Posted: April 7, 2015 in General

Out of breath. How far have I run? For how long? The subway. It’s difficult to focus but I manage  to buy a ticket and board. I sit far from the crowd, least monsters lurk among them. Closing my eyes, I lean back and try to relax, though the buzz humming through my nerves taunts me with random muscle twitches. I have to make sense of this but it’s hard to hold onto anything. My mind is a roiling mess of thoughts.

Concentrate. Is this crazy? Insanity? The drugs. The lab.


A voice, from the depths of my mind. “Shut up,” I say.

Don’t you see the mistakes we made as children, being cruel without knowing another’s hurt? Now I’m you and you are someone else. I don’t dare hit you with the stick of his prejudice. It leaves splinters in the subconscious and we pass them through our children’s games of chase.

Extroverted introspection, the voice whispers, looks so serene without the rapier wit of pen-in-hand cartoonists.

“I don’t want to hear you.”

I open my eyes, glance at the other passengers. They’re staring, muttering low and muffled. It’s about me, I’m sure. They know what I’m thinking. They can’t possibly, can they? No. Quick, think of something else.

“It’s worse than that.” The other passengers speak in unison, in one clear voice. The voice from my head. They lean forward, eyes glazed, lost, but still they see me. I fall back, eyes wide and body tense. No.

“We hear you, too. Our mind’s eye stares into the cold heart of your character. You can’t be quiet in the face of her hostility. She put the words on the wall of your corner, a song of uncertainty. And there she waits for you.”

I slam my eyes closed as the train slows, stops. I’m lunging through the door before it even fully opens. The other passengers stand, grasping for me, laughing at me. But I’ve bolted, well beyond their reach.

Later. I look around, realize I don’t remember wandering. I can’t recall anything since the train. Did that really happen? Where’s home? Ahead of me lovers kiss in the golden halo of a streetlamp. My mind attempts to focus but their bodies seem so unnatural. I move into the shadows and watch.

An arm wraps around a waist, a malevolent tendril fusing with flesh. A kiss, all-consuming with hungry lust. Chests heave in an archaic, synchronous rhythm, and where they touch, pseudopods grope knowingly, tangling. Feet shuffle closer, leaving legs to twist and entwine, like lovelorn serpents. Where once there had been two now stands only one, a misshapen mash-up of flesh, bone, and bodily fluids, lost in its primal desires. An eye swivels, stares, and winks.

I blink and shake my head, trying to dislodge the images nesting there. I step from the shadows and continue onward, closer to insanity with every step. Pulling at my hair and punching at my head it dawns on me, I’m already there.

No, you have miles to go before you weep.

The voice has been quiet. I welcome the return. The company will do me good. Here’s someone who has to know what it’s like to be lost in a maze of work and too many adults. Am I right? The voice goes silent. Contemplative?

Your mind is led by your outlook, so weird, and I’m wowed at what I get from your thoughts. Look at it from all angles, turn it again. Stop. There’s the proper perspective. Can you see it?

I look. Things are familiar, they tug at me, pull me along as first a mailbox beckons, and then a set of steps. An entire street corner calls out to me and I move that direction. I turn at the corner and there’s my building, three stories of calm and comfort. My body needs no instruction. Serenity summons and I am merely an automaton riding the rails. Up the steps and through the doors, and I find myself in checkered chaos.

Black and white tiles, large as welcome mats, fight for dominance of the hallway. Welcome mats? Anything but. A warzone, a battlefield in two dimensions. Upstairs, rest awaits. I lunge forward, landing on the nearest white square. I’ll stick to the white. The black squares look incomprehensibly deep. Another leap.

I make my way down the hall, white square to white square, praying the next doesn’t move from under me. The impenetrable darkness below would swallow me, seep into my pores, drag me–

Here’s my door. I struggle with the keys, trying one then the next, searching for the pattern that penetrates the gaping maw of the lock. Finally, the pins find order, tumble over. The door opens with a sigh and I step inside.

Home at last. If insanity has truly come calling then nothing except comfort is necessary. Just as long as my mind doesn’t catch up with that last gasp of light and bad space. Time is nothing more than chit-chat kicked from my mind. At the couch I turn and fall. I do nothing but watch the ceiling sail away.

I can’t live in this world that doesn’t relish the beauty of the profound laziness of thinking. Amen to that.

