Free Short Story: “The Slut Buck” in Apiary Magazine

Andrew didn’t know that he’d killed the slut buck. He’d just settled to one knee, trained the crosshairs on the broadside and squeezed the trigger.

That’s the first line of my story “The Slut Buck” that appeared in Apiary Magazine a few years ago. You can read the whole thing here.

While you’re there, take a minute to check out some of the great poetry and fiction they’ve published … there’s a lot of good stuff, including one poem I really enjoyed called “Dr. Hermitcrab” by Max Webber.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Wrath of the Ice Dragon and 20 Free Books

The best sledding of my life didn’t happen on a hill. Or even on a sled.

And I tell that story over at Eileen Wiedbrauk’s website as part of Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Blog Tour.

So go now for a fun little story about my childhood. And while you’re there, be sure to enter for a chance to win a MASSIVE package of 20 FREE BOOKS and other swag.

And, hey. Since I know you love books and reading, be sure to take a look at the other writers and participants in the Giftmas Blog Tour. Suzanne van Rooyen offered suggested gifts for writers on my site, and there are a whole bunch of other top-notch writers on this blog tour schedule.

So please take a second to check it all out and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win lots of cool stuff, including paperback copies of my two historical novels from the Tomahawk and Saber series.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist – Giftmas Blog Tour

giftmas_rectangleRhonda Parrish has been here before, and she was nice enough and ambitious enough to organize and include me in her Giftmas Blog Tour. (Full explanation when you click on the above image.)

The main idea is there will be at least one blog post dedicated to the theme each day in December, hosted by a number of other writers and editors.  I’m hosting a guest today, I’ll be hosted elsewhere later, and … AND …  if you read to the bottom, you’ll find a chance to win a whole ton of prizes, including a grand prize of TWENTY FREE BOOKS.

And here, folks, is Suzanne van Rooyen’s “A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist:”

Buying Christmas presents for regular people often proves tricky or expensive, usually both. Buying Christmas presents for the writerly people in your life, doesn’t have to be either! I’ve compiled a writerly Christmas wishlist of things I’d really love for Christmas (hint hint, friends and family if you’re reading this) and think that other writers might find these useful, fun, and awesome too. You’re welcome 🙂

 1) Aquanotes

aqua-notes-homeEvery author has experienced the magic of the shower. There is no place like the shower for being struck by inspiration. Sadly, most of the brilliant ideas born beneath suds and spray end up swirling down the drain because the moment you step out of the shower, the ideas vanish. That’s why every writer needs Aquanotes, the water-proof solution to note-taking while in the shower!

 2) Space Pen

This remarkable invention writes at any angle and is perfect for those just-before-I-fall-asleep inspiration attacks that leave writers scrabbling for the notepad they always keep beside their bed. However, pens rarely write upside down and by the time the half-asleep writer has managed to adjust into a better position, the idea has disappeared. This is why the space pen is a necessity.

 3) Cute pyjamas

Never doubt the power of comfy clothes! All writers know they are far more productive on the days they spend writing in pyjamas. But each writer is different and needs their own particular brand of comfy cute. I have a strong preference for woolly Hello Kitty pjs, but I wouldn’t say no to a fleecey Snoopy onesie either. And don’t forget we write in summer too and might need some lighter yet no less comfy jammies for the warmer days spent at the computer.

 4) Snacks

Some writers like to go the healthy route, cramming handfuls of nuts and dried fruit into their mouths between paragraphs. Others among us prefer real brain-food like chocolate, M&Ms, Skittles, Smarties, cookies, marshmallows, and anything involving peanut-butter. A basket full of snacks to fuel the writer brain would be a truly fantastic gift – just don’t expect your writer friend to share.

 5) Beverages

And along with the snacks, perhaps you could throw in a few beverages of your writer’s choice. Personally, I write best when clutching a glass of delicious pinot noir. Shiraz is fine too. And don’t forget dark roasted coffee, and plenty of herbal tea for those days when the caffeine-induced jitters make typing a little too tricky. If you love your writer, you’ll supply them with exactly what they need be it coffee, wine, or something stronger.

 6) A quirky mug

Now of course we have to drink our beverage of choice out of something. Make sure you have your writer’s house correct before handing them a Ravenclaw mug when really they’re a Gryffindor and how dare you think otherwise! If you’re not too au fait with all things HP, then play it safe and stick with mugs bearing inspiring messages like ‘there, their, they’re’ – your writer will appreciate it. Also, the bigger the mug the better – obviously!

And there you have it. Now you know exactly how to fill the Christmas stocking of the writer in your life. If you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments and I will gratefully append them to my list!

