on him.

It is this same persistence that daily pushes thousands of other writers we've never heard of to send it out one more time, to write that other book, or to keep putting them out there. It is this same persistence that will be looked upon as a necessary trait when they do find their success and look back at their careers. They will see those defining moments when it could have gone differently had they not been persistent.

Are you persistent?

Reprisal Sale

This weekend my novella Reprisal: Vengeance knows no boundary, will be marked down to just $0.99.


She had a look that immediately put anyone she met at ease. Small of stature, with grandmotherly eyes, by the time her victims discovered the evil lurking behind that innocent facade, it was too late.

Diagnosed at an early age with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which is more commonly known as a split personality, Margaret could honestly say she had never been alone a single day of her life. Like two peas in a pod she shared her physical self with the other half of her divided psyche, a separate personality known as Candice.

Together they served as an example of the divided psyche of man, with Candice representing that dark half, the one who has the guts to do what we can only wish we could. They are the two faces of the same coin, the Ying and the Yang, the good and the bad all rolled into one. Where Margaret was the picture of innocence, Candice carried the face of unmitigated evil, and everywhere they go she leaves a bloody trail of death and despair in her wake.

Though it was Margaret who physically killed the handyman who raped her when she was just seventeen, her alter ego was responsible for the act. Now, twenty five years after that day, she is longer considered a threat. Transferred to a minimum security facility  her new doctor changes the medication that has kept her dark half suppressed, unleashing Candice upon an unsuspecting world.

In a desperate bid to reclaim her life Margaret, driven by Candice, escapes with one simple plan. Return home, take the place of her twin sister, and live out the rest of her life in relative peace. But even the best laid plans had their flaws, at home the vengeful ghosts of the past have waited patiently for her return, and not even Candice can escape one simple truth.

The dead always got their revenge.


Roxanne, Roxie to the few remaining friends she had left, crossed the living room to the side window. She had been in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee when she heard a car pull into the drive way. At the window she pulled back a small corner of the curtain, and peered out at the station wagon that sat in her driveway.

Now who in the hell would be coming to see her this hour of the morning? She wondered as she let the curtain drop back into place, and crossed to the front door.

With her robe held tightly about her, she cautiously moved down the front porch steps. Though she would still be considered young at sixty-seven, it was never a good idea to take a chance with a broken bone. Her friend Phyllis had gone into the hospital six months earlier with a fractured hip, and never came out. She’d attended her funeral just last month. An infection had set in, which was no wonder with all the germs that lived in any hospital where sick people were treated. The infection had become pneumonia that quickly filled poor Phyllis’ lungs with fluid. From there it had been a quick skip and a hop to the grave.

No, she would take it easy, and keep herself out of the hospital as long as she could.

Halfway down the sidewalk to the car, she spotted movement in the driver’s seat, and stopped. Suddenly she was filled with the dread certainty that if she got any closer she’d be joining poor Phyllis a lot sooner than she had planned. In the still morning a bird called out from her left, and Roxie nearly jumped. The motor of the car ticked steadily as it cooled with the measured clicks of a clock counting down the seconds.

My last seconds, she thought with a shudder.   

Get hold of yourself girl, it’s just a car.

The driver’s door popped open, and Roxie took a step back. Margaret emerged from inside, and Roxie felt a moment of relief that evaporated when Margaret looked her in the eye.

There’s something wrong with that woman, she thought as Margaret’s gaze filled her with terror. It was no one thing she could put her finger on, no distinctive trait that stuck out, just an overwhelming sensation that there was something terribly wrong here. And she realized too, not for the first time, just how isolated she was at the end of the lane. 

End Excerpt

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Fridays 5 with Renee Lake

I am a plus size woman from Utah who loves bats, cats, Halloween, things that go bump in the night, mythology and reading. I am a mother, a wife, a pagan and very liberal. I love reading and writing above all things.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) About five years ago

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.)  Getting published and having people actually read your books.

Click on the cover for more info or to order!

Synopsis: Princess Cneajna of Transylvania didn’t expect to be brought back from death’s door by an ancient Pagan Goddess. She certainly never asked to be made into an immortal witch. All she wanted was to live out her life the wife of Vlad the Impaler and mother of his two sons. However, now she has a new life, and with it comes the impossible task of breaking a centuries old curse placed on the women of her family. A curse that drives each one insane. To make matters even more complicated this is a family she didn’t even know she was related to: The Bathory’s.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Success, like "Finally! I finished a book, I wrote a whole book!" Oh, and tired.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Oooh, both are SO important, but character. I find that if you write a likeable enough, interesting enough character and the plot line lacks a bit the reader will still enjoy being with that character.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  Wake up, take care of my son, write, watch Dr Who, clean. Three days a week I go to work, but the rest I do homework with two little girls, make dinner and spend the evening writing or with my husband. Sometimes there is pie or vodka....I like those times.

