The Spring Slog

“April is the cruelest month…”

Wife and I finally got Covid. (Happy Easter, eh?)

I’m on the mend but it really took the wind out of my sails. After-effects are hanging on.

On a positive note, it looks like there’s another Osprey rule book in my future. So that’s cool.

Fiction-wise, I’ve got another Exclusion Zone short in the queue and Shattered Worlds Book 2, “Into the Scorned Lands’ is moving forward.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Stay well. Have an excellent week.

Meanwhile, back in the Shattered Worlds…

Laying out my writing schedule for rest of this year, it’s past time to turn my attention back to the fantasy post-apocalypse of the Shattered Worlds. (think Middle Earth meets the The Road and you’re in the right neighborhood)

Part One, Beneath the Broken Moon, introduced Addas Dashag, the half-breed scavenger thrown into a damaged landscape in search of a dubious refuge. Next up is Into the Scorned Lands as the misfit company continues on their quest through a world more broken and dangerous than they’d imagined.

Scorned Lands will be released separately for Kindle as well as packaged with part one in print. (see the cover art above) Providing the river don’t rise, the cattle don’t spook, and hell don’t freeze over, both will be done and out before the year’s end.

Thanks for your time.

Keep heart, art hard, and have an excellent day.

More Words to Listen to.

With the release of the Soul Cache for audio, (as well as for Kindle and in print) I figured it was time to mention the other stories of mine that are available at Audible.

Tales from the Exclusion Zone

For those of you familiar with the STALKER setting – the book Roadside Picnic, the Tarkovsky film of the same name, and the Chernobyl-centered computer games – there are two short stories set in the mysterious Exclusion Zone: A Prayer to St. Strelok, and Strange Treasure. If you’re in need of a quick vacation from the real world, you can tag along with Zone Guide, Yuri Bonyev into the most heavily quarantined place on the planet.

NEAR-FUTURE MILITARY SCI-FI

If you’re more in the mood for some ‘15 minutes in the future‘ military action, there’s Hard Kill, The Stones Remember, and Sozo. Covert operations, Russian invasions, and veterans facing down traffickers, it’s all here.

A CELTIC-FLAVORED GHOST STORY

For lighter fare, The Barrow Lover is the story of two friends mucking about with buried treasure, a royal murder, and one angry ghost. Nice way to lean into the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day – if you’re so inclined.

All of them run a couple hours or less, and with a fine job by all the narrators, any one of them would be an easy way to take the grind out of some drudge work or liven up your daily commute.

That’s it for now. Thanks and have an excellent day.

New Release: Soul Cache audio book

Pleased to announce Soul Cache has joined the ranks of my audio book offerings.

The seventh of my spec-fiction shorts available for your listening pleasure, the story of an aging homicide detective’s hunt for an elusive serial killer in a sci fi mega city is deftly narrated by Justin Hyler. Coming in just over two hours (normal speed) it’s the perfect way to make your daily commute more interesting or liven up a stretch of drudge work.

Available at Audible/Amazon, you can pick it up here at Audible or from the full list here at Amazon.

If you’re partial to the heft and smell of a paperback, Soul Cache is also available as part of the short story collection, Fits and Orisons.

Thanks again. Have an excellent day.

Kirkus Review – Soul Cache

going for that cybernoir look

“A rich and meticulously described setting makes for an undeniably immersive reading experience.
Two (augmented) thumbs up.” – Kirkus Review

I paid a lot for those two sentences. I mean, there’s more to the review but that’s the blurb-able bit.

Yes, Kirkus reviews cost money. No, that’s not a guarantee of a good review.

So why spend the cash and wait 2 months? Because after ten years, three novels, four novellas, and five short stories I finally felt like I’d written something worth submitting, worth dropping the coin on.

That’s not to say I consider Soul Cache to be flawless or a short-form superlative example of the genre. Or even that Kirkus – respected as they are – is the definitive appraisal of my writing skill. I just remember finishing the story, after a much longer and more difficult process than I expected, and hearing in the back of my mind: ‘Here is something that could stand in the public market. Can hold its own. It’s actually pretty good.’

Meaning that it struck me I’d created something worthy of professional assessment and I wanted to hear that assessment bad enough to drop the money for a 321-word review.

Money well spent? Will this translate into sales and agents and movie options? Who knows? That’s another thing that is definitely not guaranteed. By life, the writer gods, or Kirkus.

Dumb, vanity move? Did I experience a surge of inspiration and creative confidence as I turn toward my next fiction project? Mmmmmm, not really. Honestly, I read it. breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t horrible, and thought, Well… Time to get back to work, I guess.

Which is what it all comes down to, emotionally exhilarated or not; putting my ass in the chair and chiseling away at the next story, trusting that by forging ahead and doing the work, the next one will be a little better.

