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Holiday Excerpt: A Newborn King to See

Published December 21, 2017 by admin

Admittedly, I’m not as cynical as I bill myself. Like everything else, I tend to hide behind the sarcasm and eye rolling a little bit. While I have mixed feelings about this time of year, it makes great fodder for stories. Some of which actually are uplifting.


With that in mind, here’s another excerpt from my co-authored collection, Lost in the Shadows. This time in A Newborn King to See, we take a look at my take on hope, reincarnation, and the little drummer boy.

Hey, I never said it wasn’t going to be weird.


The close of the year is coming. Once again my annual search has become a little more. It is the same every year. I have never once failed to find what I am seeking. Still, the thought of failing for the first time is enough to make me anxious. Or is it the thought of not stumbling into Him again this year? I suppose it is this way for most people.
It is our special tradition. Every year the hide-and-seek game takes me to new countries, new times, new peoples. It has been our special game since the ancient year a tiny infant looked upon a poor beggar child with a single talent, and smiled.
I did not understand the full extent of such a blessing then. I was too busy worrying about my next meal. That tiny smile followed me afterwards, until one unseasonably cold Bethlehem night I went to sleep huddled in a pile of rough grain sacks in an alley and never saw another sunrise.
His memory went with me and I suddenly found that I had so much possibility ahead of me. There was no time to be bitter about one short, poor life. The One that had sent Him is a loving protector and understands my longing for expression and knows of my quiet bond with the boy.
At the start of each year my search begins and my spirit wanders tirelessly to seek Him out before the year’s close. I see many people this way and see many old faces resurrected and reflected in the eyes of each new generation.
I have strolled down crowded streets in third-world countries. It is astounding and heart-breaking that thousands of years past my time there are children that have less than I once did. I peek in windows in London, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, amazed at opulence beyond that of the kings and Caesars of old. I take all that I see to heart, and when I do finally return for my rest I talk about this with others, with The One that sent my very best friend in those quiet moments before dawn.
I always find Him, though, in this odd game of hide and seek that has spanned the centuries. He is good at hiding, always has been, for many never do find Him. But I know always to look in unexpected places, because he is no longer content to wait in the obvious stables and mangers. One must look harder.

lost in the shadows

Kindle     Paperback 

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.


Excerpt: Candles (from Lost in the Shadows)

Published December 12, 2017 by admin

Tis the season, and since we started off the week on a horror vibe, I figured we’d keep it going with an excerpt from a Christmas short I did for the collection Lost in the Shadows. Taking place on Christmas Eve during the zombie apocalypse, it combines the ceremony of advent and the desire to keep Christmas close under bleak circumstances.


If it was any other Christmas, the candles would have been purple, pink, and white. As it was, Jamie had been lucky to find extra candles at all.

“This Christmas sucks. No turkey, no presents. We don’t even get a tree,” Tony whined from his seat in the shed’s corner. Jamie bit her lip against the sudden urge to cry. Of all the horrors they’d seen lately, it was her thirteen-year-old that was making her break down. The worst part was that he was right. Celebrating was a stupid idea that just made it all worse. She couldn’t save her family, or even give them a proper holiday. What kind of a mother am I?

“We have a lot of things,” Grant reminded him. There he was, coming to her aid once again. Every time they ran out of food, every time Tony or her five-year-old Andy got sick, every time the undead got riled and tried to charge their hiding spot of the moment, he was there with an answer. He gave her a tight smile over her oldest’s head. He looked as ragged as the rest of them did, but his drawn face didn’t look bad on him. His sandy brown hair didn’t show the light blond in it unless she looked really hard, and they hadn’t been alone enough lately for her to have a chance to look. His grey eyes were reassuring, though there was exhaustion in them, too. It was the same fatigue they all felt, the thing that chased them more than the zombies. It gnawed at them daily, made every little task an ordeal, dragged them lower and lower into submission to the new way of things. “We have a place to sleep. We have food for a few days. We have each other,” he urged. His eyes danced just a little, for her sake.

She echoed his smile, though she had to work to make her mouth move. She hadn’t felt a reason to really smile in so long; even the good moments were quickl

y overshadowed by another death, another problem, another strange shadow cast on the wall, another night filled with unearthly moaning, another attack. “That’s all we need,” Jaime agreed and wrapped both boys in her shivering arms. How long before I lose them? How long before I lose myself? Grant carefully struck one of their last matches and lit the candles in the Advent wreath made from barbed wire. His large fingers almost hid the match, but they couldn’t hide the tiny, beautiful spark.

