#BestReads2017: Outdoorsy Horror

Lists from previous years:

Best Reads 2012

Best Reads 2013

Best Reads 2014

Best Reads 2015

Best Reads 2016

I hope you had a fantastic 2017 and that you read the best, the kindest, the scariest, funniest, saddest and most adventurous stories to your heart’s content! If you have a list, please feel free to share it in the comments. Book suggestions are always welcomed.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9969571It’s a somewhat weird moment when you find a book through a song but browsing through YouTube’s forgotten hits of the 80’s would do that for you it appears. Oingo Bongo’s ‘Dead Man’s Party’ had a top comment “Waiting for Anorak’s invitation to arrive” and naturally I got curious what that references. I’m very glad I did because ‘Ready Player One’ was probably my favorite summer read.

It has a pinch of that teen romance gamers edition, but it runs alongside a deftly generated world (to think of one close reference, it’s akin to what you can see in Sword Art Online for all you anime fans out there) geekish to bursting, chock-full of references, stretching out platforms to Japanese tv shows and cultural pop phenomenon’s and of course paying a wonderful homage to everything 80’s. And I loved that. I’m a big 80’s enthusiast myself, music and movie wise, so those were 385 pages of sheer pleasure and geek-out.

All that is nicely layered on top of a dystopian future in which as a paradox opposing the societal degradation, endless possibilities exist built within what is a beastly virtual reality machinery in the face of a complex imagination-stretching world, or I should rather say universe, called the Oasis.

Throw into that mix some traditional RPG tropes, an adventure, a quest system worth billions and I think you end up with an entertaining story worth the read.


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

38447The most captivating aspect of this ageless dystopian novel is its protagonist’s point of view storytelling. I’m sure there’s no argument there. It’s akin to time traveling within the narrative without the pressure of it being labeled as sci-fi or having need of machines and quantum mechanics. And it shakes you; it pulls you down and strips you naked and often takes your breath away.

It’s kind of fitting reading it today and I’m certain we’ll be reading it tomorrow and next year and at these different times we’ll view it either as a dystopian, futuristic story, or as a historical artefact. It will be relevant at all times and it will be a pinnacle for many women as it has been thus far.

I was fascinated at how much nostalgia it carries and what strong attention it gives to these everyday “invisible” things and objects that serve as some sort of weird corner stones of our lives, of our understanding of modern and ownership. And then there’s the interaction human to human, a frivolous act that can be difficult and anxiety burdened and that usually requires a non-linear and a vastly subconscious approach and it’s destroyed in Atwood’s work. It’s brought down to absurdity. Can you imagine not having Offred’s inner thoughts, her memories? Just those orchestrated interactions, dry and suspicious? You wouldn’t even think about the layers of words and thoughts and fears that are quieted down behind “the right thing to say”.

It’s a fascinating novel and I strongly advise reading it.


Bone White by Ronald Malfi

32920015‘Bone White’ is a 2017 newbie but man, does it pack a punch! It’s what I’d say a claustrophobic novel set within the coldest, most remote parts of Alaska. Malfi deftly handles what could easily be local lore, mythology and the supernatural elements mixing it with the sudden confession of a serial killer, the discovery of numerous unmarked graves, a town called Dread’s Hand (which isn’t a far stretch cause’ Alaska has places called Red Devil, Holy Cross and Crooked Creek) and a man hell bent of finding what happened to his missing brother.

I loved’ Bone White’ and would have even if it didn’t throw in the word ‘wendigo’. As far as its wilderness exploration goes (and boy does it go far) it has that Algernon Blackwood flavor that I respect and love and fear but it does its own thing. I can’t share the lore of it without spoiling major aspects but it’s gut churning, skin crawling and worth delving into.

As with these types of novels where it’s a whodunit mixed in with a supernatural fueled thriller, the ending doesn’t disappoint. Far from it.

I highly recommend Ronald Malfi’s ‘Bone White’. It’s certainly a high contender for best horror novel.

The Ritual by Adam Nevill

12063443It’s been years of bypassing anything Nevill and I blame ‘Apartment 16’. Or maybe my mood at the time. Could be a mixture of both. But I had a hard time digesting his pacing until I gave ‘The Ritual’ a fair try.

Sure, at the start its all japes and grumbling and friendly banter but the atmosphere is tense right from the get go and it’s a miserable one. The surrounding nature is nothing equal to that described by Blackwood for example with ‘The Willows’. It’s not a direct character per say, it’s a nuisance, it’s a labyrinth and it’s a guide of sorts but it’s not the subject of the character’s direct fears. It’s what within the woods.

What I love about ‘The Ritual’ is the sense of true expedition, though one gone horribly, horribly wrong. But the hike bears all the marks that make it believable – it’s tiresome and treacherous and lonely. It however lacks that spiritual, cleansing, outdoorsy sensation and replaces it with the helplessness and hopelessness of disorientation, lack of communication and the feeling of trespassing. That on itself is terrifying and it progresses and escalates in terms of the narrative with the decreasing amount of provisions, the sustained injuries and the incessant battle with the unyielding nature. It’s barren against the human spirit, a continuing isolation far, far from civilization and yet rather close to the wrong one.

I’m happy when a novel keeps me suspicious and cautious and I love it even more when it tweaks things to that disturbing level making you me uncomfortable. ‘The Ritual’ certainly did that. I enjoyed the lurking monstrosity, was pretty on terms with the gore part, but I was mostly a fan of that religious aspect of it, of the desolate, forgotten monuments, the Nordic runes hidden within the forest’s folds. The decrepit filter on top of the base narrative is what really sold it to me. And of course the sudden shift from endless wandering and death to a very reminiscent of actual Scandinavian metal/riot history, part 2 of the book. That’s when the true Ritual begins and when the novel really tests the reader. It’s by far not the most disturbing or lacking humanity story I’ve read.

I mean there’s ‘Zombie’ and many, many more all disturbing in their own fashion, but ‘The Ritual’ being the psychological horror that it is, kept me reading way into the early hours day after day. It urges to be progressed and thus served to give me a very different opinion on Nevill’s work. He gave the novel a reality check on superstition, old, pagan beliefs and deities, brought them back under the sounds of death metal (black metal, doom metal any kind of worshiping metal. Rock on!) and he did it via Norwegian and Swedish lore risen together in an effigy of its own.


