Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello 2013!

We survived the Mayan apocalypse. Not feeling too hopeful about the fiscal cliff, but that's another story and fodder for late night comedians.

Here's where I'm suppose to prattle on about my New Year's resolutions. I make the same one every year: I don't make any. But in 2013, I'm making an exception. Next year, I resolve to submit a manuscript, even a short story, once a month to some publication.

It won't be that difficult. I have stories already completed, undergoing revision, while others are partially finished, plus a plethora of ideas.

To be honest, I've been shy about submitting my work. I don't have the greatest confidence in my writing. But there have been some bright spots this year. I published four stories in the Ten Tales anthologies, and a short dark fiction suspense story, "Family Tradition," with MuseItUp Publishing.

That people believed in me and my writing means a lot to me. And I'd like to take the time to acknowledge them.

First, to my readers. Thank you for buying and reading my stories. I really appreciate it.

And now, kudos to a few individuals and organizations that had my back in 2012:

Amy McCorkle. She's been with me through the highs and lows of my writing career, and she always has my back. Not only does she encourage me to submit to publishers she knows, she also buys my stories, and is there to listen when I'm bummed out about lack of sales or a bad review, or whatever.

You can find Amy at her blog, Creative Chatter

Rayne Hall. Editor of the Ten Tales anthologies, Rayne has been an absolute joy to work with. She was the one who got me back on my feet, writing-wise, in 2012, even if she doesn't realize it. :-)

Check out Rayne's site of Dark Fantasy Fiction

Glenn Kleier. Local author of the thriller, The Knowledge of Good and Evil, Glenn has given my books the occasional shout out. He doesn't have to, so I appreciate that he does. And one of these days, I'm going to write that breakout thriller. :-)

Glenn's site can be found at The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Creativity Cauldron. What can I say? One of the most supportive writing groups I've ever interacted with. A positive atmosphere makes this group a go-to one for me.

Kentucky Independent Writers. I met this group in summer of 2012, and I'm glad I found them. Not only are they devoted to helping indie Bluegrass State writers succeed, they even let small press authors like me play in the sandbox. :-)

Find out more at Kentucky Independent Writers

Sisters in Crime (local chapter). I've been with this chapter for a year now. And if things keep going the way they are, I'll be with them for more. Like the other groups I mentioned, the atmosphere is positive, although the meeting discussions can become quite interesting. LOL

That's about it. I just wanted to give credit to the people and writing groups who helped make 2012 one of my most productive writing years ever.

Thanks and have a healthy and happy 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Blog: Viola Ryan

It’s the end of the world and we know it. It’s the end of the world and we know it. It’s the end of the world and we know it and I feel fine.

2000 party over, out of time. So tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999.

Okay. I just dated myself. One of my guilty pleasures is a show called Jack Van Impe Presents. He totally cracks me up. He weaves quotes from the Bible with current events to show the world is going to end any minute now. It’s been just about to end as long as I’ve watched, back when Y2K was going to destroy the world. His ministry goes all the way back to the 50s. There are other apocalyptic preachers I’ll listen to for grins, but Van Impe is my favorite, mostly because he really knows his stuff. The Book of Revelations and other pertinent Biblical verses are about as concrete as Nostradamous‘ quatrains, and interpreting them is a real art form.

I love prophecies, real and fictional. Joss Whedon is a master at writing them so they are vague enough that their misinterpretation is what causes them to be fulfilled. That is pure genius. That’s the kind of story I wanted to write. One prophecy I’d love to know the exact wording to is George Lucas’ where Anakin is prophesied to bring balance to the force. Exact wording is key to interpreting prophecies.

Every time someone predicts the end of the world, other people panic. Nothing about what people like Van Impe predict is what causes the problems. It’s the panic that does. Maybe ultimately that is what will destroy the world tomorrow. Not a meteor, the poles reversing, or the earth exploding, but panic. The prophecy itself is the vehicle for it’s fulfillment.