___

Suzanne author photoThe author of THE OTHER ME, I HEART ROBOT and the forthcoming SCARDUST, Suzanne van Rooyen is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

You can find Suzanne on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and her website.

One more thing! If you like free stuff, remember to enter the giveaway below – there are lots of chances to improve your chances of winning a prize, which includes the grand prize of TWENTY BOOKS plus some more swag!

 

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

A Quick Bit of Fiction for You: “Pretty Don’t”

FWi2Here’s a post just to spread some free fiction around.

This is a short story (flash fiction, really) that I wrote and that originally appeared in Fractured West, Issue 2, edited by Kristy Logan and Helen Sedgwick. Sadly, the journal closed in 2013, but I thought I’d share my little contribution to it. 

Hope you like it. 

Pretty Don’t

He never used to tell me I was pretty. Maybe sometimes, but then he’d say beautiful instead of pretty. Most times, he didn’t say either. He’d call me smart. I got mad cause I didn’t want to be smart. I wanted to be pretty.

Now he says it a lot, but his smile’s different. I smile too. I like being pretty. But now I miss what he used to say. I miss his old smile.

Dad still reads books at breakfast sometimes. When he gets up for more coffee, he folds the cover around back to hold his page. When he picks it up again, I can see the white scars and crinkles on the back. He says they still have all the same words in them. But I don’t like how the backs are all broken and they flop open like they’re too tired to hold everything inside anymore.

When he sees me staring, he watches me. He bites his lip like he’s waiting for something.

Sometimes he asks if I remember how he used to make me hot chocolate for breakfast. He pretended I was drinking coffee like he was. But he says I was too smart. I knew it wasn’t coffee. He always said I was too smart for him and Mom cause I read so much.

I remember lots of things before the accident. Like sitting in Dad’s big chair and reading a book he bought for me. Or pretending to drink coffee. I remember I got my license. He showed me how to drive, but he says I can’t drive now. I remember Dad used to wink and say, “Smarts last, pretty don’t.”

Now he smiles at me and it’s different. It goes away faster, like it’s too heavy to hold. But it makes me smile anyway. I can feel his fingers on the scar when he brushes my hair and says, “My little girl’s so pretty.”

***

The 777 Writer’s Challenge – An Excerpt from my WIP

I’ve been challenged.

Mike Fuller, a fellow historical fiction writer, tagged me in the “777 Writer’s Challenge” in which I’m dared to share seven lines, beginning with the the 7th line down on the 7th page of a work-in-progress.

Well, I’m not usually one to back away from challenges. So here’s an excerpt from Through the Narrows (written by me and Evan Ronan), the second novel in our Tomahawk and Saber series:

As he turned, a sudden movement caught his eye and he reflexively braced himself. He grunted and twisted his body as a boy slammed onto his back. Wolf Tongue rolled, swinging the boy over his shoulder and locking him in a hug against his chest.

Root Cutter, Wolf Tongue’s nephew, struggled against the grip for a moment before Wolf Tongue released him.

The boy turned to face his uncle and lifted his chin high. He was growing quickly and strong, one of the few who seemed to be. He almost stood to Wolf Tongue’s shoulders and had a sharp jaw and quick hands. Like his uncle, he wore his hair shaved on all sides and with a lock of hair at the back crest, but today he wore a tight cap dyed red and black. His nose, like that of his mother who was taken by the pox, was arched like a hawk’s beak.

Root Cutter straightened his leather tunic. “You never saw me hiding there. If I’d had a knife …”

Wolf Tongue winked. “If you had a knife, I’d have a new one for my collection.”

Slightly more than seven lines. And also only barely a work in progress, as it will very shortly be released. (Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it’s out.) But fun anyway, I hope.

Thanks for the challenge, Mike!

 

Potential Cover Art, Vague Updates for Tomahawk and Saber, and Other Writing

Last weekend was a storm of writing, outlining, raunchy jokes, planning, beer, and an actual, literal storm.

So after doing some fun work with great friends, I thought I’d give just a quick update. Here’s what’s shakin’:

Original rough-draft cover art for Language of the Bear

Lego already made a Wolf Tongue and Pyke set!

Lego already made a Wolf Tongue and Pyke set!

OK. No, it’s not. But it was a pretty funny find when we were just browsing stock photos. And if not for LOTB, there’s always book two. Speaking of which …

Through the Narrows is almost done! Yes, a little later than we planned (sorry!), but we’re taking a little extra time to make sure it’s just right. And so far, the reactions we’ve gotten are that this book is even more suspenseful and faster-paced than LOTB.

