Irons in the fire

Here’s a list of my current active projects. (I probably have twice as many “back burnered”–I need to learn to write faster.)

The Beasts of Trevanta

The Changeling War is over, the magic that permitted wizards to create nigh unstoppable hordes in The Hordes of Chanakra has been dispelled, to late, however, to save the kingdom of Aerioch.  But the King still lives, as does his son, the swordsmistress Kaila, her wizardly father, and Kreg, the strange outworlder.  As they set on the path to restore lost Aerioch they find a foe never before seen.  Strange, savage beast-men roam the land, slaughtering or enslaving all they encounter.  Can they survive these strange creatures and begin the task of restoring Aerioch to her former glory?  Do even the gods know?


Filling the awesome appetite for materials to feed a booming spaceborne economy is a monumental task.  To fill that need are the Wranglers family businesses that roam the asteroids in ion drive spaceships seeking asteroids rich in the heavy metals vital to industry.  They find the asteroids, mark them with identifying beacons, and divert their orbits down to any of several receiving stations.  But when marked asteroids fail to arrive, Tom Bardeau and his family must find out why before bankruptcy forces the sale of their ship and Tom becomes simply an employee working to someone else’s rules.

Dhampyre the Hunter

Dani Herzeg was a private investigator out of Nashville, but some cases were more private than others.  One of her tasks was to find, and kill, rogue vampires whose actions threatened to reveal the secret of their existence.   But when a case goes badly wrong, Dani finds keeping the secret the least of her problems as the death toll mounts in ever more public, ever more savage, ways.

Alchemy of Shadows

Johann Schmidt has gone by many names over the centuries.  An alchemist, whose very blood is the true, fabled philosopher’s stone.  But through the years he has been chased by mysterious beings he only knows as shadows.  He does not know what they want, why they pursue him.  He only knows that they want him and will destroy anyone who gets in their way with a freezing touch that not even the Elixir of Life can cure.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an ETA on any of these.  They’ll be done when they’re done.



An Urban Fantasy snippet.

This work has been back-burnered for the time being.  I need to work out a few issues with it, plus I’ve got too many balls in the air right now anyway as it were.

Still, enjoy.

I belong to a club, an exclusive club. You can’t buy into it. No amount of money will get you membership in this club. No study or application will gain entry. Entrance is only by birth.

Members of the club, like me, have one thing in common. Somewhere along our maternal line one of our ancestors had congress, willingly or not, with a demon and, as a result, bore a female child.

My name is Molly Joyner.  I am a witch.

I am not a “Wiccan”, a worshipper of an Earth Mother Goddess, attempting through rituals and spells to harness forces of which I have only an inkling, secure in the belief that the Universe is a friendly, happy place if only we live in harmony with it.

The Universe is not a friendly place. Demons are real. Their blood flows through my veins. It is a source of power. It is also a curse.

Some of my sisters, other members of this club, other witches, work with the demons, spreading their influence in the world. Others oppose them, turning powers spawned of demon blood against their brood.

I stand against the demons. That is why I was in this seedy bar working as a cocktail waitress.

“Here you go, Hun.”  As I set the Guiness Extra Stout down, one of the men at the table pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Sorry, Hun.  No smoking here.”

The man looked up, squinting at the brighter lights from the bar behind me.  Mid-thirties, with light brown hair.  More than a five o’clock shadow, call it an eight thirty shadow. “You’re shitting me?”

I shrugged. “Indiana law.  No smoking in places of business.  You’ll have to take it outside.”

Swearing softly under his breath, the man stood up. “Watch my drink, Paul.”

Another man, a bit older with dirty blond hair thinning on top, waved a hand. “Yeah, yeah.”

The woman next to the older man scooted closer to him.  She peered up at me, her eyes narrowing. “You’re new here?”

I smiled. “Started here today.  Carlyle’s, on the south side, closed down so…” I forced myself not to hold my breath as I wondered if she saw through the hint of glamorie.

“Good luck.” Her voice was friendly but her expression anything but. “This place can be rough, but you can make good money.”

She appeared to be a young woman, mid-twenties.  Brunette hair swept back from the sides of her face and falling to the middle of her back.  Her eyebrows formed high arches above her heavy blue eyeshadow.  Bright pink lipstick shaded to deeper red at the edges of her full lips.

That would be her own glamorie, of course.  She hid it well.  Not a hint of magic showed through.

“Can I get you anything else?”

“Yeah, a martini, shaken not stirred” The woman waved her hand airily.

I forced myself not to roll my eyes and jotted down the order. “Be right back.”

I handed the ticket to Mike at the bar.  He looked down at it then back up at me. “We have society here today?”

I shrugged and grinned.