So don’t panic. Instead, tomorrow is the longest night of the year. Curl up with a good book. Curl up with several.

Blurb: Lucifer is fed up with humanity. He created hell to deter evil, but man’s inhumanity is only escalating. He just wants to return home to heaven, but ever since that little problem in the Garden of Eden, the Pearly Gates remain firmly shut to him. It doesn’t help that he’s the first vampire, an abomination in God’s sight.

Fortunately, two thousand years ago Lucifer’s estranged brother, Jesus, gave him a prophecy. To fulfill it, all Lucifer has to do is find the right artist, study her artwork and the path back to heaven will be revealed. The artist even bears a symbol so he knows who she is. Too bad she is murdered every time he finds her.

Janie’s a frustrated artist and college art teacher who wants two things—a guy she can show her paintings to and a night without nightmares. Each nightmare plagues her until she paints it. She doesn’t realize these paintings are key to unlocking her destiny, one that could redeem the original fallen angel.

 “Where’s Eve?” Lucifer shouted. The columns shook, but remained standing. He balled his fists until talons pierced his palms and blood ran down his hands.
With Adam in Sumeria.” God warmed his hands by the fire.
“What will happen to Eve?” Quiet resignation filled his words, though his thoughts were spinning a mile a minute.
“You don’t care what happens to Adam. They both ate the fruit.” God shook his head and turned around. “They suffer for their disobedience.”
Eve’s scream squeezed around Lucifer’s heart, making it stop. He covered his ears and shut his eyes. In the dark, she collapsed. He leaped up.
“Punish me.” He could better withstand God’s wrath than Eve. He promised her he wouldn’t let anyone hurt her, including God. Maybe especially God.
“They expect to be punished. If they are not, they will not learn anything.” With a wave, the pedestals righted.
“You lied.” Lucifer stood in God’s face. “The fruit did not kill them.”
“That isn’t what I told them. I said if they ate the fruit, they would die. I did not say when.” God placed his hand on Lucifer’s shoulder. “I told them what they were ready for, just like heaven is being made in an image they can understand.”
“Adam gets that big palace.” It was an accusation more than a statement. “I named the angels. Heaven should be mine. I am a far more benevolent master.”
God’s laughter made Lucifer’s talons grow longer. The edges of the world turned red.
“The palace is for me. They expect their creator to be exalted.”
“What will happen to Eve?” Lucifer could still help her, somehow circumvent God’s punishment or at least mitigate it. He would find a way to take it for her.
“They have been expelled from Eden. By the sweat of Adam’s brow shall he get bread to eat. In pain shall Eve bring forth children.”
Eve in pain? He didn’t know what was worse. Eve in pain, or having Adam’s children.
“So because they expect it, Eve must suffer. That is wrong.” The words were directed at himself as much as they were to God. If only he had left Eve alone.
“Wrong.” Another power word, one that tasted similar to justice.
“That is not for you to determine.” God’s eyes swirled gold, and a pulsing white aura surrounded him.
Lucifer recoiled and shielded his eyes.
Not for him to determine? That’s exactly what he’d done. He turned his back on God and scratched his head. Wrong. Justice. These were words that made no sense yesterday. Now they were power words.
Justice. Friend. Wrong. Strong words demanding strong action, even if that action was against God.
He froze. Against God. Abba. His heavenly father. A voice inside him cried. A louder voice spurred him on. He was the only one who could protect Eve. His heart beat strong and steady. At his feet the Sword of Justice glinted in the firelight.
Keeping Eve in Eden was definitely an act of justice.
In one smooth motion, he kicked up the sword, grabbed it, raised it above his head, and plunged it through God’s back into his heart. He twisted the sword, and God slid down into a crumpled heap at Lucifer’s feet.
“Now it is.” Lucifer held the sword above his head. It didn’t ignite. Who cared? Justice had been served. Little did God know the sword he’d created would be his death.
Eve appeared next to Lucifer. He couldn’t contain his joy. Now they would fashion the universe how they wanted.
She touched the sword with one delicate finger. Blue flame consumed the hilt, and he dropped it. Before it hit the ground, it disappeared.
“You are not ready for this.” Eve/God’s thoughts held a tinge of disappointment.
Lucifer appeared outside of heaven. A high wall of the same gleaming material as the palace formed around heaven. Eve appeared behind an open gate. Its gleaming bars stretched up and down into infinity until up became down and down became up. It swung shut.
He raced for it, but was too late. The clang echoed in his soul, and he collapsed to his knees.
“You are no longer an angel. You don’t belong in heaven. You must find your way home.” God turned away.
“What am I?” Lucifer rose and sent a burst of energy at the gate. It remained shut.
“Am I human?” His soul bled at the question and darkness surrounded him. As a human he had nothing to offer Eve. He couldn’t protect her. He couldn’t create another Eden for her. She would beget Adam’s children in pain. Lucifer cringed.
Eve/God appeared next to him and traced three triangles above his heart, each attached to the other two at the corners of its base to form a fourth triangle in the center. They burned, and he screamed until his voice was raw. He collapsed and gulped fire.
Standing above him, God laid her hand on his shoulders. Pain shot down his back. He reached around, and his hands passed through wings of fire. God ran her hand along his arms. His skin itched, and then burned, as it morphed into swirling red, orange and yellow. With sweat pouring down his face, he allowed God to help him up.
“Your re-creation occurred in fire. This is now your true form. To maintain your angelic powers, you must feed on the intense energy of fire.” A ball of fire appeared on God’s outstretched hand. She shoved this into his heart.
A sharp pain stole his breath, but Lucifer refused to collapse again. He grit his teeth, and his entire body shook.
“What am I?” He stared at his arms.
“To maintain free will, you must drink the blood of humanity every three generations.”
God vanished.
“What am I?” he shouted toward the center of heaven.
“A vampire.”
The Mark of Abel available for pre-order at 20% off