A movement from the corner of my eye catches my attention, distracts me. I shift my eyes but nothing. Just the wall in front of me. Wait. The paneling wavers like the sinuous dance of heat on a summer day. The lines in the wood slither to a secret beat, seductive, bewitching. A hand, all lines and light, swirls forward. A finger curls, come to me, an invitation as old as time.

I roll from the couch, plant my feet and step to the wall. The hand moves. My gaze follows. But, that hand. I know it.

Yes. You do. The voice, now distinctly female.

The hand shoots outward, pushes my feet from under me. I fall. My arms instinctively go flailing in a weak attempt to grab hold of something. The impact I expect never happens. More hands, dry and jagged, grab and tug, leaving splinters with every touch. They hold me, draw me deeper, until, finally, darkness.

But it’s okay. It’s not like that, she says. It’s alright to be wrong.

Worlds of thought writhing in failed words.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on ye Olde blog. And I’m sure one, maybe two, of you have wondered what in the wide world of sports has kept me away. Well, honestly, a lot. But, mostly the launch of LARRIKINbooks, my small, independent publishing company.

LARRIKINbooks officially launched near the end of January. Our first release, Deviltry by S. E. Lehenbauer, is a novella-length mashup of wild western heroes and space opera tropes. It’s available at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Or, if you’re the type that loves a good deal then you can pick up a free copy at Story Cartel. All I ask in return is an honest review. Hit me up on twitter or send an email to Larrikinbooks at Gmail with your review addy and I’ll set you up with a digital copy of Bad Medicine, the second book of The Wanderlust Adventures, once it’s released.

While you’re at it, why not jump over to the LARRIKINbooks website and sign up for the monthly newsletter. Each issue will feature a book review, writing prompts for the Word Monkeys among you, and updates on coming releases. If you’re into science fiction, steampunk, weird westerns, and fantasy then you’re gonna love where LARRIKINbooks will take you.

Thanks for reading.

I’m Not the One

Posted: November 25, 2014 in General

So, I guess it starts now. No matter my opinion on the whole Ferguson tragedy, I’m a white man in America and tonight, more so than many years prior, I am the enemy.

I struggle day to day to pay my bills, to take care of my children, to keep a roof over what’s mine. My family is without Healthcare because to pay for it means getting a second job just to cover it. Nobody out there is handing me anything, except the wages I earn working an average of 55 hours a week. I wasn’t born into privilege but you’re damn right I’m busting my ass so my children’s children might be.

I’m not the enemy. Ignorance, intolerance, and the inability to speak freely to one another (not about one another), with an open mind and a willingness to truly hear, without anger or blame, there’s your enemy. As long as one heart holds hate, there will never be peace.

Meanwhile, I go to bed tonight knowing somewhere out there many people hate me though they don’t know me by any name but Devil.

Hi. My name is Michael. My friend’s call me Mike. What will you call me?

Wherein I Doff My Cap

Posted: September 12, 2014 in General

Labor day weekend I had the very surreal opportunity to sign a copy of Whiskey & Wheelguns: Foreshadows. Despite the fact my story within was mediocre at best Delilah S. Dawson was charitable enough to ask for a signature. My brain froze and I’m sure the look on my face could’ve easily ayed poster child for utter confusion. I think I mumbled a disjointed ‘Seriously?’ or maybe I laughed and said ‘That’s funny.’ Whatever I may have said, Mrs Dawson looked back at me, handed over book and pen, and said she wasn’t joking.

I took the pen, and then the book, opened it and stared blankly at the title page. I had no idea what to write. I could’ve simply signed my name but we’ve had a number of conversations over the past two years. She’s been a panelist at Crossroads Macon for the past two years and she sat on several panels over the weekend at DragonCon. While Servants of the Storm was barely an ARC, she was kind enough to allow me the joy of reading the book at Crossroads and a couple of signings.

As I held the pen in my hand and stared at the white space on the page I knew whatever I wrote alongside my name had to be meaningful to me. She might see the illegible scribblings of an hebetudinous earwig but for me, it would say much more. Finally, I wrote ‘Delilah, Thanks for being such a positive influence.’ What did I mean by that? At first I simply meant ‘Thank you’ for the panels and the Twitter posts. But, in hindsight, I feel it’s so much more than just that.