“The first candle symbolizes hope.” The tiny blue flame struggled to stay alive. Jamie ran a hand through her dark, tangled hair and wiped it on her stained jeans to rid her hand of the oil. There hadn’t been a good time to wash it lately, especially with the cold weather. Tony and Andy weren’t particularly put out by not being able to take a bath, but it was a little comfort she missed. Hope.

It’s hard to have hope when Amanda was ripped apart by monsters, she thought, shuddering. She closed her eyes and pushed the thought of her baby away. She replayed the scene in her head constantly: how she’d gone to the nursery to check on her, how she’d found the screen knocked out of the open window, how three ugly corpses had been fighting over the infant’s remains. She’d only escaped because her husband Jason had dragged her away, forcing her to take Tony and Andy with her. She hadn’t seen his fate, but his screams had suddenly stopped when they’d reached the front door. The only reason she’d kept on running was because of her boys. That had been in June.

The only hope I have is that Grant found us, she sighed, and tried to focus on his rugged face and not the determined memory of her husband. Guilt came in bucketfulls when one had nothing else to think about besides surviving and the past.

“The second candle is preparation,” Grant continued, gently talking to the boys as he guided his hands to the next candle, his free hand guarding the little flame. Jamie chewed the inside of her lip and curled the dirty blanket she’d found tighter around her. Who can prepare for something like this? Decades of horror movies, of thinking about the most awful things, and there was still nothing we could all do to prepare for this. She glanced to the gun in her hands, stroked the barrel idly. They were down to their last three bullets unless they could find more. The heavy snowstorm three days ago had deterred the hordes that had been quickly giving chase to anything they considered worth eating, but it also made going on supply runs difficult.

She didn’t even know where they were now, except that they had been heading north towards Canada, where the hordes were supposed to be minimal thanks to the cold. They’d raided the empty downtown area of a small town a few weeks ago, and ended up in an abandoned shack on some abandoned plot of land. There wasn’t much cover so she was always sitting there, waiting for the final attack to come, but the weather had helped, at least. None of it, though, was anything anyone could prepare for. It had just happened. As of yet no one even knew how it had started, or if they did they weren’t sharing. Couldn’t share, more likely. Everyone was so cut off from each other, electricity and phone lines were rare, never mind a wireless signal.

“Joy,” Grant narrated, lighting the next candle, moving the match away at the last minute when Andy reached for it.

“I wanna help!” he complained.

“You’re just gonna ruin it or cut yourself again!” Tony grumbled and hunkered deeper into the hooded sweatshirt that was at least four sizes too big for him. “Butthead.”

Grant grabbed Andy’s arm away before he cut it on the barbed wire of the wreath. “C’mere, you, let’s do it this way,” he chuckled and shook the match out. Jaime watched as he helped her youngest get hold of one of the lit candles, carefully guiding the boy’s movements with his giant hand over the tiny one. “There we go…joy.”

“Joy, joy, joy!” Andy sing-songed. He was always doing that, making up little tunes from something one of them said. It had been cute when they’d lived in a nice house and had only the usual things to worry about. The last time he’d done it he’d alerted a shuffling corpse that had gone off on its own for some reason, though that wasn’t usually part of zombie behavior.

No. You know why that thing was on its own. She cleared her throat and blushed when Tony rolled his eyes. He knew how she covered her emotions all too well. You didn’t cover them up then, did you? You ran out and saw your little boy about to meet the same fate as your baby girl. You did what any mother would have done. She shivered and wrapped the blanket tighter. It was so hard to get warm when she’d lost so much weight and her clothes hung on her. You rushed right out, Grant’s advice be damned, and tore that bastard apart limb from limb. She could still feel the blood oozing over her hands, the cold flesh soft and slimy in her grip and smearing dirt on her clothes. It was only once she’d taken the head and gone to retrieve the pieces for burning that she thought to look at the face.

Jason. The thing after her son was half-eaten and had suffered more decay than any living thing had a  right to, but it had been Jason. It was hard to feel joy after that.

Lost - 400x600

Kindle      Paperback

OR Email on information about signed copies!