Releases Dec 21, 2012

Bio: A very good friend of Viola Ryan in high school said, “You don’t think outside the box. You blow the thing up.” Sometimes boxes need exploding. That’s why she’s here. She has a whole bag of C4 and isn’t afraid to use it. She’s blessed with people who treasure her eccentricities or at least put up with them.

Sometimes the box can be a cozy place. Without some sort of stability, her two daughters’ and her life would be unmanageable. That stability comes from her husband. He’s the rock holding her family together.

On the flip side, his career is anything but stable. He’s a Chief Marine Safety Technician in the US Coast Guard. They’ve lived from Kittery, Maine to Yorktown, Virginia. Fortunately, the moves have all been on the east coast. Then again, the Coast Guard tends to guard the coast.

Her oldest daughter (15) was born on Cape Cod, not far from Plymouth. Massachusetts. Her youngest (12) was born in Yorktown, Virginia, down the road from Williamsburg. Viola jokes they’re doing the colonial America tour.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: SS Hampton, Sr.



Well, the idea isn’t so far fetched. As humanity journeys outward into the universe, I’m sure we’ll take many of our customs and traditions with us. Sometimes they’ll no longer be relevant, but they’ll still be a part of us. For awhile, at least.

I like writing speculative fiction, or science fiction if you will. I like writing of star ships exploring the universe, humans colonizing planets, and of the “Earth-born” and the “star-born.” I’m sure that just as the American colonists developed their own customs and traditions separate from the “mother country” of Great Britain, the star-born will someday chart their own path. After all, being born among the stars separates them from those of us born on Earth. They may regard the Earth as being the womb of life, just as many of us consider the oceans to be the womb from which life began.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I do that sometimes.

Sometimes I wonder what celebrating Thanksgiving (American holiday), Christmas, or New Year’s, would be like, “out there.” If Mars is the first focus of colonization, then I think such holidays will still be celebrated.

