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!

 

Book Birthday: THROUGH THE NARROWS is Available Today!

Through the Narrows, the new historical adventure in the Tomahawk and Saber series set during the French and Indian War, is available in ebook from Amazon today!

Through the Narrows

This is the second book in the tales that began with Language of the Bear, and some early readers have told us that they enjoyed this one even more than the first.

(By the way, if you prefer paper you can hold, paperbacks will be available very shortly—stay tuned.)

 

***

Wolf Tongue of the Susquehannock and Lieutenant Hugh Pyke of the British Army barely survived their first mission together. Now with the French and Indian War beginning to flame around them, the frontier of the Pennsylvania Colony is restless.

When they’re called back to protect Millers Town from Indian raiders, Pyke and Wolf Tongue discover the settlement is outnumbered and there is no militia to reinforce them. Even worse, Pyke and Wolf Tongue fear the townsfolk harbor secrets just as deadly as their attackers.

As Pyke tries to build a haphazard defense with a band of farmers and children against an almost inevitable slaughter, the mysteries of the town begin to unravel. Pyke realizes his life is in danger from the very people he is duty-bound to protect—perhaps, even from the beautiful French outcast who seems to know more than she should.

With a final, crushing attack imminent, Wolf Tongue hurries to rescue a kidnapped girl who might be the only hope for the town’s survival while Pyke struggles to protect the innocent. As they carve away layers of deceit, both men must confront the terrible truths behind Millers Town to survive the dangers to their lives, their peoples, and their honor.

Through the Narrows continues the historical adventure of the Tomahawk and Saber series, filled with suspense and action that captures the deadly brutality, danger, and strength of Colonial America.

***

Thank you to everyone who’s enjoyed the first book and I hope you like Through the Narrows just as much!

Giveaway: A Free, Signed Copy of Language of the Bear

The final proof has been proofed and the paperbacks are coming!

The final proof has been proofed and the paperbacks are coming!

We just submitted our final files for printing the paperbacks of LOTB, and what better way to celebrate than to give one away?

Thank you to everyone who entered our Goodreads giveaway and added Language of the Bear as to-be-read. If you didn’t win one of the copies, I’ve got one more autographed copy to give away to the awesome folks who’ve joined my mailing list.

If you’d like a chance to win, just add your email here.

It will only take about 7 seconds. And I promise you won’t get be awash in a bunch of emails—I don’t email often, and you’ll get some special discounts on books, free stuff, and exclusive, subscriber-only writing.

If you’re already on my mailing list, thank you, and you’ll be entered for the random drawing on July 23.

Thanks, and good luck!

P.S. If you REALLY want this free signed copy, every time you share this on your favorite social media sites, I’ll add your name in for another chance to win. 

 

Cover Reveal: Corvidae from World Weaver Press

Want some cool cover art and great stories about those creepily crafty crows? (And maybe ravens, jays, magpies, etc?) 

I’m lucky to get to reveal the cover art and blurbs for this anthology from the folks at World Weaver Press. What makes me even more excited about it is it’s edited by a very nice, smart person I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past and finally meeting at World Fantasy Con this past year, Rhonda Parrish. Plus, it features a writer friend, Michael S Pack

What I’m getting at is that the cover art and stories all look and sound great. So check this out:

 

CORVIDAE-coverAssociated with life and death, disease and luck, corvids have long captured mankind’s attention, showing up in mythology as the companions or manifestations of deities, and starring in stories from Aesop to Poe and beyond.

In Corvidae birds are born of blood and pain, trickster ravens live up to their names, magpies take human form, blue jays battle evil forces, and choughs become prisoners of war. These stories will take you to the Great War, research facilities, frozen mountaintops, steam-powered worlds, remote forest homes, and deep into fairy tales. One thing is for certain, after reading this anthology, you’ll never look the same way at the corvid outside your window.

Featuring works by Jane Yolen, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, M.L.D. Curelas, Tim Deal, Megan Engelhardt, Megan Fennell, Adria Laycraft, Kat Otis, Michael S. Pack, Sara Puls, Michael M. Rader, Mark Rapacz, Angela Slatter, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Leslie Van Zwol.