I’m an introvert by nature. It’s extremely hard for me to step forward and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Hell, I have difficulty managing small talk with anyone short of my oldest friends. It’s been brought to my attention that many, if not most, writers are introverts in one degree or another. Some are barely 1 on the Introversion Dial, while others crank that fucker to 11. Knowing this makes it easier. If you’re an introvert and I’m an introvert then maybe, just maybe, we’ll both forgive the other’s stilted conversation.

Yes, there is a point hiding here amongst the rambling. As I was saying, I thanked Mrs Dawson for her positive influence. She may not realize it but she’s done more for my introversion than my writing. She claims to be an introvert and it’s been a topic of conversation on Twitter on several occasions but I’ve had the opportunity to watch her speak and I can honestly say she’s a great orator, well spoken and precise. This, more than anything, has had profound impact on the business side of my writer’s life.

Thanks to Delilah S Dawson’s seemingly superhuman disregard for her introversion when it matters I’ve been struggling to do likewise. I’ve made contacts and connections that would not have been possible a mere two years ago. There’s a window in my wall and, occasionally, I can open it and chat with passers-by.

So, again, I say, “Thank you, Delilah.”

You really should be following her on Twitter @delilahsdawson or her blog, http://www.whimsydark.com

blackwhiteGage Malloy crosses the floor of The Foundry Bar to the open front door. The few people milling about on the streets outside pay him little attention. It’s still warm for December and they’ve got other places to be. There’s moisture in the air and clouds rolling in from the west promising an evening storm, and those people passing by, they can sense it coming; so best hurry before getting caught up in something unhealthy.

Standing there in the doorway Gage squints up at the afternoon sky. He can feel it too. An ominous tingle below the skin. But he’s not concerned. The bar is his, free and clear, always a haven from the raging storms.

“Hey, you think you could get me another drink?”

Gage glances back into the bar. It’s cool and dim inside. Not much to look at. The furniture has seen better days, but it’ll do until Gage can salvage better. The crowd’s light this afternoon and scattered around the place; A couple paired off back in the corner booth, quiet and keeping to themselves; A knot of teenagers throwing darts and being loud like teenagers tend to be; the barflies sit at the bar, empty stools between them, keeping what ails them personal and private.

“Today maybe?”

Then there’s Steve, The Foundry’s one true show-boat. Twenty-four years old and already half a step from the grave. If the alcohol don’t kill him one of his Tip’s will. Steve’s a Crown, and a dirty, two-timing one at that. Around Chalk Street word gets around a Crown is skimming or double dipping it’s not long before his whole outfit is wiped. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the weird western world of Whiskey & Wheelguns.

Forsyte sat in the driver’s seat of Hughes’ limousine gazing out at the rain-soaked streets of Rooks Port. He leaned back and listened to the rhythmic ping-ping of raindrops as they fell against the roof of the car, watched the water roll down the windshield like tears. He smiled.

Nearly an hour ago Hughes had ordered him to return to the manor with the limo. But Forsyte, whose name wasn’t really Alex Duffey, had prior orders that countermanded those issued by Hughes. So he’d waited until the limo had traveled three blocks and then he had made his move.

“Pull over, please,” Forsyte said. “I think I’m going to be ill.”

Forsyte had feigned sickliness for the past two years just for this moment. Troy, Hughes’ personal driver for the past five years, didn’t even hesitate. He directed the limousine to the curb and brought it to a stop. Huddled over, one arm across his stomach, Forsyte struggled with the door.

“I’ll get the door for you,” Troy said as he opened his own door and climbed from the driver’s seat.

Forsyte watched as Troy moved around the car. Then, the door opened and Forsyte stumbled out. Troy caught him under one arm and steadied him. Surreptitiously, Forsyte glanced around to be certain no one was out; the streets were deserted. He quickly took hold of Troy’s arm and pulled him roughly forward. Taken by surprise, Troy staggered, completely thrown off balance. Then Forsyte twisted Troy’s arm and spun him against the limo, the sudden impact forcing the air from his lungs. As Troy struggled to catch his breath, Forsyte pinned his arm behind him and slapped a cuff around his wrist. Then, in an instant, he had the other arm and cuffed that wrist as well.

Troy was still gasping for air as Forsyte yanked the chain between the cuffs with one hand and pulled backwards. His other hand firmly on the back of Troy’s head, Forsyte forced him over at the waist. Then, with a quick shove, sent him sprawling, face-first, into the passenger area of the limo. Forsyte climbed in behind him and pulled the door shut.

“Don’t worry. I’m not here for you,” Forsyte told Troy as he helped him to sit upright. “I just need a bit of information.”