Anyway, New Year’s, well, observe the date of the Earth New Year’s, or adjust for the year of a new world? For example, Mars takes 687 days to orbit the sun (Wikipedia). Stick to an informal 365-day New Year’s celebration, followed by a formal 687-day New Year celebration? Or what of Christmas? Stick to the Earth calendar, and informally celebrate Christmas, or officially celebrate Christmas according to the time of Mars’ orbit? Such questions become more interesting the further out we go—Jupiter orbits the sun every 11.86 years (Wikipedia), and Saturn orbits every 29 ½ years (Wikipedia). And those questions become even more interesting again, the further out we go.

People being what we are, I can see a few discussions about this devolve into name-calling and fist fights.

I suppose the first Thanksgiving will always be a special one for those first pioneers who pave the way for others to follow. They’ll be the first in such a harsh, alien environment that allows little room for error. Perhaps they’ll eat Thanksgiving dinner in a decorated, otherwise plain military style messhall. Maybe real turkeys will have been brought from Earth. All morning long the wonderful, homey scent of baking turkey, stuffing, vegetables, and biscuits will waft through the artificial womb that protects them, and allows them to live.

Christmas might be another story as humanity travels further. After years of struggle by the first pioneers, real Christmas trees in all of their glorious “Christmasy scent” might finally make it all the way to Mars. Real toys too, as by then there might actually be children on Mars. And by then the people might be a combination of Earth-born and Mars-born. Some might remember an old family tradition of chopping down and bringing home the Christmas tree, while others will have never seen one—especially the younger children. Maybe someone might order a real Yule Log, just to keep traditions alive on that distant, rocky, reddish sand world.

New Year’s—well, regardless of whether one celebrates according to an Earth calendar or a space calendar, imagine celebrating New Year’s dancing before Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, or kissing your loved one in the shadow of Saturn’s rings. Those would be celebrations worth attending, whether for real, or through writing speculative fiction.

 Happy Holidays to everyone!

“Protolanguage, Cookie Dough, and Mistletoe.” Christmas Collectibles 2010 Anthology, Midnight Showcase Fiction (Melange Books), November 2010. ISBN: 978-1-61235-095-0

BLURB: Christmas is a time of good cheer and gift giving. But sometimes the gift giving can be more important than anyone could imagine…

EXCERPT: The world was a stinging, churning cloud of smoke and dust. The air was so hot that it parched a throat already dry and sucked the moisture out of the exhausted body so that the skin resembled charred leather. Muffled popping sounds hurt already ringing ears and brought a reaction of crouching with hands clenching desperately at empty air. Blind skeletal hands thrust forward desperately as a way was sought out of the thick, scorching clouds.


Screams echoed within the boiling clouds as the skeletal hands burst into bright, smoky flames…

* * * * 

Tommy Simpson shot upright from his bed, gasping wildly as his wide eyes swept the darkness of the bedroom. He ran a hand across his face and sat down on the edge of the bed with his painfully throbbing head lowered. A glance at the digital clock showed 12 – but was it midnight or noon?

He stealthily opened the door and looked down the hallway; dim lights flickered in the living room. He wrinkled his nose and smelled coffee and cooking food, and heard the tinny music of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Over all hung the sweet, mysterious aroma of burning cedar wood.

He ventured down the hallway and peeked into the kitchen.

“Hey sleepy head,” a fleshy, full bodied woman with long black hair dressed in a thin t-shirt and jean shorts cheerfully greeted him. “It’s about time you got up. It’s noon!”

“Aunt Jenny?” he whispered in surprise.

“The one and only,” Jenny Danner, Ph.D., laughed. “Coffee? I assume that now that you’re a mn you drink coffee?”

“Uh, yeah,” he nodded as he rubbed his painful temples and ventured to the bar stools that lined the wood and granite island between the kitchen and dining room. “Coffee, beer, rum and coke, and rum and egg nog, too.”