Praise for Corvidae:

“Smart and dark like the corvids themselves, this excellent collection of stories and poems will bring you a murder of chills, a tiding of intrigue, a band of the fantastic, and—most of all—an unkindness of sleepy mornings after you’ve stayed up too late reading it!”

— Karen Dudley, author of Kraken Bake

“Magic and corvids collide in this certain to intrigue anthology.”

— Joshua Klein, hacker and inventor of the crow vending machine

“A creepy, crazy kaleidoscope of corvids,Corvidae is what happens when you bring together ingenious writers and sagacious subjects. It’s nothing short of a thrill ride when this anthology takes flight.”

— Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D., Utah State University; behaviorworks.org.

“As sparkling and varied as a corvid’s hoard of treasures, Corvidae is by turns playful and somber, menacing and mischievous. From fairy tale to steampunk adventure, from field of war to scene of crime, these magical birds will take you to places beyond your wildest imaginings.”

—  Jennifer Crow, poet and corvid-by-marriage

Please consider adding this to your TBR list and then, you know, actually R it.

Win a Signed Paperback of Language of the Bear Before you Can Buy It

Language_of_the_Bear_coverLanguage of the Bear is coming out in paperback!

And to celebrate, Evan Ronan and I are giving away 5 autographed copies!

To enter to win your own free, signed copy, just visit the giveaway page on Goodreads and click “Enter Giveaway” by Saturday the 20th. 

*Insert Arnold Schwarzennegger voice: Do it! Do it now!*

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Yes, there actually is. Here are those more things:

1) We’re offering 100 free ebooks to people willing to post an honest review on their favorite site. If you’re on LibraryThing, there’s a current offer for reviewers of LOTB.  These reviews are extremely helpful for us, and I hope you’ll consider entering for one of the books.

You’ll need to click this link and then search the text for “Language of the Bear” to find and request it among the gargantuan list of giveaways. While you’re there, why not search for other keywords to find some other books you might like to read?

2) The second book in the Tomahawk and Saber series, Through the Narrows, is coming out at the end of this month.

We’re keeping pretty close-lipped on the description and cover art for a big reveal just before the launch, though if you join my email list, you’ll get a peek before anyone else.

We’re pretty sure that if you liked LOTB, you’re going to like TTN, too. Here’s a teaser from Evan’s blog:

In the second book of the Tomahawk & Saber series, Wolf Tongue and Pyke find themselves defending a less-than-deserving small town on the Pennsylvania frontier against a vastly superior force of Mingos who are out for blood.

If you’re a fan of history, adventure, and good old-fashioned character-driven action stories, then you should check these books out. They’re fast, fun, violent, and at times brutal.

Go forth and win lots of books, people!

Historical Fiction Research and Chapter One for Language of the Bear

Language of the Bear is THIS close to publication! We had some back and forth with our editor for a bit, and are now finalizing edits and cover art.

And because publication is so close, I want you to start reading it.

I’ll be sending out the first chapter free to you lovely people on my mailing list. If you’re already on my it (thank you!), you’ll get an email in the next few days. But if you’re not,

click here to get on my list before the book comes out and I’ll send you chapter one of Language of the Bear.

And don’t worry about getting hammered with emails—I don’t send newsletters often or bombard you with nonsense. I’ll generally only email you when there’s actual news, special announcements or deals.

LOTB is getting so close I can smell the campfires, but the writing goes on for other projects. And everything that goes along with the writing, like the research so key in historical fiction.

Here comes the summer reading.

Here comes the summer reading.

LOTB is the first novel in the Tomahawk & Saber series and it takes place in the days just before the French and Indian War. And then the second book, Through the Narrows, brings our heroes even closer to the actual war. (It’s sometimes called the Seven Years War, which is odd because it’s generally marked as 1754 – 1763. You do the math).

Then the untitled THIRD book … well, I won’t tell you exactly. But suffice to say, I’m redoubling my efforts at research for the French and Indian War and all the goings-on around it.

Of course, I’ve been reading books about Colonial history, Native American tribes of the eastern woodlands, and all that goes along with that era for a long time. Especially during the writing of LOTB, there was a lot of digging for historical details again.