The October Faction by  Steve Niles and Damien Worm

25061099‘The October Faction’, a four-volume graphic novel is nothing particularly new on the drawn horizon, but its art done by Damian Worm is outstanding and the issues are worth checking just based on that.

It tells the story of the monster-hunting Allan family, semi-retired from the ghastly business until they are urged to get back in and this time include the children, who also possess certain abilities witching and warlocking being the main two. It’s an adventure beautifully done in browns and blues, blacks and deep yellows and dried-blood reds, dealing with the price of hiding truths and feeding lies, of soul-seeing teens, homosexuality, coming of age, purpose in life and much more craziness.

It’s the family business up-jumped aka popularized vastly by Supernatural but with refined finesse that in following issues expands and welcomes in a werewolf and a robot?

Nothing can suffice to convince to the worthy read so look at these pages I took the liberty of adding for viewing pleasure.



 Fishing the Sloe-Black River by Colum McCann

110898Life is being far away from home, being alone, being weak, being loved. It’s being afraid and caring about others. And when it’s done like an Irish lullaby, well…it’s something special. It’s very human. It’s stories you wished you knew yourself but then reading them in ‘Fishing the Sloe-Black River’ you feel like you might have been there.

There are a roulette of outstanding characters, quirky and bold, young and old. They each have unique stories.

‘Sisters’ and ‘Around the Bend and Back Again’ are favorites, I think. Tomorrow maybe others will be.




I wish you to read many more books in 2018 and share them with others. A single book can bring so much joy in someone’s life.


Carol of the Christmas Ball

They said you shouldn’t stare into the reflection in the red ornament, the glossy surface dimming the room lights but amplifying the image, the mouth-gaping silhouette. So, naturally but superstitiously silly my hand trembles holding the apple-size red ball, polished plastic, cheap and fragile, thinking who “they” are supposed to be to say things like that.

I place it central, hang it there to drink in the light and I pay it no more mind preparing dinner, settling in for the festivity, the food and caroling and presents and bad jokes, the cat under the table meowing for a piece of turkey.

But then I catch myself catching an image still lingering there inside the ball like a smoke ghost, an imprint on the inside of it made to look like me. So I call for my husband, “Come look at this, it’s a most uncanny thing” and then when nobody comes I turn around and my house is in shambles, a dystopian image brick for brick like a tornado swept through it while I wasn’t watching and left me and the tree, spruce five foot nine standing there, me dumbfounded and it close to discoloration, no lights, no golden star at the top. What remains is a jagged piece from that red spherical ornament. A vacant half to which I have to find the missing one to make it whole again, to return home.

I take it off and keep it enclosed careful not to grind it between eager palms and turn it to dust, and I step through what once, when once was the wall of my living room and trespass onto the street close in resemblance to the semi-interior of my demolished house. And I hear caroling though there’s no “Carol of the Bells”, no “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or “O Come Emmanuel”.

They from behind missing walls and smoke curtained corners sing of a different spirit, a true ghost haunting the skies with his phantom carriage, transfixed by his holy unending duty every Christmas month and year and century. I listen to that chorus depicting him as a wandering soul unable to break for eons and eons from a perpetual sacrifice, starting with the dawn and ending out of breath and dead by dusk, an empty bag and skeleton thin reindeer, tired and old and gasping, red tongues darting out of steaming muzzles.

I jerk around and run away from the whispers of the carollers, the wispy voices effortlessly carried through the empty air. In this place so much like my own home and then so different I catch a glimpse at that sprite and he is neither jolly, nor bright, nor laughing. He is gaunt and tall and his red coat, overlong and tattered is worn out, pinkish with time. He walks through thin air with heavy footsteps, descending upon a hollowed rooftop, his body transparent between wall and wall. And he places a long-fingered hand inside the depthless pockets of his coat and pulls out a simple toy, damaged by time but precious and places it in the empty spot where a pine or spruce or fir should be. Then he leaves a little more exhausted, I can see.

I call after him like a child, like I haven’t done in years and years and when he turns before me, taller than a tree and I see his sunken eyes, black as coals and button-shaped, the roundness of them not matching the fake sagging layer of his anemic body. I stare at the creases of his elongated, sharp face, deep by age and cracked by the cold like fjords running along the pastiness of his skin half-hidden by matted white locks. But I show him my red ball like how it is in half, jagged edges and hollow. Do I say please or does he know it, because his face pains, grimaces and frowns.

“I don’t belong here,” I say, telling him I don’t want to either. I offer the ball and hold it there and I don’t think he sees me. For a moment I panic, stranded and abandoned and I imagine growing old here with the carollers in forever winter white this giant visiting abandonment as a promise or a punishment, trying to return some light and joy to it. I tremble, visibly shake with incoming sobs or it’s the cold finally creeping in.

He looks at me, the red coated man, this forgotten saint and he reaches inside the folds of his being. Pinched between two thin digits he offers me wordlessly the other half of my red ornament. I eagerly bring mine closer to fit in the edges and glue together another kind of reality away from the loneliness this alteration exists from.

Then my husband is right behind me saying “what did you want to show me” and “I’ll go check on the oven and the turkey” and I nod, focused on something else outside his voice.

The red ball is polished and complete, the tiniest crack visible only to me, like a hair splitting me from him, his image lingering in there filling the entire space but then it’s gone and later on I sneak into the living room when the house is quiet. I weep silently for some time watching the ball in the darkness.

The Witch’s House


Tender steps. Hand loosely than harshly grasping the rail. Splinters entering the softness of the cold palms. Cold with sweat. Cold with the stickiness so common in fear. Eliot is afraid and that feeling is making his insides freeze. They cheated him into this, his friends, hiding behind the trees, feet rustling in the fallen leaves, no footprints just imprints, the heaviness of their bodies leaving a mark they were there before they run off leaving him with the shortness of their laughter whispery and frail, reverberating in the October chilliness. They called him a faggot, a pussy, a piece of good-for-nothing shit when he didn’t want to go into the Witch’s House, barking the word on repeat.

So Eliot went, not wanting to be anything, anyone but himself. He didn’t want to be scared of their mockery. And as he went up the steps, she came out after hearing the creaks and pops and breathing of the house. With her came the sort of sound wind makes through abandonment, through foreign cracks, alien and old with time and poised with things – words and noises, music bumping on and off, voices and wet eyes watching. With truths kept secret and identities hidden underneath layers of skin that gets pulled and teased and worn until it rips open and the truth oozes out. Like the wind slipping through, a whistle at a time.