Maybe even good enough to warrant another Kirkus Review.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by. Have an excellent day.

———————————-

If you’re interested, you can read the full review HERE

Soul Cache. A story from the streets of New Kowloon is available electronically for Kindle at Amazon HERE. Or in print as part of a collection of short stories, HERE.

Starting 2022

Happy New Year.

Kicking off 2022 with the release of Fits and Orisons, a collection of five of my short stories. Previously only available for Kindle, this puts The Stones Remember, Sozo, A Prayer to St. Strelok, Strange Treasure, and the recent, Soul Cache in print. Quick reads all, if you like your mil-sci-fi with a dose of strange, this might scratch that itch. Click HERE for your copy.

I’m also pleased to say the Soul Cache audio book will be available in February. So there’s that too.

Thank you all for your support, particularly these last two years. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2022 filled with good friends, inspired projects, and met deadlines.

Have an excellent day.

So Long, 2021

2021: It was real. It was fun. But it wasn’t real fun.

Here’s to taking the good, leaving the bad, and learning from both. I wish you all a happy, healthy, and creative new year.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

Christmas 2021

Side view of an empty manger at night.

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw- dirt floor, dull eyes,

dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;

No bed to carry that pain.

And then the child –
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry in a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said:
“Yes, Let the God of all
the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place”?

Who but the same God who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says,
“Yes, Let the God of Heaven and Earth be born here – in this place.               

     – L.L. Fields

May God bless you and keep you in the new year, and make you an instrument of His Courage, Compassion, and Grace.

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year to you all.

‘Soul Cache’ – Now Available

I’m pleased to announce Soul Cache is now available for Kindle. A crime thriller novella set in future fictional New Kowloon, Detective Zeki Pemburu hunts a serial killer, his only leads the victims’ last moments illegally obtained from their neural chips. If you’re feeling a little technoir, this should scratch that itch. I’m also working on adding it to my catalog of Audiobooks. Watch for that announcement early next year.

For those of us who prefer print books, Soul Cache will be included in the upcoming collection, Fits and Orisons.

Once that is complete, I’ll be returning to the post-apocalyptic fantasy series, Shattered Worlds. Book One, Beneath the Broken Moon is available on Kindle and will also appear in print late in 2022.

Thank you for stopping by. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

To close the door on 2021

Well, that was weird. The last two years, I mean.

Feels like I was slogging through a fog, haunted by constant, low-grade anxiety from all the Huge, Bad Stuff happening around me. Sorta like seeing kaiju fighting in the distance everywhere I looked, knowing it was devastating and tragic no matter the outcome, and wondering what the hell I was gonna do if they stomped their way closer to my little house.

With 2021 drawing to a close, I have no reason to complain; I mean, I’m still alive, healthy, married. My family is good. I still have friends. Still chipping away at the To Do list, albeit in a slower, different way. And while I’m unconvinced we’re out of the Weird Woods yet, I have plenty to be grateful for.

FICTION

On the writing front, I finally finished another piece. “Soul Cache” is a cyberpunk, technoir, crime thriller. A short novella at 25K words/75 pages, it centers on an aging homicide detective hunting a serial killer in grimy, crowded mega-city. His only clues are the victims’ last moments, data he obtained by illegally hacking their neural chips. (it’s all fun and games until someone suffers Dissociative Identity Disorder. or gets brutally dismembered)

It’s slated for release 17 December and up for pre-order now at Amazon. Click HERE if you need a digital stocking stuffer this Christmas.

It will also be part of a print collection of short stories coming out early 2022. (for those who prefer holding a physical book.)

TOY SOLDIERS

Tabletop gaming has been taking the lion’s share of my creative attention. Echoing Willie Sutton, the audience response to my games is, well, a helluva lot more than my fiction, so… yeah.

Adding to the Exploit Zero and Nightwatch family of wargames is Insurgent Earth, a tabletop tactical miniature adventure game where players fight against alien invaders. Designed with Solo and Cooperative play in mind, you and your friends will band together, form a resistance cell, gear up and take back our home planet.

Even though the core dice mechanics are well established, our game group is running extensive play tests to smooth out the additional, RPG-lite elements for the player characters, and the command-and-control of the game-driven alien invaders. Everything needs to be as smooth, solid, and simple as possible; hate it when rules get in the way of an enjoyable game. Insurgent Earth should be out mid-2022.

In the meantime, you can drop by Stalker7.com for battle reports and other cool toy soldier stuff.

OTHER THAN THAT

The foreseeable future comes down to getting through Christmas and New Years celebrations. My kids and grand kids should be here Christmas morning, so I thank God for that.

Oh and The Witcher Season 2. That’s cool too.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep my head down, keep praying for God’s peace, paint some toy soldiers, and start pecking away at book two of the Shattered Worlds series, Scorned Lands.

Thanks for reading. Take Care.