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Windows Birth Part II

Weaving back and forth William clung to the side of the horse, riding on its flank as he had been taught when he was a child, so as not to be knocked from his saddle by low hanging branches. The ground sloped down towards the sound of rushing water, the pounding hooves of his pursuers thundering through the forest behind him. They would make good time racing across the field, but once they reached the forest their progress would be slowed as his had been.

Allowing his horse to pick its own way down the hill that was growing steadily steeper, he glanced back over his shoulder to find two of his pursuers already within sight.  He recognized the one on the left, that wide brim hat a dead giveaway for the one known as Preacher. It was a nickname he’d earned because he always allowed those he hunted down an opportunity to make peace with the god of their choice before he took them out. If they had called on the Preacher, that meant they were dead serious about ending this child’s life.

But why. It was a question he’d been asking himself ever since he’d learned of his lady’s pregnancy and the resulting flight from the royal court. What did this child represent? What was his purpose? How could his survival threaten a dynasty that had outlasted the very reign of man?

Somewhere within those endlessly circling questions that spun about like a whirlpool that consumed all it came into contact with, the truth lay.

As they neared the bottom of the hill, his pursuers matching him step for step he scanned the bank of a narrow river, looking for a place to cross. He would be vulnerable then, his back to those who would run him down to the ground, he knew he couldn’t make it easy for them.

Coming out of the tree line he laid into his horses flanks with the whip, driving the beast forward at an insane run, the horse struggled at first, its massive lungs pumping the air in and out as it ran headlong along the bank of the river. Behind him he heard his pursuers and chanced to take a look back. When he did his horse hit a hole with one hoof, screaming in surprised agony as the bone snapped and his flight was brought to a jarring stop.

William was thrown from his mount, the baby clutched close to his chest as he curled his body around the child to protect it as they slammed into the ground. They rolled through the grass, small rocks and limbs dinging his back, and arms, and legs. Stars exploded behind his closed eyelids as he hit his head on a larger stone, and he struggled to remain conscious as they rolled to a stop.

Getting to his knees he gently laid the child in a shallow depression. The baby watched him with an interest that belied his age. Strangely enough the child had not once cried out during their flight, as if it were instinctively aware that it must remain silent if it wished to live.

Shaking off the effects of his fall he pulled himself to his feet and turned to face his pursuers as only a true gunslinger could. His hand loose above the sandalwood butt of his revolver protruding from the holster on his hip, he pulled the brim of his hat down to shade his eyes as he squared his shoulders to meet their attack.

They came around the bend in the river, riding low against the backs of their mounts, digging their spurs into the bloodied flanks of their massive steeds.

Faster than the naked eye could follow he slid his revolver from its holster, bringing the barrel up as he focused on the point he wanted the round to strike, thumbing back the hammer, and squeezing the trigger all in one fluid movement.

The .44 caliber slug covered the dwindling distance between him and the approaching riders almost instantly. Slamming into the crown of the hat of the rider beside Preacher, shattering bone on impact, jelling the brain, and killing the man instantly. His lifeless body, no longer able to hang onto the reins, was thrown from the saddle, coming to rest in a shattered heap that would become his final resting place.

The man known as Preacher drew his mount up short, stopping twenty yards away, and slid down from the saddle. With measured steps he moved away from his mount, never taking his eyes off William who tracked his every move.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Preacher said, “give me the child, let me return him to his rightful place.”

“The child has found his rightful place,” William said as he returned his revolver to its home.

Preacher shook his head slowly from side to side as he spread out his arms and turned to look at the wilderness that surrounded them. “You call this backwards world his rightful place, he belongs in the royal court, not out here among the savages.”

“You ask me to return this innocent child to die?” 

“That’s not your decision to make. Ours is but to follow orders, do as we’re told, fulfill the obligations of our forefathers.”

“What about protecting the innocent? Isn’t that what our forefathers really wanted? When did we become servants to the royal court?”

Preacher shrugged, dipping his head to the left, and as he did he made his play but William had seen it coming. Two shots rang out as one, their deadly voices rolling away like distant thunder as both men stood facing one another.

Preacher looked down at his chest, at the hole that had suddenly appeared there, dark red blood pumping from the wound to stain his vest. He could no longer hold his pistol steady and he let his hand drop to his side as he fell first to his knees, then onto his face.

William staggered back, Preachers slug having slammed into his shoulder, and he felt the sickening way his arm hung lifelessly from his side. Blood stained his shirt, trickling down beneath his vest. He had to find a place to hole up soon. A cry from the horse reminded him of its agony and he quickly dispatched it to ease its pain.