‘Do you know what she does, the Witch?’ they asked him when they were all playfully pursuing paths in the forest. ‘She takes your skin away, peeling it with her claws and she wraps it around herself like a cloth. She wears you and you see and hear and feel everything she does. The Witch is fat with the skins of children.’

Standing before Eliot, she was pregnant with the promise of their words. She was layered, folds of smooth skin, colorless and colorful overlapping in the form of shirts and skirts but leaving her naked all the same. There was however one lie to their story and he saw it as she bend over, faceless yet seeing. He wouldn’t see, nor hear nor feel anything she did with his skin after she took it. He would be just another corpse, neatly hidden somewhere. The empty eye sockets, red around the rims of their flesh stared at Eliot emptily devoid of that essence remaining in them that his friends spoke off through puffs of smoke from that shared packet of cigarettes and splashes of stolen beer.

However them having run off meant they would never see or hear the Witch leading him inside a damp and dark room, floor littered with syringes, the pungent smell of piss soaking the walls, the corners. In there she would unfold her face and allow a glimpse at her eyes merging that in-between, outwordly feeling Eliot had standing on her doorstep. She would look at him as her teeth emerge and she lowers her mouth onto his pinky finger, delicately separating skin and meat from the bone. Eliot would watch the Witch chew the soft redness and churn the skin, stretching it with her tongue, modeling it to her own being.

Then she would leave him there, a boy with a skeleton pinky finger trembling in his own pooling piss and she would rustle the leaves with her draping skin to find the friends which left him at her doorstep and ran off with their flesh pink from the October cold.

She of the Glades


‘Hold your body down’

The smell of ropes soaks into my fingertips; in the back, the wispy smoke of that shared cigarette lingers, the ghosts of deceased words shared between us persistent within the unfurling folds of grey and milky. My sunglasses reflect what’s left of you but it’s quickly wrapped, a tight concealment brought into the confines of the trunk.

A sun sets, but it is not the one I wanted and not the one you saw; auburn and bloodshot spill across the sky dipping into the outstretched body of the Glades; a watery field on fire.

I drive towards that forlorn watery front, a swamp system spawning black mosquitos and hungry eyes. No airboats sail today, it’s bad weather down here, tropical and what not; there will be wake and there’s things down below the still murky green that don’t like to be disturbed. My shirt glues to my restless body, sweat creating creases in the fabric drenching them with my own stench covering that of your quick deterioration in the heat. Blood, urine and you permeating my close proximity air fill my nostrils, a delirium of memories. The coffee mug leaving a crescent stain on the newspaper right over the ads – a waitress wanted, 7 bucks an hour; a counselor needed in an orphanage, at least a two year experience in the field. The low buzz of the washing machine from the other room. The smell of detergent sharp on the tongue and eyes. The shuffle of clothes being folded. You, humming along with the radio, stopping when I come in.

I unfurl the beige tarpaulin hiding the red rusted airboat, leather seats grey and brown with time, sun and use. Paddle and legwork push us into the sleeve, the rope dropping from my fingers, me letting go of whatever remains on the shore, forever.

The propeller drills repetition into my brain, but it’s a soothing sound because I dislike quiet. You were always quiet with me. Silent stares, muffled touches, unspoken actions. The only time you weren’t mute at me was at your mother’s funeral.

‘Thaddeus’, you said, ‘I don’t want none of this when I go. It’s too fucking glorifying.’

We’re trespassing now going opposite to the tourist routs where it’s common feeding Cheetos to baby gators and taking photos of their fast blinking reptilian orange, faking indifference but secretly wishing you to decide swimming is not prohibited. We pass abandonment, a village echoing with the calls of a dead language, a totem pole faded with time watching over the waters, a black eagle head with spread wooden wings in rusty red stares with missing eyes.

The trees, tall skeleton branches soaking feet into the swamp body connect above my head, interlocking, clasping one another. The dome is complete and it forms a tunnel of darkness spilling into an inviting light. I rev the boat, growing impatient and tired, the heat sticking to my body, humidity dangerously high. But my boat goes nowhere near the light – I dream of it, I can reach it back later when I drop you off where you belong.

I take a narrow passage and slow down through. Unmarked gator territory comes ahead, the glades moving with the sway of their heavy bodies, indistinguishable green on green. I catch their eyes however, yellow and glowing above the water. They follow us as we slug through, impatient, a gentle rock of their tails transferring to my boat, tilting it.

I shift the stick and urge the propeller to prowl faster, creating a wake small enough to push the hunger away from their eyes and bellies. In the stillness that follows I hug your body close, faceless remembering you without seeing. I give you to their open maws and you sink quickly between their fighting masculinity.

I am done. You are placed. Caught in the narrowness I can’t turn back, my palms sweaty and calloused. There’s a hoot whistling through the village, the clack of alligator teeth swaying from necklaces tied on dried, sunburned necks. A pouch spills tiny sharp biters, rattling on the wooden pier, currency for the dead. I look below and see you dancing their dance, a share of power transferring within the heat of their beating drums, hardened feet thumping the ground. A large one breaks the water, his head smashing against the boat.  

Your presence encourages them; they smell me too, the dead on me, the flesh spoiling in the sun coated in salty sweat and they want none to waste; they want the whole of me, to devour to tear apart. Now there are four of them, oily and long, chameleon like appearing, rocking the side of the airboat. I swat with the paddle, connecting plastic to bone, and a mouth snaps open quick and deadly tearing the paddle away from my hands. I am defenseless against the onslaught, bodies in multitude slamming against the dented. It capsizes and I fall where they are, where you are, the drums and them in a frenzy escalating to a screech. It stops. I watch.

They’ve went for you first, easier, quicker. The fabric of the canvas has torn open and limbs are poking through. I forgot you were wearing that dress. You didn’t even try it on in the store, you knew it would fit you the way it did. Funny how you never wore it for me. It matched your eyes. Now its paler, colors washed away and again it matches the rot in your eyes. Your body swims towards me, the matted hair pulled down heavy with the thick water. Your arm outstretches, ‘Thaddeus’, you call me without moving your lips, ‘Come swim with me’.