So the release is coming soon and if you want a sneak peek at the cover art and jacket copy, we’ll be releasing that to our mailing lists before anywhere else—so please make sure I’ve got your email.

Tomahawk and Saber books 3 and 4 are going to knock your moccasins off. Evan and I did some semi-detailed outlines for the next few books, and as much as I think TTN is upping the tension and thrills, the ones that come after are going to keep that momentum going. No spoilers, but suffice to say I’m very excited to start putting our characters back into harm’s way. This, of course, means lots of writing.

My solo project hit half-way. As I’m writing novels with Evan Ronan, I’m also typing away on solo projects. I’m not in the habit of talking too extensively about works in progress until they’re completed, so this isn’t a pitch. Just me letting you know that I’m still writing. And also that I’m really enjoying the scenes where Rammstein is the perfect soundtrack and that I’ve only got about another 50,000 words until I write “The End.”

The End.

Through the Narrows Edits, Outlining Books 3 and 4—a Working Weekend with Evan Ronan

How many people can say they’re looking forward to working this weekend?

I can.

It’s not all that often that Evan Ronan and I get to hang out in person anymore, more’s the pity. Still, our friendship from years ago has made writing of the Tomahawk and Saber series pretty smooth, despite living in different states now.

This weekend, though, is a working weekend when we’ll be under the same roof. On the agenda:

– Some final, very close to FINAL final, edits for Through the Narrows. (That’s book 2 of the series if you haven’t been keeping score.) We’ve gotten some edits back from our editors and now’s the time to work on the final polishes.

– Even more exciting is doing the more detailed outlines for books 3 and 4 in the series. We’ve got some solid ideas and plot lines that we think are going to shake things up for our characters (read: make their lives miserable), and, we hope, for our readers (read: make them surprised, but hopefully not miserable).

– And also, we’ll probably drink some beer. Possibly cider in homage to the history of 18th century America. After all, I think it was after a few drinks that we had the idea for these books in the first place.

So yes, there’s work to be done. But it’s work I love. And also, I’ll get to have some drinks with a great friend.

 

Need Creativity? Maybe You’re not Bored Enough

 

Creativity isn’t an issue just for writers, musicians, and artists—almost everyone uses creativity to solve problems, do their jobs, and just have fun with their lives. So you really need to check out this article from New Tech City titled “The Case for Boredom.”

In it, the host of the program explores a little bit about what boredom really does for us and how important it is for our brains and for creativity.

Oh, and how our phones and constant internet connectivity might be killing your creativity.

And then she issues a challenge to us to join the Bored and Brilliant Project. This is a series of daily challenges to help people take conscious control of their phone, internet, and consider how it affects our brains and our lives.

I just started going through the challenges (they began in January, so I’m a little behind—whoops) and the first challenge, as explained in about an 8-minute podcast, was to just leave your phone alone when you’re traveling. No checking texts while walking down the hall. No browsing Twitter on the bus. Just leave your phone in your bag.

Could you do it?

I learned about the challenge through their podcast (which I learned about from my wife – thank you!). The episodes so far are all thoughtful, engaging, and usually less than 20 minutes each. It’s hard not to binge on a few hours of listening about “how technology is changing our lives.”

But then I figured me bingeing on podcasts is just a way to avoid boredom …

Seriously – read the article or listen to the episode and subscribe. We might all be smarter people soon.

Those Boozey Revolutionaries

When you’re researching things for historical fiction, one of the key elements is understanding what people in your setting did all day. And in the American colonies, what they did was drink.

Sure, they did a lot more. Like plan a revolution, write some neat aphorisms, lay the foundations for what would become a global power, and so on. But they also had a bit of a tipplin’ way, you might say.

You can read more about how American colonists imbibed with the birds in this article from the people at Colonial Williamsburg. But here are two fun snippets:

Many started the day with a pick-me-up and ended it with a put-me-down. Between those liquid milestones, they also might enjoy a midmorning whistle wetter, a luncheon libation, an afternoon accompaniment, and a supper snort. If circumstances allowed, they could ease the day with several rounds at a tavern.

The age of the cocktail lay far in the future. Colonists, nevertheless, enjoyed alcoholic beverages with such names as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip. If they indulged too much, then they had dozens of words to describe drunkenness. Benjamin Franklin collected more than 200 such terms, including addled, afflicted, biggy, boozy, busky, buzzey, cherubimical, cracked, and “halfway to Concord.”

Be sure to check out the full article, and if you can, visit Colonial Williamsburg.

One more thing I just realized: if I’m writing about these people, it might be best to get into character as much as possible …