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

Genre: various speculative genres

Length: 300 pages

Format: Kindle, Paperback (Nook and other platforms coming soon)

Publisher: Published by the authors

Comic Review Roundup

Published December 2, 2015 by admin

So along with people foolishly inviting my writer-type opinions on their sites, I’ve been invited to guest review for the awesome blog I Smell Sheep. And more than once, too!

Seriously, this is something that’s been a ton of fun so far. While it’s still my policy to not officially review small press or indie books (obviously I still give my general thoughts on library books in my SJ Reads posts), I’m all about reviewing comics and movies if someone’s going to enable me. While I do read a few superhero titles, I have a passion for the fact that graphic novels can really tell stories in a unique way – from realistic titles like Persepolis, The Property, Fun House, or something meant to mirror reality like Maus, to epic stories like Sandman or horror titles like Locke & Key. There are some truly unique titles out there that aren’t getting the love they deserve or people may not know unless they specifically follow a certain title or publisher, so I love the chance to discover new titles and share them with others.

Since these were done for the I Smell Sheep Blog, I’ll spare you full reviews and link you to the actual ones. I’ll have to divide this up because I’ve actually done more than I realized, but here’s the first batch.

Dark Horse Comics Presents # 15 – Admittedly one of the reasons I jumped on board was because I knew the blog had an in with Dark Horse and I had just discovered Finder and I love it with an unholy passion. So when this title came up and featured serialized Finder, I was ready to fight to the bitter end for it. Truly, though, every story in this issue was fantastic and has opened me up to some other titles I can’t wait to check out.

Dead Vengeance 1 -A carnival sideshow act comes to life and tries to figure out who he really is. A lot of flashbacking, but a really interesting set up that reminds me of the older Creepy and Eerie titles.

Dead Vengeance 2 – More information on John Dover’s tragic past, as well as a unique allusion to a possible time travel element, plus it takes us back to the carnival!

Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 1 – Love this. So ridiculous in the best possible ways. Dr. Zomboss tries to take over town with some help from the future…and a metal butt. Brings to mind a lot of the Saturday morning cartoons I used to love watching.

Love Hurts: The Complete Love Hurts (Horrifying Tales of Romance) – Translated from a Swiss comic, I believe, this is amazing. I love this thing. A collection of short stories that blend horror and romance elements, these are twisted, warped, insightful, emotional, and just so inventive I can’t stand it. Loved.






SJ Reads: Bradbury is My Horror Hero #amreading

Published October 30, 2015 by admin

So one of my big author influences is Ray Bradbury. For me, his books are emotional, elegant, unique in plot, and true in characterizations. He’s also a master at literary horror, so I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites of his today. Granted, a lot of his work is short stories, so I’m looking at the books/collections instead that are primarily horror. Those who like the psychological and literary will probably like Bradbury because he generally doesn’t do gore. Granted, he can get disturbing and visceral emotionally, but man, he’s always so elegant about it!

Something Wicked This Way Comes – A classic and probably one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with creepy carnivals. I love the concept of the two neighbor boys born on each side of Halloween, though the dark/light dichotomy is fairly subtle until the ending climax. From the appearance of the lightning rod salesman to the carnival itself, from strange Mr.Dark and Mr. Electrico to the Dust Witch and the magical carousel, this book is hypnotic. The movie really doesn’t do it justice and almost subverts the lessons by slapping on a happy ending for everyone. There are a few sequences here that made me hold my breath the first time I read it in college – it was one of the few books I took the time to read for fun at the time, and I fell in love with it.

From the Dust Returned – This is actually a collection of shorts masterfully formed into a narrative arc. I love this technique and Bradbury truly made it his own. While you can find a lot of the stories in other collections, this really lets each piece shine, and you’ll generally find that these versions are a little different than how you’ll see them in other formats. From Cecy the slumberer to Uncle Einar with wings, from vampire parents and killed cousins who have to share a host to a mummy grandmother, right down to Timothy, the one mortal boy who calls this strange family his own and the odd house his home…this book is odd, unnerving, and emotional. ‘Homecoming’ always gets me, ‘The April Witch’ has made me feel a thousand things as I’ve read it through the years, and the ending just…yeah. Think of it like a very literary Addams’ family, and you will have a blast. As always, Bradbury’s beautiful prose and attention to small town detail make this book.