You watch me as I try to break the water, vault myself back into the boat. An alligator is upon me pulling me back in, my arm inside its mouth. It gnaws where the bone turns, the joint fragile under its pressure. I feel the tissue break, the skin raw over torn meat. The muscle slides free off the bone of my left forearm and an abrupt, wild snap detaches it free. I don’t scream but merely gasp and swamp water washes over my teeth. I no longer seek rescue within the boat; I watch as the blood, darker in these sunless waters float towards you, your lips blue and bloated sucking it in a spiral.

Another hungry servant plunges itself towards me, right humerus tearing free, ragdoll like. You grow impatient, you want more. Teeth sink into my right calf loosening another limb; teeth bite down through my left kneecap exploding it with a violent pull. Mutilated I sink further while you drink the rest of me, they feeding on the flesh, you on the essence.

Color and vigor attach to your skin. Your eyes blink; a motion registered and carried through your entire system. I remember your eyes closing in pacific self-prayer when you pulled on that smoke I forbid you to have; a small exhale rising and falling your chest to meet the onslaught of what I said.

I die at the bottom of the marsh with that thought of the last time you and me were both alive, the Glades taking me in as they’ve taken others during the centuries, their bones crushed to dust by the propellers of airboats jumping the waters above. I know others will follow me, jealous and angry and lonely and loving and you’ll sink them all when the drums start playing ghost-like through the village. You will feed and provide for the deal your dead soul did, dancing the gator dance respectfully.

I take one last look at you floating above me, your skin translucent. A smile is spreading across your lips as I become motionless food. I don’t think I ever saw that smile before.


The L/Wake

The first of our team we sent down the stream into the lake was Arthur. He’d died just before the turn of the shifts and McKenna had found him half sunken in a radioactive pocket a 100 feet from the claw cyclotron and the furnace. The feed showed us he’d stupidly crossed the threshold marked by the red indicators but there had been a low rolling mist so his visuals were probably obscured. He always complained he was sweating too much inside his suit when near the furnace. We were extracting Astatine in those days.

I am reminded of this because now, seven years later I am standing by a different lake in spring, some immeasurable hours before a person I know or knew is to be lowered into the ground. It seems foreign to me this ritual of returning to soil. What they return has not been given by the earth but nonetheless they ground a vessel empty of what was vital, they anchor it so it would remain there as a return point for them in years to come. There is a hint of love in that, a melancholic one. Later, when I stand beside the casket set deep within the grasp of wet and wormy dirt, I might admire the boundaries the earth creates around it, because I know it will be there forever and I know that each time I venture to the cemetery and search for its marker, the grey gravestone, I would produce a set of memories. They would be different each time and I would be sad or happy thinking back to them. I would speak as if to the rotting skeleton hidden underneath the heaviness of unspoiled earth an in my mind it would speak to me and I would see the person it once was. It’s almost a luxury now that I think about it.

On another mission years before the Astatine one a colleague had been struck by a metal tube cracking his visor. In his confusion he’d detached himself from the line and had floated into deep space within a hands reach of his anchored partner. There are many ways to describe a body floating slowly, unreachably away, arms and legs flailing, the lack of oxygen after the backup compartment has been emptied coloring his cheeks purple and blue. He disappears fast, the rotation of his body engulfed by distance and darkness. It’s happens in quiet. Within moments there is no marker that he’d ever been present with us. No grave to return to, to mourn and talk to.

There are swans in this lake. I don’t know if they come because of the quiet or the ludicrous amount of bread crumbs the keeper feeds them from a plastic bag. We are an ordinary occurrence to him fumbling with words of condolences and thin alcohol glasses held between slippery fingers. The house behind me is unsteady with grieving voices, the occasional hoarse laughter. You can hear the tears in the dialogues, a common tongue with different nuances to it. There are trays neatly arranged with food almost like a cocktail party. Everyone takes small bites from the small pieces chewing through grief or sheer uncertainty as to what else to do. A wake is a time when people form a bond through the sharing of stories. I’ve heard most of them that they were willing to share. The stories are all the best ones and they gathered together faces that would intentionally avoid one another. The body rests in the middle of all, oblivious. It’s quiet within it.

“Soren, come inside you’ll freeze out here. It’s bollocks weather.”

Greggory, my brother in his thin rental suit, is shivering by the door of the house, cheeks red from the brush with the wind. When I returned home, I had a difficult time remembering how to accept the wind against my skin. On Epos the wind is almost non-existent, a planet that was initially audible with barely a whisper.

 When we pulled Arthur out we had to decontaminate the body if we were to bring it home with us. A stage of necrosis had begun on his lower torso and after twelve hours muscles in the lax body had become animated. There were frowns all around, a shared unfamiliarity with the side effects at play. The reaction reminded me of the work of some endoparasite sparking extra neurotransmitters in its host. I wonder of the creatures co-existing with poisonous gases, living in the deep dark of the pockets.

“What about the lake?” Alexandria asked when we gathered huffing and puffing in the heavy red hazmat suits.

“What about it?” McKenna mumbled. He’d been staring at the chamber where Arthur’s spasmodic body lay on the med tray. We had quarantined that section of the base in the first hours.

“We could put the body there.”

It was my suggestion picking up on Alexandria’s unspoken wish. The lake was like a biodegrading organism. The substance in it wasn’t water, it was heavier, the color of molten silver and the first truly alien material we encountered on Epos. We’d taken probes to distill but the samples evaporated too fast, a process of a hybrid hard and liquid state to gas in the matter of minutes. It existed solely as one. I knew it would chew right through Arthur’s suit down to the bones leaving no skeleton. It had done that to our equipment when we first tried dipping a camera. It’s only honest to admit that our tech was far too primitive for what was on Epos. Aside from our digging and extracting mission we didn’t tamper with anything else.

“What bullshit are we going to sell to the Mother Base? Because you know they’d be sticking their noses in this.” Janeck was Arthur’s bunk buddy. “They’ll ask about reason of death. They’d want it entered in the system and the body shipped back with the first batch.”

I knew what to tell them, what to lie. The return of the body was going to kickstart an investigation into the nature of the parasite and our work was going to be hindered, the company hiring us was going to lose millions of credits and we our jobs unless another contractor took us in risking we were carriers of some virus out of deep space. The Mother Base was going to send Specialists and they were going to close down Epos marking it a red zone. Quarantine. But after they saw the lake for what it was, I knew they would try to drain it. So I lied.

