Flash Fiction Friday: November in Kolonia

November in Kolonia. There is cold nip in the air, and the sky is a threatening gray. It’s a bluff, of course, no rain will fall today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but the man on the bicycle doesn’t know that. He pulls his beret tight and peddles faster. All the houses look the same—the windows just so, a forest of short stocky chimneys, a lamppost in front of every third house. This is Kolonia. This is home. The old man on the bicycle has lived here all his life.

He peddles faster now, wrapping his coat tight against the cold. He’s had a nagging chest pain for a few weeks now, and a chill in his bones that won’t go away no matter how many pipes he smokes, or blankets he wears. His nephew is a doctor, who looked worried when he heard, but the old man hasn’t asked, and his nephew has kept his peace.

The streets are empty this early in the morning. The old man likes it that way. He rides to work every morning and back home again every night. This is his routine. He has done so for fifty-four years, and run down sixteen bicycles in that time. Except. He doesn’t have a job any more. He was fired eighteen months ago, but he hasn’t told anyone. He still rides his bicycle, but not to work. He just wanders, and the pain in his chest grows. It’s November in Kolonia.

Irons in the Fire—Now Available In Print!

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Irons in the Fire is now available in print! It’s a thing now, a physical thing—cover, spine, and all! It’s odd really. My book has been out for months now, but there’s something about being able to hold it in my hands that makes it feel more…real. It has weight and texture. My story is in the world.

If you’re interested, you can pick up a paperback copy here: http://amzn.to/1NDnfJo

Irons in the Fire—New Cover Reveal

Behold! Irons in the Fire has a brand new cover! It’s all shiny and explosive, literally.

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I chose James T. Egan of Bookfly Design to do the redesigns and I couldn’t be happier. I gave him a tangled mess of ideas and concepts—some unhelpfully vague, and others unhelpfully specific—and he came up with something I never would have expected. It captures the dangerous tone and tension I was hoping for, of the city on the brink of exploding. Literally a bomb.

James will also be doing the cover for The Fall of the House of Talis—Book 2 of the series, which should be out this fall.

In the meantime, I’ve received the trade-paperback proof for Irons in the Fire, so that will be available in print as soon as possible.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Life & Loves of Mr. Albert P. Pennyfeather

Mr. Albert P. Pennyfeather was in love. For those who knew him well this was not, altogether, much of a surprise. Mr. Pennyfeather, after all, was infamous within certain circles for his particular talent for falling into and out of love at the drop of the proverbial hat; sometimes even before the hat had been dropped. Indeed, there was some debate amongst his friends and relations precisely how he accomplished his feats of romantic permutation. This time, however, was different, as Mr. Pennyfeather earnestly assured his friends at the club. This time it was true love. Mr. Jonathan Fallows of Ward & Beecham, who had, by last count, heard Mr. Pennyfeather make approximately two hundred and twenty-three such declarations, was unconvinced.

“Now look here, Pennyfeather,” he said rather sharply, “I’ve heard this all before. Just last week you were telling me all about whatsername…the one with the violin, or was it the cello?”

“It was the viola,” Pennyfeather replied with a dismissive wave of his hand, “but never mind her. That was just a silly little crush. Best to forget about her. I certainly have. No, Dorothea is the one for me.”

“Dorothea?” Fallows asked. “Not Dorothea Rayne?”

“Yes,” Pennyfeather sighed happily, “Dorothea Rayne…”

“Not the author of ‘The New Venus: The Phrenological Case for Women’s Supremacy?’”

“The very same,” Pennyfeather nodded.

Mr. Fallows peered at him incredulously. “Have you actually read her book?” he asked.

“Well no,” Pennyfeather admitted, “ but she gave me an autographed copy after her lecture.”

Mr. Fallows blinked trying to picture his friend attending any lecture at all, let alone one on The Phrenological Case for Women’s Supremacy, but found that it was beyond his powers of imagination.

“You went to her lecture?” he asked at last.

“Oh yes,” said Pennyfeather, “it was most instructive.”

“Ignoring the implications of that for the moment,” said Mr. Fallows, who was beginning to harbor grave doubts concerning his friend’s state of mind, “why precisely did you attend a lecture on Women’s Supremacy?”

For the first time, Pennyfeather appeared a trifle reluctant. “Well you see, old boy, it was like this… What I mean to say is that… it was Angela you see. She so desperately wanted to go…”

“Angela?”

“Ms. Cartwright.”

“I see,” said Mr. Fallows, who was indeed beginning to, “So you accompanied Ms. Cartwright to the lecture on her insistence…”

“Yes,” said Pennyfeather, “I would never have thought to go on my own.”

“Well quite,” Mr. Fallows agreed. “And where is Ms. Cartwright now?”

“How the blazes should I know?” Pennyfeather cried. “It doesn’t matter anyway. She isn’t half the woman Dorothea is.”

“No, of course not,” Mr. Fallows said. Then, checking his watch, he suddenly remembered an urgent engagement elsewhere and so, appropriately apologetic, he took his leave. And as he headed out into the rain he shook his head sadly. Poor Old Pennyfeather, he never would change.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Monster of Lake Cranberry

There was a monster fishing by the lake. His name was Gerald. He was small, round, and green, the color of all proper monsters. His teeth were long and sharp. His fur was prickly and spiked. But he was, all things considered, a rather pleasant fellow. His grin was roguish and infectious, even if there were a few too many teeth for comfort. He helped little old ladies cross the street, and tried never to frighten children or small animals. His was a happy contented life, that monster named Gerald, and he was never more happy or contented then when fishing.

With a rod in one claw and a picnic basket in the other, he made his way every Thursday afternoon, to the old bridge on the shores of Lake Cranberry. To my knowledge he has never caught a single fish in fifteen years of trying. This may be because there are no fish in Lake Cranberry. A small family of ducks, and a lonely old swan comprise the entire wildlife population. But that doesn’t stop Gerald. I think he enjoys the peace and quiet, the freedom from prying eyes and startled screams. Fishing on the lake is his sanctuary, or it was until they opened the boathouse. Now people come on special ferries just to see the Monster of Cranberry Lake and his fishing rod. I don’t know why he still goes out there, every Thursday to his old spot, in spite of the gawpers, the tourists, and yes, the occasional nutter. But then, I’ve never understood what the fuss is about Gerald. He’s always seemed normal to me, but of course, he is my brother.