Mike sighed and selected a bottle of gin.  I recognized it as the cheapest brand.  He measured some into a Cobbler shaker along with some vermouth.  After giving the shaker three halfhearted shakes he poured the mix into a martini glass and dropped in an olive, speared on a little plastic sword.

I set the drink on my tray. “Thanks, Mike.”

Back at the table, Paul sat alone scrolling through some text document on his phone.  I set the martini down in front of the woman’s place and waited.

Paul grunted and pulled his wallet form his hip pocket. “How much.”

I quoted a price.  He set the amount on the table, paused, then dropped an extra one on top of it.

I scooped up the money and tucked it into my apron. “Thank you.”

He grunted and turned back to his phone.

I straightened.  Where had she gone?  Toward the door?  No, not there.  I looked to the rear and saw her heading toward the bathrooms.  Before she reached them she sidestepped behind one of the privacy walls.  I spotted her a moment later, skirting the row of booths toward the front of the bar and the exit.

Turning, I hustled back to the bar and set my tray down. “Mike, I’m taking a short break.”

From where he was drawing a beer, he waved in my direction.  I wiped my hands on a bar towel then hustled toward the front door.

Outside, a few people clustered around the entrance to the bar but neither the woman nor the man I sought stood in sight.  I chewed on my lower lip for a moment then turned to the left.  Overflow parking lay in that direction, running around to the back of the bar.  I trotted in that direction and turned the corner.

None of the lights in this part of the parking lot worked.  Only the full moon, half veiled by clouds, illuminated the lot.  A spark of red light between the dumpster and the back wall of the bar drew my attention.

I curled the fingers of my right hand into a precise gesture and whispered the words of a simple spell, sharpening my eyesight allowing me to see in the shadow.

I saw the woman, Paul’s companion standing in front of the other man who had come in with Paul.  She stood facing him, her right hand raised and covering the man’s face.  He leaned back against the front wall of the bar, his arms hanging listlessly at his sides.  A half-finished cigarette hung between the first two fingers of his right hand.  The woman, the witch looked my way.  Only now she did not look to be in her mid-twenties.  Wrinkles spread in a fan from the corners of her eyes.  Others crossed her forehead.  Deep lines ran from the sides of her nose to the corners of her mouth.  Her hair was no longer blonde, but gray and thinning.  To all appearances she was in her sixties.

I raised my hand to my face, feigning an expression of surprise. “Oh, pardon me.”

The witch pointed her left hand in my direction.  Dim blue light shone at her fingertips. “You saw nothing.  Go back inside.”

I felt the force of her compulsion pressing against me.  I took a step back.  She turned back to the man.  I started to turn, as though to return to the front but keeping close watch on her as I did so.  In a moment, her attention returned to the man in front of her.  His eyes rolled back, his jaw hung open.  He moaned softly and his hips began to twitch.

In that moment, with the witch’s attention fully on the mind she was invading, I struck.  I stabbed out with a lance of magic, slipping past the witch’s unconscious defenses and paralyzing her.

Released from her control, the man slumped to the ground disoriented.  It would be several seconds before awareness returned to him.  Long enough.

“Hey!  What’s going on back there?”

I turned my head at the voice.  Another man stood about twenty feet away, his left hand upraised in my direction, his right behind his hip.

Swearing softly, I released the witch and stepped back, shifting my attention to the man, freezing him.  What had he seen?

The witch turned to face me and stepped back as well. “So.  You’re one of us.”

“Not one of you.”

She cast a glance in the direction of the newcomer then back to me. “I’ll leave you to deal with the witnesses.  Another time.” She faded back into the shadows and disappeared.

“Son of a…” I looked at the man I held frozen and pushed with a compulsion. “You saw nothing.  Go about your business.”

I then turned to the other man at my feet.  He looked up at me, his eyes dropping, his face slack.

“You okay?” I held a hand down to him.

He blinked, staring at my hand then turned, ignoring my hand and pushing himself to his feet. “What did that bitch do to me?”

He looked down at the cigarette still in his hand.  I nudged him mentally.

“She dosed my…” He spat then tossed the cigarette into the dumpster.

“Are you sure you’re…” I held out a hand to him again.

“Get away from me, whore.”

I raised my hands and stepped back.  He staggered back toward the front of the bar.

“What did I just see?”

I jumped at the voice.  I looked back over my shoulder.  The man I had frozen, that I thought had compelled to leave, stood unmoved, his right hand remaining behind his hip.  As I turned to face him and took a step forward.  He took two steps back.  His hand swept out and forward revealing a small semi-automatic pistol.  He brought the pistol around until it was pointed at my sternum.

“Stay where you are?”