Later, the supervisor of the second extraction team on the other side of Epos, Piermont contacted me. One of his crew had suffocated in his suit after failing to secure his gear. After leaving the body in the med bay it too had reanimated to an extent correlating to Arthur’s case. Fewer hours though. Six or seven to the twelve we had with Arthur. I remember asking whether they had a lake on their side.

“A big silvery one, yeah. Nero nearly lost his fingers trying to stir it, the damned fool. I don’t think it’s actually a lake, more like a spill from something.”

“Put the body there, suit and all.”

It was that simple. Like we had sent Arthur down the thin sleeve of the silver river and watched the lake rise up to catch him and drag him down into a grave of sorts, below that reflectionless liquid to be anchored in a way. In a way through this returned to origins belonging to something else, a ritual mimicking that which I’m attending now. Funerals don’t differ much from one another as long as there is a place. It made Epos that, a waypoint to return to like a person returns home and goes to visit those who are no longer there.

I place my hand around Greg’s shoulder and let him take me back inside.

Inside the cave lived a Fox – Chapter 4, Part 2

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3


Their eagerness to know more transfused into Neave. She allowed herself a deeper breath, eyes not meeting eyes, hers into the distant where the memory existed.

“The man who lived in that house over there told it to me.” Neave pointed at the smallest of the three houses, a green door marking it. “When I asked why he would want to hurt a hungry fox he asked me ‘what do you think the fox eats, little girl?’ and I said ‘chickens of course what else’.” Neave reached for Ambrose’s cigarette, an old habit calling back, and took a drag that jimmied open her throat clogged with difficult memories. He received it back with a twinkle in his eye.

“That man was not nice, I recall that. He laughed at me but when I tried to run away he grabbed my arm and took me inside his house. ‘Do you want to know the truth about your precious fox?’ he asked. His breath stank of alcohol and milk, his hands of gunpowder and dirt. But I wanted to know. I wanted to.”

She looked at them, Ambrose eager to hear, Sierra eager to see.

“He told me a long time ago just after the first houses were built near the river ill luck befell the people and the village. It desolated most of it and the elder stricken with grief, took a rope and headed to the oak tree to hang himself. When he got there a man wearing a fox skin was sitting under it roasting a chicken leg on a tiny fire. He talked the elder out of suicide and shared his chicken with him while the elder told him of their predicament. After hearing all, the stranger offered a solution. He told the elder that if they dined him with the finest meal tonight, tomorrow the sick would be healed and the crops would be rich again and if they gave him one girl after her first blood every autumn the village would flourish and expand and fill with the riches of the earth. They would be kings among the hills.”

“The elder agreed and in the morning when he returned to the village what the stranger had promised had come true. Come autumn the man in the fox skin came for the first girl just as he’d promised he would. The villagers were angry with the elder and how he’d hidden the truth from them. Dealing with demons and spirits…they called him a witch and butchered him. The demon took his girls despite everything, sneaking in the night soft as a whisper, quiet as a fox.” Neave inclined her head towards the green door of the small house. “I was so little, couldn’t be more than six. After I heard the story I wanted to cry but the man just laughed. ‘It’ll happen to you too! The man in the fox skin will come to take you and make you his whore you little bitch.’ I snuck past him and didn’t leave our house for days.”

“What a fucking weirdo. I’m so sorry, Neave. That must have been horrible,” Sierra sighed.

“Did it come? Did he come for you?”

Neave watched Ambrose, his unblinking stare piercing.

Sierra’s eyes widened. “Ambrose! Don’t be an asshole!”

She wanted to tell him, she wanted to be sure. The mark of something held in her hand returned and she flexed her digits tickling at her palm and the pressure there. Her mouth was dry, the red dirt carried in the wind crunching beneath her teeth.

A distant almost indistinguishable cry pierced her ears.

“Did you hear that?” Sierra asked and she swiftly ran down the stone steps and back to the yard where it was darker. The narrow light from her phone’s flashlight provided indication as to where she was.

“Inside the cave lived a Fox,” Neave whispered staring at the jagged rock.

 “Why isn’t it marked on the map, the cave?” Ambrose asked.

“It’s so people don’t go there.” Neave said listening to the cry. It was a woman crying, a child screaming, a person wailing in agony. It was a horrible sound and it chased away all other noise present in the vanishing daylight – the sound of night approaching through the trees making them sway as it came.


Ambrose joined Sierra adding to the stretch of yellow glow. He clutched his hunting rifle and aimed it at the approaching darkness.

Chapter 5

Portland sunsets and a Brass Automaton: An Interview with D. Paul Angel

d_paulangelIn the breaking days of a new indie novella blending Snow White with The Terminator and placing them in a steampunk world, I talked to one of its authors about what it takes to write, about trials and life and dreams, about books and authors that inspire, about his amazing photography skills, about the future and what excitement lies there and of course about Brass Automaton, including a neat little sneak peek behind the scenes! Paul offers very healthy thoughts about the self-publishing scene and delivers some fantastic links to things he loves and respects, so I urge you to check them on the way to knowing who D. Paul Angel is and why you should be on the lookout for his name.

Tell me about your journey in becoming a writer. Was there a particular moment or event that turned you to writing? What was the first story you published online about?

I have enjoyed writing since I was in elementary school.  I loved coming up with stories and letting my imagination run wild.  What I did not like, was having to go back through and correct my work.  So as I was going through the editing, I would cut significant portions of the story during the revisions just to avoid having to copy it over again.  I should add that this was well before personal computers, so everything was written in longhand, with the rough draft in pencil and the final in pen.

We would also have to draw a picture to go with our story, which I also enjoyed, but I would be far too ambitious in my drawing so I would have to rush to finish that too, because by this time all my friends would already be outside playing.  Priorities!  It’s interesting looking back and realizing that I still enjoy the initial flurry of writing significantly more than the tedious work of revising.  (I’m sure I’m totally alone in that too!)  And, more importantly, that my biggest weakness continues to be follow through.  I’m getting there, but I’m still learning the discipline required for the revising (and revising and revising) needed to continue improving.

Which brings us to the first story I ever posted online: Dagger of Delphi It is about the daughter of an oppressive King who is deeply affected by the suffering of her people, and must ultimately choose whether or not to take the throne herself.  Or something like that.  Truth be told I winced reading it, and I’m not wholly sure I even understand what my intentions were.  That being said, I posted it 11 years ago now, and I have grown substantially as both a writer and a person since then.