The October Country – a collection of unconnected shorts, this book really has some chilling components. It has its own version of ‘Homecoming,’ but the stories here generally opt to the creepy side, like they do in ‘The Jar,’ ‘The Wind,’ and other tales. ‘The Next in Line’ is one that always has gotten me, because he just masters the claustrophobic feeling of the catacombs and the slow, building distrust and anxiety of the wife. Particularly in this volume, he’s very good at giving you just enough ending to make you fumble, then jolt once everything connects.

The Halloween Tree – I try to at least get through most of this every year, or at least watch the cartoon version. Truly, the book is the best, though I like that the cartoon adds in a female character who can hold her own (also, Bradbury narrates it and Leonard Nimoy plays Moundshroud!). To be fair, it doesn’t take away from the book to be an all-boy cast for me, because of the general time period it’s set, and it feels so true to life as a group of kids. This is one of those stories that deals with uncomfortable concepts but immerses you so much that you don’t care. When a group of friends has to time travel to save the soul of their dying friend Pipkin under the tutelage of mysterious Mr. Moundshroud, they end up learning the entire history of Halloween. While okay, there is a little historical discrepancy in the Samhain chapter and I wish some things were as fleshed out as others, honestly it’s done so well and the tension is built so tightly that I don’t care.Through it all, the friendship shines through, and this really drives home why humans cling to Halloween. The one place where this really, really excels over the cartoon is the ending – it subtly hints to Mr. Moundshround’s nature in a bittersweet, autumnal epilogue where Tom Skelton thinks over the events of the evening.

Excerpt: The Guru

Published September 14, 2015 by admin

I know, it’s a new week, but I’m probably sleeping the convention off, and I feel like giving you guys something to entertain yourselves with. We’ll get back to rants and weirdness soon enough, I swear.

Sometimes a story comes from a deep emotional place, and a lot of these times that’s a great big fat well of frustration. I can’t remember the situation this stemmed from, but I felt overwhelmed, trapped in a role. I tend to be fairly protective of those around me, and sometimes I probably overdo it, and sometimes I’m sure this gets exploited…or at the very least, people don’t realized that I’m like any other person and get exhausted. It’s also probably true that I try too hard and allow myself to get exhausted. Anyway, I was going through one of those times and suddenly this character of a little old man doomed to listen to other people’s inane questions when he really just wants to be left alone in the quiet and go swimming or something popped into my head, and off I went. this is just a piece of the story, and oddly I remember finding it a little hilarious, just so ridiculous after I wrote it. I have different emotions about this piece depending on how I feel at any given time, which is still really intriguing to me. Plus, I felt it was important to write this because as a reader, I want to know that I’m not alone in my very human feelings. If I can give that empathy and feeling of not being alone to anyone else, I’ve done my job.

I also admittedly wanted humanize the character of the mystic, because I refuse to believe that a person can’t feel negative emotions at some point in their life.


 Down the narrow path to the marketplace he goes, feet treading carefully on loose stones. A mishap could very well make a morning excursion his last habitual task on earth. Yet he always arrives safely in the village below, always goes to the market where he sits on the reed-wood chair. It is the only sign of his status. His wrinkled, dried-fig face could be that of any old man, his worn and ragged robe that of any beggar. He is much more, though his wealth is all inside his head. His appearance and carriage are only proof of his reclusive tendencies, not of who he is.

With slow purpose and movement that resembles a trembling leaf, he sits on his designated chair and waits for the people to come. They will not stop coming all day, even when he leaves to go back to his seclusion. From within each brain, from behind each set of lips pour out questions. Some inventive, but most he hears regularly.

From newly married couples: “What do I do so he doesn’t leave me?” or “Why does she nag me so?”

Young hearts that yearn for their first romance: “What must I do to interest him?” “How shall I keep her?” “What do I do so I do not to interest him too much? Does he love me? How can I make him love me?”

Young parents: “What do I do for colic?” “How do I get him to stop cying?”

Older parents: “Why won’t my child speak to me? How shall I get him to talk?”

Parents who are quite old: “How do I get him to leave my house?”

“What do I do with my life? Who should I be?” ask the young and filled with fear.

“Where do I go now?” ask those who are just afraid. There are the old who want to be proud of their years yet are feeble and filled with questions, for they have nothing left but to think of them. “How can I care for myself now? How can I love, how can I live?”

And there are always the ones that everyone wishes to know. “What is life about? Why is man here? Where do we go next?”

They come from everywhere. New faces show up every day, yet they quickly become old faces with new questions once they learn how accurate he is. He supposes having answers is an addiction, but it is his calling to provide what knowledge he can.