But that book largely takes place on the frontier, away from much of what makes it into history books. Now, though, as Evan Ronan and I are finishing the plotting for the third book, we’re both refreshing our history and getting some additional research in to really make this era and story come alive.

I’ve got a stack of books to start with. Some I’ve read before, others not. And the research begins in earnest as soon as LOTB is published.

(I say that as if it’s an onerous task. Really, I get to sit and read about exciting history and people. … Good work, if you can get it.)

My Book’s Coming Out Next Month! Wanna Know What it’s About?

You guys! Guess what! I have a book coming out!

(You can tell I’m excited because I almost never use exclamation points.)

To make a long story short, I wrote a historical adventure with my friend Evan Ronan, and after a few near misses at traditional publishing and lots of good, personal feedback, we decided to publish it ourselves.

Right now, we’re doing the final polish of the manuscript after receiving comments from our editor, and our very talented designer is working up cover art—I’m sure I’ll show that off quite soon.

That means we’re on the final leg of producing the novel, and …

Language of the Bear will be available through Amazon in ebook in April, and print in May.

The genesis of the book and our decision to publish it ourselves is a long story that I’ll get into another day.

But for now, here’s what our book’s about:

In the hostile wilderness of Colonial America, a young Native American warrior and a British officer are forced into a secret assassination mission. But when they learn their prey is more dangerous than they feared, can they complete their mission, protect a dying tribe, confront a madman, and still survive?

With war rumbling on the horizon, Lieutenant Hugh Pyke arrives in the Pennsylvania Colony hoping to prove himself against the French. Instead, he finds himself blackmailed into a dishonorable mission to assassinate the cousin of the woman he loves.

Wolf Tongue, a brash warrior of a dying tribe, volunteers to guide Pyke through the dangers of both the landscape and its indigenous nations. Even as he fights to protect his people from European and Native invaders, he struggles to earn the respect of those he would save.

An action-filled, old-fashioned adventure, Language of the Bear is the first novel in the Tomahawk and Saber series.

And yes, this is the first novel in the series. In addition to working with final edits on Language of the Bear, we’re also wrapping up the second book (tentatively titled Through the Narrows), which is slated for release in May.

If you’re on Goodreads and this sounds like something you might dig, please add it to your to-be-read list, because it’ll certainly make these two guys smile. 

Thanks for the Books, Mom and Dad

I don’t remember the specifics of the summer (summers?) when my mom took me to the library for the reading program. It was for one of those things where a kid reads some books and earns points or toys or something to encourage reading. I didn’t need the encouragement, but I enjoyed it regardless.

Our visits could have been weekly or daily. And it could have been just a month one summer, or the whole summer break for a few years when I was in grade school. I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter.

Because what I remember is my mom taking me and my sister to the library many, many times (and on-demand if my memory’s to be believed). School was closed, so I couldn’t get books out of the library there. And as much as I loved being outside, I could only handle so much sunburn and fingers pruned from pools and bleeding from fishhooks. Besides, I also loved books, and I needed a lot of them.

So my mom would take me to the library where I’d jam my backpack to where it weighed as much as I did, and I was a big kid.

Then, on my return trip the next week/day/whatever, I’d sit at a table with a librarian. She’d ask questions about the book. I’d tell her what happened and what I liked and what I didn’t. She’d recommend other books I might like. Then, to my surprise, she would offer me some special little tchotchke—I seem to remember a red flute-like whistle that I was fond of—as if just getting to learn about Greek mythology and volcanoes and reptiles weren’t enough by itself!

My mom would again help me pick out all the exciting tales and tomes of knowledge that I’d take home to hunch over. And then we’d do it all again.

I don’t remember my dad ever taking me to the library. That’s not to say he didn’t; I just don’t remember it.

What I do remember is my dad taking me to the bookstore. Back then it was Walden’s in the mall. And whenever we went, the only limit to how many books he’d buy for his kids was based on how much cash he had in his wallet that day.

If I wanted toys? Nope. (Well, probably nope. But sometimes yes.)

If I wanted books? Always yes. No questions asked—my pop had his wallet ready.