How do you go about your writing? Do you have a specific place? 

I have desk in my room where I now do most of my writing.  I have had mixed success over the years writing on the couch with my laptop.  It works pretty well for editing, especially with Netflix, but it can be distracting writing first drafts.  So I’m steadily learning how to set aside time every day to write, and make use of the writing space that I have.  It is, again, part of the growing process.

That being said I do some of my best writing in coffee shops, pubs, and Thai restaurants.  I invested in a cheap Chromebook, and it has been great for this- just pure word to page.  There is something to be said for being alone amongst people, and letting the myriad of conversations and crowd’s energy blend into a gentle hum of background noise.  Since I live in Portland, I’m blessed by a stupidly huge number of amazing coffee shops and pubs.  There’s just something about the ritual of writing while enjoying a drink that’s inspiring.  Thai also has a certain magic to it which I discovered quite by accident over lunch.  The heat in the peppers made me eat it slow, and it ended up creating a rhythm between the writing and the eating.  So now I mix in a couple Thai restaurants amongst the pubs and coffee shops.

Outside of writing who is D. Paul Angel? I know you do a lot of photography aside from writing, so is there a particular mood you like to capture and set with your photos? 

As with most of the other writers I’ve been fortunate enough to meet online, I have a dayjob that pays the bills and takes up most of my time.  I’ve been in the legal field as a paralegal for 15 years now.  My specialty is supporting trials and I have gotten pretty good at it.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that trials tend to be all consuming in both time and energy.  Trials can last anywhere from a couple days to several weeks, and the prepping takes even longer.  So when I am working on a large case my ability to write is hugely diminished.  That being said, while trials are exhausting, and mentally draining, they’re still rewarding over all.

Because of the work I do, I have always been vague about my professional career, but I’ve been happy to share most of my creative side online.  The writing is a huge part of that, with my photography being the other significant part of my repertoire.  With my photos I find myself drawn to capturing transitions, textures, light, and scale.  I’ve come to find that there is a lot of beauty throughout the world, even in the most familiar of places and things.  I have uploaded quite a few of my shots to Flickr, and I have been posting a lot on Instagram  too.  Flickr is all the shots from my DSLR, (a Canon T3 for the camera nerds in the audience) so they are higher quality and “bigger” scenes.  My Instagram shots are captured with my phone, so they are “smaller” scenes, and are definitely more found shots, as opposed to the shots on Flickr which I’ve sought out.

In 2016 I made the jump to selling my photos as a member of the Three Rivers Artist Guild in Oregon City, just outside of Portland, Oregon.  While I only had a modicum of commercial success, I learned quite a bit in the process.  I certainly would have liked to have sold more, but my sales did ultimately cover my costs of printing and such.  I even turned a bit of a profit, though only just enough to buy a large coffee, instead of a small.  I’ll sell in the gallery again this year too, and will start selling cards in addition to prints.

Finally, while I don’t have one definitively favorite photo, almost all of my favorite photos are either on my prints page, or my cards page.

Tell me about Brass Automaton. It looks really amazing and that cover art is just fantastic. I read the final, complete version in a heartbeat and I loved it. How did that start and where is it today? 

Brass Automaton was a fantastic experience.  I met Mark through #FridayFlash posts a few years back. He wrote a stream of consciousness story called Beginnings , which he wasn’t sure what to do with.  I volunteered to write the sequel, Overboard, and then he and others picked it up and it became the Beginnings Project.  I wasn’t able to contribute anymore to that story, but we stayed friends via blog posts and Twitter.  Then out of the blue he emailed me about a story he had just written called Brass Automaton.  He had rolled a pair of dice against a table of stories to determine which pair he would do a mashup of.  The luck of the dice gave him Snow White and Terminator, which I found both hilarious and awesome.  So when he asked if I’d be interesting in co-authoring it with him and I jumped at it.


“This story happened when His Majesty was still a young man, a huntsman to be precise. It is the tale of a clockwork machine from the future, with a mission to terminate His Majesty to prevent him from meeting his future queen.” Jarvis paused for effect. “Then, she was known only as Snow White.” – Overview for Brass Automaton

We started with us alternating a couple chapters each, but we deliberately had very little communication between postings.  It quickly turned into the writing equivalent of, “Hold my beer and watch this!”  We tried to one up each other with each chapter, but more in terms of showing off than writing the other into corners.  Ultimately, it was all about trying to make it as good as possible, and pushing each other to get there.  At the time I was never expecting we would publish it, (or that anyone would enjoy it so much!) so I wrote with absolute abandon.  It was incredibly fun to write and I’m looking forward to starting on the sequel in the Spring.  This time, however, we’re going to collaborate more and make the chapters flow together more smoothly.

The cover art was all Mark.  He’s got some mad Photoshop skills and put the whole thing together.  It turned out beautifully and I have had a lot of people tell me how much they like it.  (I know Mark is already thinking about the sequel’s cover too!)

How did the experience of collaborating with another writer feel? 

Collaborating with Mark was great.  He’s very easy going but a driven writer, which I needed.  I tend to write in fits and spurts, and have struggled with getting word to page on a daily, consistent basis.  Mark was a huge encouragement, and having him drop his chapters, so rapidly meant I couldn’t procrastinate on mine.  Beyond just originating the story, this project wouldn’t have happened without him, let alone getting it published.

Was it a challenge to create the Brass Automaton universe? Were there any bumps on the road, did you have a lot of different opinions as to how to build up the world and the characters?

The biggest bumps in the road for us came from external sources.  Work and life take a toll when writing isn’t your main support, and we were both hit with extra busy times outside of writing.  We had actually written through about 2/3 of it when we hit our respective walls, and nothing more was done on it for some months.  Then Mark got over his wall, and was inspired again.  I was knee deep in trials at the time, so when he asked if I was cool with him finishing Brass Automaton I didn’t hesitate giving him carte blanche to finish.

The closest thing to a conflict we had was after I finished my second set of chapters.  I thought it was a great ending point, so wrote what I thought was an excellent setup for Mark’s ultimate finish.  I emailed him and told him what I was doing and he did the electronic equivalent of laughing before turning my “climax” into a battle creating far more story to explore.

Which was your favorite character to write in Brass Automaton?