All day long he continues to sit and think and answer. He remembers how as a boy he used to be able to waste a day swimming in the river or walking through the forest. That was before his great gift was discovered. He has desires, too, though no one knows of them. He longs to travel the world, to see cities with tall buildings and deserts where living things have to spend their entire lifetimes surviving. He wants to see deep oceans, lush jungles where there are chirping birds, chittering insects, and the screams of predators. As long as there are no questions, he wants to go there. Silence is what he hopes for most.

At dusk he hobbles up the crooked path, his footsteps swaying between the little trees that try to grow between the rocks. As he flees in his dignified manner the questions of those not content to wait for tomorrow float up behind him, fading to a dull whisper the higher he goes.

“What about the harvest?”

“Am I mad or am I sick?”

“Should I kill my neighbor’s dog if it attacks my cows?”

“Will there be the heavy storms this year?”

Temptation strokes his balding head. “Lie to them,” it whispers in its throaty, beguiling voice. “Make it up and let them fail, then they will leave you be!” Frustration tugs his cottony beard that whispers to his knees. “Tell them where to go! Don’t go down the mountain tomorrow!”

But he is a decent man and casts his eyes to heaven for forgiveness. His throat is too tired to pray.

His hut welcomes him as do his goats. Their irritated cries lift to greet him and even their tone is questioning when he most wants to retreat to his solitude.

“Do you have to be so long?” their baahs seem to say, eyes hard as their foreheads. “Is it dinner time yet? Where were you, Old One, and why do you leave us all day?” He takes the time to milk and feed them. Slowly, tediously he does his chores and it is well beyond twilight when he is finished. He could take on a young boy as a helper or apprentice, send for someone to look after him, but he fears those who would take advantage of a position or the innocent questions of a young and hungry mind.

He eats a simple meal and curls upon his sleeping mat with resignation. He wants so badly to complain and tell someone about his fears, his desires, his pain of knowing

If he only had the courage and callousness to tell those fools to be curious! How he wishes he could tell them to find things out on their own, to learn and be happy with the learning and the knowing! But he is a gentle man graced with a large mind, but a small voice and timid disposition. He has no one to talk to. Not his departed, blessed wife; not his parents who instilled his curious nature; no teacher or friend or mentor.


Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

Excerpt: Across the Universe

Published September 10, 2015 by admin

Today’s excerpt is again from Lost in the Shadows, and it’s one of those stories where the idea hit me hard but it took me a while to give myself permission to write it. I’m not a hard sci-fi writer by any means, but I love the more emotional and literary work of Ray Bradbury. Plus, when I heard a radio report about how the song Across the Universe had been beamed into space, well, I couldn’t not write this. This is also one of those stories that prompted Susan to ask what the hell was going on in my head at any given moment, heh. This is only a small part of the story, but it’s very much a love letter to one of my favorite authors as well as my deep connection to music. In the story a group of select criminals with a generations-old grudge set out to obliterate a certain planet, but run into a rather odd communication signal in the meantime.


“Excellent,” Spaulding purred. “I don’t need to remind you all how important this is. Failure is unacceptable. If you fail the Coordinators attempt for any reason and live, I have permission to execute you myself.” It wasn’t an empty threat. Her own strength was that she’d come from a long line of murderers. While that wasn’t particularly atypical on Planet 1312, the Spaulding line had turned it into an art form. It wasn’t that she was sadistic, although she could be, or brutal, though she had been. It was that she knew when to use her gift and how to use it to the fullest ability.

That was the trait every one of them shared. They were the experts the inhabitants of Planet 1312 strived to be. After all, in a society populated entirely by descendants of criminals, it was still important to take pride in one’s worth and strive to be the very best.

Long ago, when Earth had just begun to get a handle on long-range space travel, its first uses hadn’t been for exploration or discovery, but exploitation. With NASA’s influence fading, private corporations had funded the technology in hopes of opening up a new vacation industry, not to mention the opportunities colonization could bring.

First, though, the shuttles had to be tested. Times being what they were, they had ben filled with the overflow from prisons, homeless shelters, and even a few of the more vocal dissident groups had been plucked off the streets to fill space along with a handful of daring, clueless scientists. Family members and friends had simply disappeared from their lives and work one day. Some of their relations had never found out that they weren’t dead, but in a stark metal box hurtling through space.