Gathering up the reins for Preachers horse he retrieved the child and painfully climbed into the saddle, turning towards the stream he urged his mount across. He had reached the other side of the stream by the time the rest of his pursuers rounded the bend. The sight of Preachers dead body would stop them for a moment, but it would also drive them to double their efforts to bring him down and return the child to the royal court.

First blood had been drawn and it had become a feud

As his pursuers gathered around the two bodies William faded into the tree line and began making his way up the steep incline. He had to find a place soon to take care of his wounded shoulder if he hoped to survive.

To be continued!

Follow Windows adventures as he explores a post apocalyptic world with his three friends. 

Available exclusively at Amazon 
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited


Available exclusively at Amazon 
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited

Don't forget to sign up to be updated and notified of my new releases when they become available. 
I promise not to share your email address with anyone else, and will only send you an email for important updates and new releases as they become available. I'll even throw in a free book just for signing up.

Happy Fourth of July

For those among my readers who celebrate this day, have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Fridays 5 with B.C. Kowalski

B.C. Kowalski is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in Wisconsin. His published work includes the Robot Awareness series and the short story The Sand Runner, just released. He is an award-winning journalist in his day job and rock climbs, trains in martial arts and takes photos. His work combines science fiction with his experience in journalism, sports and sports writing and all the characters he's met along the way.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.)  It started with Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I hadn't written since I was a teenager. I think what the book accomplished was teaching me that it's OK to write something bad. You can always make it better later. It was a weight off my shoulders, and allowed me to get back into writing. Since then I started writing for my school paper as a non-trad, then started part-time as a sports writer. I graduated college and got my first journalism job. But since getting back to writing I've always written fiction too, in secret. Then I started talking about it. Then I learned about indie publishing, and realized I could just publish this stuff myself and keep writing. I've been doing that ever since.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.)  Honestly, it's not the writing (other than carving out time), it's everything after. I'm sort of in a catch up mode - I'm publishing stories I wrote a couple of years ago - no matter how much editing I do I can never get those stories up to my current ability. I'm a better writer than I was three years ago, so part of you wants to say "I'm proud of what you're reading now but I'm writing much better stuff now!" Cultivating a fan base is challenging too. It's small but the people who do read it seem to like it. It's getting your work out there in the first place that's hard; making yourself stand out in a huge crowd of indie authors. The marketing takes more work than the writing! (Which is why I haven't done a ton of it - I'm primarily working on building my body of work right now...)

Click on cover for more info or to order!

Synopsis: On the distant planet of Baando, a war rages between the United Alliance and the Veraqui, a ruthless race with a supreme hatred for humans, for the strategic stronghold in the war. Because of technology dampening fields, war is a primitive affair on Baando — no guns, no lasers, no advanced communication. Gina is a member of the UA’s elite Sand Runner program - a group of ultra-running scouts who can traverse the sands of Baando to check on enemy locations and deliver messages in a world that’s devoid of most technology. When Gina discovers a group of Veraqui has a prototype that could dissipate the dampening fields, giving the Veraqui a huge advantage, she’ll need to muster all of her training to deliver that crucial information to her superiors without getting caught by the Veraqui - a fate worse than mere death.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  I'm a reporter and I've had new stories run in the USA Today, but selling a small number of copies of Robot Awareness, Part I was still one of the best feelings. Seeing the cover for the first time, making my first sales and getting that one review where the person really gets what I was trying to do - there's nothing that compares to those experiences. But it's mixed; it's a learning process. I thought all my friends would go out and buy my first book. Some did, but not most. But that's not who you're selling to, and you have to realize that. Getting a bad or mediocre review (only one three star so far, phew) can be tough.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.)  For me, it's always been about the characters. In my work, they dictate the story. It probably sounds silly, but I've started writing a section and been completely surprised by how it's gone. They go in a completely different direction than I expected. I used to read interviews with authors I liked and they would write about how their characters had minds of their own and weren't completely under the author's control. I always thought that was silly but that's exactly how it is for me now. To me that's the fun of writing. And the fun of reading. Dickens was the master of character, and definitely an influence.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  I'm lucky enough to be able to write for my day job. You very quickly get out of some very bad writing habits when you have editors . As a reporter covering government, then cops and courts, I've had the opportunity to meet plenty of people who've inspired plenty of characters over the years. The downside is that it can be tough to write all day, then go home and write some more. But since I've joined a weekly, it's a more relaxed schedule and I've found my writing production outside my day job has improved. Through my job I meet a variety of people, young, old, rich, poor, homeless, CEOs. People who are following their dreams, and people who have lost all hope. And they all influence my work. All of them.