My favorite characters were the Dwarfs.  I got a text from a good friend about their names along the lines of “King Odc? Pypha?  Really!?”  He laughed though when I explained that I hadn’t expected to be published when I wrote it, so I just used anagrams for the Dwarves names. I did the same thing with other names too, like Tenycks for Skynet, or Rennoc Woods which is Conner backwards.  Mark, of course, just took it in stride and ran with it.

My favorite character ended up being Poedy (Dopey of course!).  He had fulfilled the role of comedy relief quite well, and then I gave him a uniquely grim backstory, which also explained his lack of beard.  The chapter where this all comes to a head is my favorite in the book, but I’m deeply biased since it’s one of my best pieces of writing so far.

What do you think a story like Brass Automaton brings to the world of self-publishing today? It’s quite unique, a very rich mixture of fables, time travel and an industrial revolution, plus it manages to create a very feministic atmosphere in an era where it did not exist, so I’m curious how do you think it places in the world of fiction today.

I often read Whatever which is the personal blog of John Scalzi,  a moderately successful SciFi author.  And by “moderate” I mean standard bearer of the industry!  He knows the publishing industry better than anyone else I regularly read, and his first book, Old Man’s War, was originally self-published too.  The biggest thing I have taken away from his insights is how there is far, far more I don’t know about both self publishing and traditional publishing than I do know.

I think Brass Automaton especially is too unique to ever be picked up by traditional publishers, but it’s still a great story that self-publishing has allowed us to share. 

So what I offer here is based on my own, admittedly limited experiences, and I’m sure Dunning-Kruger will be watching me closely.

Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey (the latter of which started life as fan fiction of the former) are both, for lack of a better word, awful.  They are also awfully successful, which reinforces that quality is not necessarily an indicator of success, though I’m talking about their literary quality more so than their technical quality.  In other words, I’m sure they were correctly formatted, typo free, etc., even though their content was lacking (IMNSHO…).  But they obviously resonated with a large audience and were hugely successful from a financial perspective, so when I look at traditional publishing I see that not all variables are equal, nor are they dependent.

A brilliant story with fresh ideas and amazing characters that’s submitted with typos, randomly mixed fonts, and inconsistent formatting isn’t going to make it far enough along to be read to see the gem within the rough rock.  On the flip side, a submission that is technically flawless is likely to pass onto the next step, even if it is more mediocre than not.  Personally I’d think the first example is far easier to work with than the second, but typos have been the bane of my writing since forever, so I may biased.  (Fun fact: Spellcheck’s biggest influence on me has been to make ever newer and more creative spelling errors.)

Ultimately though, traditional publishing is a business which drives financial concerns to take precedence over creative quality.  This is true throughout the entertainment spectrum, which is why we have Transformers movie ever third summer even though its budget could pay for 10+ original, creatively stunning smaller movies- because ultimately far more people will pay to see Transformers than they would to see our 10 odd theoretically awesome movies- combined.  Traditional publishing, as far as I have seen, is no different.

Self-publishing though is an entirely different animal.  There are a lot of people who were rejected by traditional publishers, for very good reasons, who are now flooding Amazon with their works, making it increasingly difficult to find good works amongst the crap.  There are also “books” on the marketplace which are literally gibberish or collections of wikipedia pages as a means of gaming Amazon’s payment schedules.  Needless to say, this makes for a lot more noise than signal.

The reward of self-publishing though is that signal.  It gives a voice and allows an audience to works that would never be seen otherwise.  I think Brass Automaton especially is too unique to ever be picked up by traditional publishers, but it’s still a great story that self-publishing has allowed us to share.  One of the websites I frequent is fark.com, and they have a weekly thread for writers.  They put together an anthology called Heart of Farkness which I helped a teeny, tiny bit on.  The stories vary between great and amazing, and its another example of being able to share stories with the world that would otherwise go unread.

For all the troubles in the world, we live in a Golden Age of arts.  We have the ability to share books, photos, music, movies, and more across the entire world.  You and I live over 6 thousand miles away and yet we have been sharing and enjoying each others works for years now.  That isn’t just unprecedented in human history, it’s truly beautiful.  If ever there was a mechanism for peace and understanding amongst so many diverse cultures it’s this sharing of our artistic souls.  That’s a bit too optimistic, perhaps, but I have seen in my own life that Love beats Hate, and being able to share our own loves makes the world that much better.

What is the Emoji Raiting Guide?

One of the things that I have wanted to do with my blog is give my thoughts on movies, TV shows, and other things that catch my interest.  I started with the old, traditional star rating from 0-4 stars.  I know most ratings are now from 1-5 stars, but there are some efforts out there for which even a single star is too much!  As I started working with it though, I found that the number of stars wasn’t really indicative of my thoughts.  Zero stars are easy.  Same with four, but what differentiates a one from a two, or a two from a three?  Instead I came up with my own emoji ratings.

This way I could break things up into what I think are more helpful categories.  It helps differentiate between something you’ll be happy to see versus something that you should absolutely see.  On the lowest end it also helps distinguish between the bad, and the so bad its awfulness angers my blood and makes baby Jesus cry.  Where it really helps though is in the middle ground.  Those things which are flawed, but still worthwhile, versus those things which are basically more flaw than not.  It also allows me to differentiate why something is bad, helping to explain whether it just failed completely, or if it was bad because of poor decisions.

I’m always on the hunt for fresh titles and so are many of the people who come across this blog. What book recommendations do you have for us? 

My current read is The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World’s Most Amazing Number by Mario Livio.  (It’s a loaner from @ganymeder, another friend from the #FridayFlash world and twitterverse, and yet another reminder of the amazing connections our world now offers.)  The books traces the history of phi, one of those magical irrational numbers like pi, only it is seen far more in patterns.  It’s been a great read so far, and I’ve been really enjoying nerding out on it.

I tend to oscillate between fiction and non-fiction reading, with the bulk of my reading being done on the bus to and from work.  I just finished a re-read of Harry Potter, which reminded me once again  that J.K. Rowling is truly a God amongst mortals.  After I finish The Golden Ratio I’m going to read Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars trilogy.  It’s basically the Star Wars movies written as Elizabethian plays, and I’m really looking forward to it.  When I’m done I’m going to share them with a theater friend of mine to see if they want to try and and produce them.

In addition to all this, I want to start making a concerted effort to read more self-published books, and in particular read more works from women and minorities.  I had never thought about how white male centric almost all of our popular culture is because, well, I’m a white male.  I have never lacked for representation, and I have now come to see how vitally important it is.  (And another way to bring our cultures together too!)  There were three things that really brought this to life for me, with the first being the work and studying my ex-wife (and still dear friend) was doing on social justice issues.  It has really opened my eyes to so many of the inequalities that I had previously been so blissfully unaware of.