After a good year of travel, the shuttle landed on Planet 1312. It was further than the shuttle should have traveled, but those that had volunteered (or had been volunteered) to lead the expedition were well-aware that kinks in the system still had to be worked out. It wasn’t until they tried to arrange their return flight that they realized there wasn’t enough fuel to get back to Earth and thesupply logs had been doctored. Only then was the full scope of the plan realized by those stranded on the planet.

They were well out of reach of communication, but the planet was fortuitously habitable if one didn’t mind reverting back to primal instincts. Many died in the following centuries. Those that didn’t never forgot their hardened roots or their betrayal. Miraculously, through luck and sheer force of will, the little society adapted and evolved, eventually regaining some semblance of technology and standard of living. Now, nearly a thousand years later, their descendants were returning home to deliver a long-overdue thank you gift.

The captain smiled a cruel little grin, the only admission of pleasure she’d allow herself during such a serious mission. “And you’re certain we shall meet with no retaliation?”

“We shouldn’t. Our communications and data retrieval are slow, to be sure, but reports over the past ten years indicate that attention is focused inward. All surrounding colonies have been called back to help with the war that’s been going on,” Natalo replied, her lovely face turned stern as she focused on the readouts glowing across her screen.

“If they’re so desperate to destroy themselves, we’ll be happy to help them out,” Kirksan quipped. The others snickered and although the lack of focus irritated Spaulding, she allowed it. It wasn’t like there would be time for celebration afterwards if things went according to plan.

As expected, everyone went right back to what they were doing after their mirth was spent. There wasn’t time for wasted emotions. Anger and a long-taught need for vengeance had followed them all their lives. The story of their civilization and how they would make Earth pay was one of the first bedtime stories they all heard, the first school lessons, even the first Sunday School lessons. There was no room for empathy or titillation, just as it was too dangerous to get too angry or caught up in their eventual upper hand. Their entire planet had only the one ship, the one bomb, the one chance.

“Approaching now. Shall I bring us out of lightspeed, captain?” Godren asked.

“Go ahead,” she replied, her grey eyes as sharp and severe as the rest of her. “Weapons?”

“Locked and loaded,” Kirkan said.

“Any resistance detected?”

“None so far, but I’ll have a better idea in a few minutes when we slow down,” Natalo soothed.

“They’re too wrapped up in their own drama,” Godren muttered under his breath.

“Be that as it may, we cannot assume anything,” Kardra reminded them. They meant well, but they required a firm hand to keep total focus. Luckily she had always had an unwavering hand, whether it was holding a knife to someone’s throat or poisoning the water supply of the neighboring community when they’d kidnapped her brother over a supply battle. “Our systems are barely up to what we remember from Earth’s capabilities ages ago.”

“If they’re so advanced, then why weren’t we spotted and dealt with yet?” Kirkan pointed out.

It was a fair question. Captain Spaulding would have loved to come up on the planet, guns blazing, but a stealth approach was necessary. All they had was the one bomb, some basic laser cannons, and their ramshackle shields. Their speed was still not as advanced as the intel they’d gleamed on Earth’s fighter crafts eight years ago. She’d love to believe the whole planet was not paying attention, that the lunar and martian colonies were truly vacant and unable to warn the arrogant fools. She wouldn’t bet on it, though. The tendency for caution had not only kept her alive, but made her successful. It’s good to expect the other shoe to drop, she reminded herself.

A light on the console flashed and something pinged a tinny, sing-song of a noise. It was a quietly mocking noise.
I knew it, Karda thought, and her fist clenched, her mind swept up in black clouds.

Everyone’s breath in the little cabin caught and stopped.

The console pinged again.

“What is it?” the captain barked, straining to keep the tension out of her voice. Coolness and calm. You are the leader. Though if their whole society had worked so hard and so long only for them to be shot down now…
“It’s just a comm message,” Natalo reassured them. As one, the crew of the unnamed ship exhaled. “It’s that transmission we intercepted a while back. It’s finally coming through on our hunk of junk system.” She paused, scrolled through the readout, and hit a few keys. “Would you like me to play it? It looks fairly antiquated.”

Spaulding paused and considered. It would take their system a few minutes to fully slow and get into attack position and even antiquated information could prove useful. “Ready the obliterator. Lock in the coordinates and continue deceleration,” she ordered before addressing Natalo. “Go ahead. At the very least it will give us something to listen to while the obliterator is primed.” The crew followed her commands with utmost precision.