Up until I earned my own money, my father would buy me as many books as I asked for. And he probably would have still if I hadn’t been too proud to let somebody else pay for my addiction.

And I don’t remember them once questioning my choice in titles. If it was available and had pages with words and no dirty pictures, it was mine. (Maybe that one limitation was another reason I started buying my own.)

Not only did they not censor or question what might be appropriate for me, they also engaged. They made sure they knew what I was reading and what it was about. My mom would ask in-depth questions on car rides much like that librarian.

I even used to read aloud to them as part of another school-sponsored reading program. I think it was Book-It, where I’d earn personal pizzas from Pizza Hut for every so many books I read. This was heaven for me—I got to read about swords and dragons AND get pizza!

But my poor parents bought me those books, then endured a 10-year-old reading Dragonlance aloud for probably more than a year.

Bless their souls.

 

Tasting Outside Your Genre—of Books and Burgers

Every writer knows they’re supposed to read books from different areas of the bookstore.

Wait, no. Every reader knows that, too, or at least has heard the recommendation to read widely.

The advice goes something like this:

“You write sci-fi/mystery/romance/YA/whatever? Read everything, old and new, in your genre. Then read lots of stuff in other genres.”

Or, alternately for readers who have less interest in writing:

“You like westerns/fantasy/literary fiction/whatever? Try something different to expand your horizons.” 

Basically, that thing you like? Read lots of it. Then also read EVERYTHING ELSE!

But, wait … that’s a lot of stuff. One estimate is that there were more than a million print books published in 2013. That’s in the US, in one year, and only print books. How can you possibly keep up?

Well, you can’t.

And there’s the problem with the suggestion of reading outside your genre. If you love reading fantasy (like me), you want lots of it. So you go and you gorge on George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Robert Jordan, and the like. Then you might dig into older stuff like Robert E Howard and Fritz Lieber. And once you hit some of the big names, you move on to the deep tracks of lesser-known authors who still offer incredible stories and great writing. Because there are thousands of people telling different, amazing stories in every genre, you always have something new to read.

It’s like cheeseburgers. Yes, burgers. They’re delicious and fill you with happiness. There’s an incredible variety of of how they’re made, what is in them, and how much you’ll enjoy them, and you want to taste them all! (I once had one—a burger, not a book—topped with a marrow ragout that was unbelievable!)

And if your love as a diner prompts you to become a chef (please follow my extended metaphor here), you want to taste as many burgers as you can. If you’re creating burgers, you need to experience the options and see what other people have done to help you perfect your own patties. So it’s easy to limit your consumption to what you want to create, especially because there are so many choices in your niche that you can never complete an exhaustive survey.

But.

Yes, there’s a but. For readers and writers alike, it’s important to taste new things. It’s challenging to pick up a new book with a cover that doesn’t look like the rest of those on your shelf. It’s not comfortable. What if you waste your time on this weird literary fiction thing? What if the mystery you pick up is dull and formulaic? What if this fantasy book is filled with saccharine and stilted dialog?

Well, then you’ve tried something different and learned about your own tastes. The more important question is: what if this literary fiction is filled with amazing insight? What if the mystery keeps you huddled under your bed lamp while your spouse snoozes? What if this fantasy book reveals more about our real world than “realist” novels?

And for writers, the temptation to stay with your type of book is even greater. There are so many giants in your genre that you  haven’t read yet!

Here’s how I wrangle that. As a kid, I found The Hobbit, and then the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and fell in love with fantasy and have had a steady diet of it since. But thankfully, some people pushed me to read other things. And without that push, I’d have missed out on pure enjoyment and writing lessons offered by writers like Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Virginia Woolf.

I haven’t read everything that’s categorized in my favorite genres. It’s almost (if not entirely) impossible to. But I’ve read a lot, and continue to, while also taking time away from the type of stuff I write to read something very different. Because as much as I love cheeseburgers, sometimes a good piece of salmon is just as delicious.

Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep

With that in mind, and with thanks to Evan Ronan for his suggestion and my sister for her gift card with which I purchased some books, I’m trying some things that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up.

Let’s start with The Big Sleep.