Then, with these thoughts percolating there was a post on Scalzi’s Whatever blog about reading only women and minority authors for a year.  In thinking on it I realized just how white, male centric my reading had been.  It was driven home even more I had a story idea that I was thinking of writing as an Epic Poem.  To stay true to the form I wanted to write a prologue as a sonnet asking my muses for guidance.  In a clever twist I decided to have my muses be the authors who had most influenced my own writing.  As I began compiling the list, I realized they were all white males.  While there’s no disputing that Asimov, Adams, Heinlein, Voltaire, and so on were deeply talented and influential, the Venn Diagram of their worldviews is basically a circle.  So, I’m (finally) learning how reading authors from with diverse backgrounds, and significantly different knowledge and experiences than me, can greatly help to expand my horizons.

While we’re on the subject of books which book and why is your all-time favorite? 

As for ye olde “book on a desert island” question.  My all time favorite book series is Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  It is insightful, funny, and uniquely imaginative.  We lost a rare gift with Adams’ passing all too soon, but his works have influenced me far more than anyone else.  To tie this all together, I’d share one of my favorite insights of Adams’, from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, since it is such a fantastic metaphor for privilege.  It’s one of the opening scenes in which the Electric Monk is on a horse lost in his own world of thoughts, while the horse is only thinking about the Monk, setting up a line about the difference in thoughts between when you are being sat upon. And not.

Are there any new projects you’re working on right now or looking forward to?

Always!  I have far more ideas than I do time or, realistically, ability right now.  I’ve already talked with Mark about the sequel to Brass Automaton and we’ve agreed to start writing this March, and we’re going to forego the oneupmanship in favor of stronger collaboration.  We’ll still alternate a pair of chapters at a time, but we’re going to work out the major plot points ahead of time and talk about things as we go so we to make the chapters flow better on top of everything else.

I’m also working on my own SciFi adventure novella. It desperately needs some rewriting, but I think its story is both unique and intriguing (though I may be biased).  Ultimately I think I’ll be able to forge a larger story from it that would span 4 novellas altogether (give or take).  But, I have to take one step at a time and get this one finished first.

I also have a humorous short story I’ve been working on that was originally submitted, and rightly rejected, from the 2016 Heart of Farkness anthology.  I’ve improved it considerably since then and it’s just about done.

I’ve also been doing some beta-reading and editing work of late too.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to see what needs attention, and how to fix it, in other people’s works than it is in your own!  One of the books I edited is going to be published this summer.  It’s a history Boeing’s 737, written by a friend of mine who flies them for Southwest Airlines.  It was challenging, but a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to reading the finished book.

Down the road I have a couple ideas that I think would make great Graphic Novels.  The first is a humorous SciFi story idea which is the one I was originally thinking of writing as an Epic Poem.  I really do think it will do better in a graphic format.  It’s open ended and is driven by a cast of diverse, quirky characters who must save the world by going from quest to quest to quest.  It also makes use of the venerable Greek Chorus structure as an added bonus (thought they’ll simultaneously be affecting the story and breaking the Fourth Wall).

The other story idea is closed, and far more serious in nature.  It’s all the more important now too in light of how fake news stories affected voters in our last election here in the US (and Brexit too apparently).  It explores that our reality is necessarily framed by what we are told, and that what we grow up with is “normal,” regardless of the reality.  It’s also SciFi in nature and revolves around a “Millenial Ship,” on a thousand year journey to a new planet.  While there really isn’t a shortage of Colony Ship stories, my vision is rather darker, and more unique than those I’ve read.

Further down the line, much further, I have an idea for a very complex novel, which I don’t quite have the technical skills to pull off yet.  I’m roughly outlining it as inspiration strikes, but definitely need more writing experience before I can pull it off the way I feel it needs to be told.

Outside of fiction I have been working on a tabletop wargame.  It is meant to be super easy to play for people with little to no gaming experience.  It uses a chess set for the pieces, construction paper for the terrain, and dice.  A lot of dice!  It’s called DieLuck’s Chess and true to its name relies upon extensive dice rolls.  I’ve completed the second draft of the rules and am working on finalizing it so I can send it out to playtesters.

Finally, perhaps even more far afield from the normal, I’m writing, for lack of a better descriptor, a framework for religion, spirituality, and/or philosophy.  I have always been fascinated by religions, spirituality, philosophies, and the universality of all cultures that there is something beyond our mortal realm.  So I’m trying to articulate a framework for people to think about life, and its decisions, amongst the myriad of our emotions and experiences.  The idea is for it to work for anyone, regardless of their own personal beliefs, or lack thereof, in a higher power.

You were and still are a part of the #fridayflash community. What’s the first thing any aspiring writer should know about flash fiction writing?

That it is awesome and amazing and why aren’t you already doing it?  It is a fantastic tool in honing your writing skills.  Constraining yourself to a wholly self-contained story in a 1,000 words or less is far more challenging than I originally thought.  So many times I’ve written out what I thought was a simple, straightforward story only to look down and find that I’m less than halfway through and already over 1,000 words.  It really teaches you what words are truly invaluable, and what needs to be cut- no matter how great a line it is.

It is also an rewarding way to explore different genres, practice dialogue, or any other technique you want to hone.  In my #FridayFlash’s I’ve written SciFi, Fantasy, Humor, Horror, Mystery, Satire, and I’m sure others which I’m now forgetting too.  I’ve also used it to practice writing with sparse descriptions, as well as utilizing it to explore the possibilities afforded by more complex sentences, more vibrantly colored adjectives, and an aggrandizingly exaggerated vocabulary.

The other great thing is the community.  While I haven’t post a #FridayFlash in awhile, unfortunately, it truly is a great way to get feedback on your works.  It will also help you learn how to give positive, usable feedback to others.  I’ve met a lot of great people over the years through reading other people’s posts and getting thoughts on my own.  Almost every person I’ve met in this community  has been both encouraging and helpful, with people tailoring their critiques to the writer’s skill level.  Indeed, most of them I still keep in touch with via twitter, and it’s inspiring to read how they’re all doing with their own writing.

You can find Paul at these links:



Amazon – Brass Automaton