Troy pulled away and moved across the seat to prop against the other door. He was still too disoriented to do any more than that. But, just in case Forsyte was reading the situation wrong, he drew a .45 from under his jacket, slid the safety off as he held it up for Troy’s benefit, then laid it across his lap. Troy’s eyes went wide; his body tensed as he pushed himself back harder against the door.

“What’s with the—“ 

“A precaution,” Forsyte cut in. “I just need you to answer one question for me.”

Troy relaxed a little, but his eyes remained fixed on the .45. “What do you want to know?”

“The truth,” Forsyte said, and then lashed out with a quick punch to Troy’s temple. Troy collapsed, unconscious.

Forsyte slid the gun back into its holster under his jacket. He reached over and pulled Troy down onto his back and then, leaning over Troy’s body, he placed his hands on either side of Troy’s head. He closed his eyes and concentrated.

Telepathy was sometimes a side effect of a cognitive ability, but in Forsyte’s case it was a very minor side effect; one that he’d kept hidden from his employer. With some effort and mental strain, his mind’s eye gazed into the dulled thoughts of the chauffeur. And there, in the psychic maelstrom of Troy’s mind, he found the information he needed: the location of the rendezvous point.

Forsyte released his hold on Troy’s head and moved to the other end of the seat. He dragged a sleeve across his wet brow, wiping the beads of sweat away. Then he pulled a cell phone from a pocket and dialed a number from memory. The line rang once, clicked, went silent for one brief second, and then beeped.

Quickly, but succinctly, he spoke into the phone. “Agent Bryce. Field designation: Forsyte. Operation Nineteen-A slash Zero Seven. Converge at Erin and Adams. ETA: forty minutes.”

He ended the call and slid the phone back into a pocket. Then, after attending to a few other small details, Forsyte had driven the limo to the rendezvous point where Hughes would be expecting Troy to be waiting.

Now he sat quietly in the limo and thought, finally. For the past two years he’d pretended to be someone he wasn’t; little more than a glorified bloodhound on Hughes’ payroll. As an undercover operative for HAVEN – the Homeland Agency for Vigilance and Engagement – Forsyte had infiltrated Hughes’ network, all in hopes of securing a book that was rumored to be a powerful artifact. And now it seemed that he was only minutes away from completing his assignment.

A knock against the tinted driver’s window brought Forsyte out of his reverie. He glanced over at the digital clock set in the dash of the limousine. Prompt, as always, he thought. Exactly thirty minutes ago Hughes’ concise message had come over the commlink.

Another knock, this one more urgent.

Forsyte checked to be certain of the contents of his jacket pocket, then took a deep breath to strengthen his resolve.

“Well, I suppose it’s time to formally tender my resignation,” he mumbled as he pulled gloves onto his hands. He flipped up the hood of his jacket, opened the door and stepped out to face Hughes.

The second in my series of author introductions from the Freaks and Weeping Children Anthology Kickstarter.

Steve Weddle

What was the first work you sold? How did it happen?

I came to this life through literary magazines, where “selling” a story meant getting two copies of the magazine in your mailbox. I’ve had works in anthologies and received checks here and there since those earlier days, of course. The key to selling a work, it seems to me, is to write the best work you can first and then find the right market for it. That’s not what you asked, but there you go. The earliest thing I got paid money for writing was a college physics paper on black body radiation and how that led to a greater understanding of what we now call quantum physics. The guy paid me $100 and a fifth of vodka, which was kinda cool. Anyway, find your market. That’s key.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

Working with the accountants to find tax shelters for all the money you make writing fiction.

Tell us about your favorite book.

I don’t know that I have a favorite book. It’s kinda like trying to pick your favorite child or your favorite cheese, isn’t it? I think Ben Whitmer’s Satan is Real is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in the past few years. The book is nearly an autobiography of musician Charlie Louvin, but Whitmer has really sculpted something special with this one, something that seems more true than standard non-fiction. Also, Chris Holm’sCOLLECTOR series is magnificent, a run of stories that gets labeled “urban fantasy” for some reason.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I pull from all over the place, honestly. I was just reading about some pre-Civil War politics this morning and followed that up with a revisit to my Fisher King folder. No one author has been a Great Influencer on me, though I’ve certainly stolen much from Ann Beattie, Steven Brust, and Raymond Carver and others.

Any ideas for your Freaks and Weeping Children story? If so, can you give us a blurb?