I raised my hands up next to my shoulders, showing him my open hands.

“There’s no need for that.” I put another compulsion behind the words.

The barrel of the gun dipped then returned to line.

“What are you?”

I frowned.  Not only was this not going like it should, but I was using entirely too much magic.  He was not leaving and especially was not forgetting.

“I’m no threat to you.” Another compulsion, pushing the truth of my words.

“How did you?” The gun wavered.

I pressed my advantage. “It’s okay.  I’m one of the good guys.”

The gun drooped. “One of the?”

“Wouldn’t you just rather forget all this?”

“This is entirely too crazy to forget.” The gun dropped to his side. “But I’ll give you a chance to explain.”

I sighed and sagged against the wall.  With the way he was resisting the compulsions I needed time, time to find a way to preserve the secret. I looked over my shoulder at the bar.  Well, the job had merely been a cover, and that blown already.

I looked back to the man. “Would you care to discuss it over coffee?”

Truck attack in New York, a Shooting?

This is going to be brief.  Don’t really have a lot to say about this, but what I do say matters, I think.

The NYPD’s facebook page gave a warning to stay away from the area where a driver in a truck mowed down a bunch of people because “there had been a shooting.”

The driver after being stopped got out of the truck with fake guns (BB guns, I believe).  The only actual shooting was by the police.

Look, I don’t object to the police shooting.  They guy just committed several counts of murder and aggravated battery. (Hey, I’m not a court.  I don’t have to pretend I think he’s innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury of his peers.) He came out of the truck doing his level best to look like he’s armed.  As far as I’m concerned you can add attempted suicide to the list of his actions.  Police were fully justified in opening fire.

No, it’s calling the incident a “shooting” when the only shots fired, indeed the only firearms present, were those of the police.  And, right on cue the usual suspects started crying, waving the still-wet bloody shirts of the victims of this asshole in their cry for “a conversation on gun control”. They con’t mean “conversation” of course.  They mean “give in to our demands on more restrictions on your rights.”

They’re using this incident–after all the police called it a “shooting”–to call for more gun control.  Control what guns?  The only guns involved were those of the police.  Somehow, I don’t think they’re calling for disarming the police.  Of course, logic an reason need not apply.  Any excuse, whether relevant or not, will be used by these people to push their views on the rest of us.  And the more blood they can paint themselves with, the better.

To be blunt, the last thing they want is an end to massacres and crimes.  They’re too useful for getting what they want.

The victims, therefore, have been victimized twice, once by the criminal, and once again by those using their death and pain to further political ends.

“Have you stopped beating your wife?”

So there is this:


If you don’t condemn “white supremacy” then, of course you are a racist.  If you do, according to this…individual…that too indicates you are a racist.  There is literally no answer one could give that does not mean one is a racist.

This, of course, is a standard Kafkatrap, assuming guilt and using denial as further evidence of said guilt.  It is, of course, a fallacy but like with many other fallacies that doesn’t stop people from using it.  And, of course, it’s a matter of emotion, lot logic, and certainly not fact.

There’s a problem with this.  By declaring everybody a racist, regardless of what their actual positions on race might be, far from getting people to agree with you, you remove any incentive to bother with you at all.  There’s no point in trying to satisfy people who are never going to be satisfied.

Most people will simply continue with their own ethics.  They’re not going to let the perpetually unsatisfied dictate to them one way or the other.  But there are some, “in for a penny, in for a pound”, “might as well be hung for a ram as a sheep”, etc.  If you’re going to declare them racist anyway, they’ll figure they might as well go all-in.

This “everything is racist”, “everyone is racist”, nano-, pico-, atto- aggressions, bit will simply make the matters worse.

If you’re goal is to reduce, let alone end racism, then you’re doing it wrong.

If, however, your goal is to fan the fires of racism into a roaring conflagration, then you’re doing it right.

Which is your actual goal?  Think long and hard about your answer.


Never let a man stir on his road a step…

…without his weapons of war
for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise
of a spear on the way without.

Thus said Odin to all who would heed.  The world is a dangerous place, full of predators, and while most no longer need fear those that walk on four legs, in there place we have many who walk on two.

Even the so called Prince of Peace said:

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

(Yes, other translations say “cloak” but I like the King James Version and the implication that it is better to be naked than unarmed.)

The truth is, it is a dangerous world, full of predators both two legged and four.  While most people don’t consider wolves and bears and such a major threat in the modern world, I can note that I have seen coyotes in Indianapolis.  These are not generally a threat to adults, but can be to pets and small children.  In similar vein there are plenty of stray (“feral”) dogs which, while usually more timid than aggressive can still sometimes prove a threat.