“Didn’t your mom tell you I was visiting?”

“No. She’s kinda wrapped up in her boyfriend, Willy Deal the used car salesman.”

“Well, I’m visiting for the holidays,” she said as she placed coffee, sugar, and Irish creamer before him. She held a dirty beer mug up. “Rum and egg nog last night?”

“It’s the holidays,” he replied half-heartedly as he prepared his coffee…

Protolanguage, Cookie Dough, and Mistletoe 


SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old; his first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that he had another short story published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Contest Winner!

Courtesy of Derek Comach,

  Congratulations, Leona! You've won a copy of "Family Tradition." Please email me at by midnight, December 22 to let me know which format you'd like.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 "Family Tradition" Giveaway

Family Tradition Story Trailer

Twice now, I've meant to give away a copy of my short dark fiction suspense story, "Family Tradition", and twice I've forgotten. 

Well, today seemed like the perfect day, what with it being 12-12-12 and all. So if the trailer intrigues you, and you'd like to win a copy of the story (not the video), please leave a comment between now and Friday, 12-14-12 at 11:59PM. I'll draw one winner on 12-15-12. 

Back Cover:
Artist Rick Stanton needs a commission. He faces eviction from his apartment and his latest project is on hiatus. Worse, his muse refuses to cooperate. A recent letter may contain the inspiration he needs. Inside is the photograph of a mysterious woman, her face hidden by an umbrella. But there’s no identification, no way for him to contact her. A month later, another envelope arrives, this time with a phone number. Realizing this may be his last chance, Rick calls her. The woman introduces herself as Elizabeth and tells him she wants him to paint her portrait.

Rick agrees, only to learn there are conditions. Elizabeth is a recluse who lives with her two servants in a Victorian manor. She never allows her face to be seen. Not only must he stay at Elizabeth’s residence while painting her, he can’t leave, nor can he ever tell anyone about the portrait.

Sensing something isn’t right, Rick is even more disturbed by the sinister undercurrent beneath the household’s genteel fa├žade. It’s somehow connected to the family portraits hanging in Elizabeth’s living room. Could they be haunted? And why doesn’t Elizabeth’s housekeeper want Rick to finish the painting?

The housekeeper waited for me in the corridor. “The mistress requests your presence.” She pressed her hand against a panel and a heretofore-unseen door swung outward to reveal a narrow, dark stairwell. I’d no idea if this hidden room was a common feature of Victorian houses, but given Elizabeth’s mysterious photograph, a secret room seemed to fit.

“Through here, sir, and up those steps. The mistress is in the room at the top.”

Hand pressed against the door, I looked up the narrow stairwell. Once the door closed, I’d be in total darkness. I swallowed, apprehension tracing the back of my neck with icy fingers. Not that I was claustrophobic, but the thought of being surrounded by such gloom unnerved me. I turned to the housekeeper. “Don’t suppose you have a light?”

“You’ll be fine.”

What then? I wanted to ask, but the door had already started to swing shut. I made a grab for it. Too late.

I fumbled for an opening, some notch for my fingers to grasp—a knob, latch, anything. Nothing. Not even a light switch.      

Inside the passage, the musty odor of old wood and stale air assailed my nostrils. Tattered cobwebs brushed against the top of my head. Had this stairwell ever been aired out? Probably not. I guided my hand along the wall as I edged my toe forward until I touched a riser. I stepped up and repeated the process, counting twenty steps until my hands pressed against what felt like wood. I pushed and whatever was in front of me scraped open.

“Welcome, Rick.”

I recognized Elizabeth’s voice, but her head and face were concealed by a hooded cape.

She stepped past me to close the door. I looked back and bile rose in my throat. Grotesque demons, carved in the wood, glared and leered at me in various stages of agony and bestial ecstasy. What the hell had I gotten myself into?

"Family Tradition" is available from
MuseItUp Publishing