Yes. I’ve been working on pieces in the same rural setting as my book, Country Hardball, looking at the time around 1933. Should be fun.

Beyond those five things, where can people find you on the internet?

Website: Steveweddle.com

Twitter: @steveweddle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3983306.Steve_Weddle

Thin clouds moved across the full moon, dimming the scattered light that found its way down between the densely packed buildings to the streets below. Deepening shadows crowded the edges of the narrow roadway. Silence hung heavy over this part of the city; no clamorous car horns, no people milling to and fro in the darkness. The only sound was the quiet tread of tires as the limousine made its way through the back streets of Rooks Port.

Thomas Hughes regarded the young man sitting at his side. Alex Duffey, or Forsyte, as he preferred to be called, wasn’t particularly impressive. He was short and slender, seemingly frail in his gray suit. His face was gaunt and unnaturally pale, and his eyes vague.

“You’re sure this is it?” Hughes asked.

Forsyte leaned against the tinted glass and gazed out into the night. Hughes watched as he raised his face to the sky and closed his eyes. Both sat silently until, finally, Forsyte opened his eyes.

“Just a little further,” he said, and then turned away from the window to look down at his feet.

Forsyte had come to Hughes two years ago looking for a job. He was a Metanorm, a child of the flux, born with abilities beyond those of a normal man. Forsyte’s particular gift was some sort of psychic cognition; a knack for just knowing things. Hughes had hired him on the spot, and then proceeded to take advantage of his special ability to seek the whereabouts of Hughes’ own personal “Holy Grail”, The Codex Penumbrae; a book rumored to contain the ancient arts of the shadows. Of course there had been false leads and erroneous information, but those had merely served as a process of elimination.

And tonight? Hughes wondered, as he turned to stare out the window.

The limousine had passed through University Square and now moved carefully down a litter-strewn alley somewhere in the vicinity of Winston Street.

“How much further?” Hughes asked his driver.

“We’re here,” came the reply. “The Aulberge Hotel.” Read the rest of this entry »

For those of you not following along with the Freaks and Weeping Children Kickstarter campaign I’d like to introduce one of the contributing authors appearing in the anthology.

Jamie Wyman

What was the first work you sold? How did it happen?

First work I sold was a short story for the anthology When the Hero Comes 2. I’d submitted my debut novel to Gabrielle Harbowy at Dragon Moon Press. Even though we ultimately didn’t publish that together, she contacted me a few months later with an invitation to be part of the anthology. I wrote “The Clever One” and sent it off. A month later, I had an acceptance in my inbox. (Consequently, I think I signed that contract the same week I signed the contract with Entangled Publishing for my debut novel Wild Card.)

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It changes from day to day. Some days it’s staying focused. Other days it’s getting past the cycle of “this sucks! No, it’s the best thing in the world!” Most often, though, I think the hardest part is remembering that nothing happens overnight. I’m an impatient Aries and I may not always know what I want, but I know I want it *now*! Patience is not my virtue, but being a writer requires a zen-like calm sometimes. That’s hard for me.

Tell us about your favorite book.

Oh geeze…

Honestly, it’s a toss-up between two:

Fool by Christopher Moore and Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley.

Fool is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s King Lear as told from the jester’s point of view. It’s not a departure from Moore’s other works, but rather seeing his trademark wit and color in Elizabethan garb. The characters are alive and the laughs don’t stop. It highlights Moore’s gift for using humor to tell a very deep, emotional story. One of his best.

Mists of Avalon is the Arthurian legend retold to focus on the women rather than the King and his Companions. I read this book every year and every time I come away with a new appreciation for something I hadn’t noticed on an earlier read. It’s timeless. It’s heartbreaking. It’s beautifully told.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Wow, again with trying to pick just one…Probably Christopher Moore, honestly. Again, I absolutely love the way he can write dick jokes and have you wetting yourself with laughter all while telling the story of the Crucifixion (Lamb). His use of humor, vulgarity and satire are masterful. Also, having met him, I have to say he’s just an awesome guy.

Any ideas for your Freaks and Weeping Children story? If so, can you give us a blurb?

So far, the piece is still hot, molten idea-slag waiting to coalesce into story.

Beyond those five things, where can people find you on the internet?

Website & Blog: www.jamiewyman.com

Twitter: @BeegirlBlue

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamie-Wyman/245049885569291

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7234286.Jamie_Wyman