There have also been both unconfirmed and a few confirmed (game cameras catching them) sightings of cougars in Indiana.  The Department of Natural Resources states that these are generally transient males “just passing through”.  There are no breeding populations in the State.


But while the risk of four-footed predators is small for most people.  The risk of those on two feet is a different matter entirely.

Generally speaking violent crime rates are down.  This is a good thing.  But “down” is not the same as “no longer an issue”.

According to crime statistics reported by the FBI for 2016, there is approximately one violent crime (Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Rape, Murder) per every 300 people in the US.  In other words an individual’s chances of being the victim of one of these crimes is, on average about 0.3% for the year.

Sounds pretty safe, doesn’t it?

However, when you consider that over a lifetime, the impression changes.  The lifetime likelihood of being a victim of a an attempted or completed violent crime, according to a Department of Justice study, was 83%.  In about half of those cases the attempted crime would actually be completed.

I should note that things are better than this study reports:  The annual crime rates are down from those used in the lifetime likelihood of victimization study.  A quick run of the numbers suggests that the probabilities are about half what they were when the study was done.  That means that one is only, assuming current rates continue, 41% likely to be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime.


You have to ask yourself:  are you willing to bet your life and safety on 40%?  If you are, well, it’s your life and your call to make, I suppose.  I’m not.  Because, when it happens, there’s just me.  The police?  If the police were there, most likely the violent criminal would not engage in his violent crime, choosing instead another place and time.  And until the police do arrive, there is just me.  Even the police admit that:

(Show them the phone?  Really?)

40% sometime in my life?  The odds of something happening today are minuscule.  The odds of something tomorrow, or any other given day, similarly so.  But add those days together and the odds start creeping up.  And I don’t know which, if any, of them will be “the one”.  After all, if I did, I’d simply avoid the situation of that day.

Those of us who do not go out looking for trouble do not know when it might find us on its own.  And so, as Odin would no doubt say in the modern world:

Never let a man stir on his road a step
without his weapons of self defense
for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise
of a gun on the way without.

Back from the trip and new phone.

Back from that business trip that put me offline.  And now that I’m home I just upgraded my phone from my older Samsung Galaxy S4 to a new Samsung Galaxy S8.


The phone is physically larger than the S4 as is becoming the trend.   After many years of the trend being for smaller and smaller phones, it reversed and is now going the other way.  As some have explained it:


In my case, it’s that I read books on my phone.  I have reached the point where the library in my Kindle app now dwarfs my never small physical library.  The phone is still small enough, even with the Otterbox Defender case I purchased for it, to fit in a shirt pocket, or into a front pants pocket.  I have a belt clip, of course (comes with the case), but that’s not always convenient to wear.  So I probably don’t want to get much larger.

One of the issues with the previous phone was that it could be hard to read, even at maximum brightness, in full sun.  I don’t know how this one compares in that respect.  It has been persistently gloomy outside since my return.

In addition to its size, the new phone has several advantages over my old one.  The icons for the apps are somewhat smaller so more fit on a screen “page”.  This means that all the apps I most commonly use fit on the home screen without having to bleed over to a second screen.  That’s a noticeable improvement in convenience.  The phone came with 64 GB of memory.  That’s more than the internal storage and Micro-SD card I had in my old phone combined.  I can put in a new card.

Transferring my old data and apps to the new phone was surprisingly convenient.  There’s an app that generates a QR code that let’s the two phones “talk” over WiFi for part of the process and there’s a “null modem” adapter that lets the two talk over a USB cable to complete the process.

The only thing that didn’t go through was my playlists.  I used Doubletwist as my main music player.  The music files went across but the playlists did not so rebuilding them is taking a bit of time.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the new phone so far.  And the old one is packed away as a “backup” in case this one is lost or damaged.


Why write?

An important question.  But a more important one is “why read”. (Note:  this is going to be brief and I don’t know how much posting I’m going to be able to do over the next several days–business trip for my “day job” coming up.)

People have told me to think about what my goal is as a writer and to be driven by that. There’s some good value in that advice, but the flip side is that whatever my goal might be as a writer, if it’s anything other than intellectual masturbation, then it must also consider what the reader’s goal is as a reader.

If a work doesn’t meet the reader’s goal in reading, then it doesn’t matter what goal mine might be (saving only that intellectual masturbation thing) because it won’t be accomplished.

In general, when it comes to fiction, the reader wants to be entertained. They want to be excited, amazed, thrilled. They want to feel worry, romance, wonder. They want to be diverted from their humdrum existence into something different. They want to have characters they can care about in situations that cause them to worry and then have that worry resolved in a satisfying way.

In short, they want _stories_. Create stories. Get them to read. And then any other goals you might have can be slipped in.