She was proud that her voice sounded as composed as it did. In less than thirty minutes, we’ll be dead and our names will be sung in future war anthems. Our faces will be painted in the Hall of the Brave in the capital. She said nothing of this or the sudden rush of violence and pleasure that their long-awaited victory gave her. If only I had time to spill blood one last time before the end…that would make it all perfect. The calloused fingertips that had strangled their share of the opposition felt fuzzy and awkward from the rush of adrenaline. Looking around the cramped space proved that although her crew was trying to keep poker faces in place, they were squirming and fidgeting from their own excitement. Although they kept on task their faces held the same hungry, feral feeling Captain Karda Spaulding felt echoing through her.

Natalo opened the comm frequency and cued up the signal they’d recorded while still in deep space. For a moment there was silence, then static. “I don’t know how great the quality will be,” she admitted. “It’s ancient and our systems aren’t the best—oh,” she breathed, then snapped her pouting lips shut tight. Her shoulders hitched and chest heaved a few times before she reigned herself back in check.

Patyn and Kirksan sat up straight with sharp intakes of breath. Even Godren drew himself to attention, as grizzled by hard living as he was. Spaulding herself let out a sharp gasp, as though the sound was a dagger blade that sliced straight into her soul.

Music. Of all the things to intercept, it was music.

Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.


Reminder: I’ll be at the Imaginarium Convention all this weekend, so come on out to Louisville to meet me and some other amazing authors! I’ll even sign Lost in the Shadows for you right there!

Also, you have until Sept 17 to enter the Night Owl Book Reviews contest – be sure to check around my blog for a hidden entry word…(pssst, go look at my books!)

Short: September Children

Published September 9, 2015 by admin

Since today is my birthday (feel free to leave your gratuitous praise and adoration in the comments), I figured I’d post something appropriate. Since it’s a con week, I am going to be lazy and totally pimp my excerpts all this week because I am old and I can.

It is a known fact that people born in September are the best. They just are. No argument. Any argument just means you’re jealous. Other September babies have read this and totally agree with me, so we win. Granted, I find this month interesting because it can straddle summer and fall, though I identify more with the fall side. Without getting into the whole myth and legend of the birthing of SJ, here is a little short from Lost in the Shadows, all about my feelings on September.

You should totally buy the book, by the way. Since it’s my birthday and all.


September children are full of the light of the harvest moon. They are permeated by the sweet acrid musk of the smoke from burning leaves and the last of the barbecues. A child born in September acknowledges summer, relaxes in winter, but knows the real magic of the year comes with the falling of leaves and planting of pumpkins. They feel the pressure to like the start of school and they do for a week. But the distractions of the colors, the impending crisp air are enough to drive a true September child away from the books to walk down little side streets and paths in the woods to search for the remaining chipmunks and squirrels.

A September child always feels a little cheated that their mothers couldn’t keep them in the womb till October, but feel blessed that they came before the disappointment of November, the end of the real magic time of year. The winter may have its holidays, but it relies on marketing and icons to make it inviting.

A September child’s lips are kissed with cider and their cheeks are made for stuffing away doughnuts and sugary cookies. Their hair smells like deep sapphire sky no matter what the color and they haunt apple orchards, cemeteries, and destroy piles of leaves left carelessly to be crunched under their delighted feet.

September children are broody, stuck in a transition month with no real holidays. Labor Day and Grandparents Day pale in comparison to Halloween or Christmas. Being part summer and part autumn have made them determined. They watch for opportunity and adventure in their introverted hideaways in backyards. They feel no apologies for their month ending summer freedom and only a little jealousy at the months to come. But a smile from a September child means promise of things lurking in the future. They get things done. You can see possibility and fall sky in their open, wide eyes. They’re overlooked like so many others, but it helps their dreams and plottings for everyone else to be so distracted.

Their wrath is the lick of trash-burning flames, laughter the incoming of crows, their pleasure that of children playing tag on the way home from the first lazy week of school before the work really starts. September children are often ignored but full of possibility, the inhalation of breath before the year continues on, the thoughts and empty space before meditation. September children know how to live, most of all

Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.


In the Louisville area this weekend? Come see me at Imaginarium Convention and get a signed copy of Lost in the Shadows for your very own!

Also, be sure to go hunting for the hidden word on my blog and enter the Night Owl Reviews scavenger hunt before Sept 17! (hint: go look through the links at the top of the page…)