Queen & Other Stories is now on sale in both print and digital formats. The free sample alone gets you one complete story (D.T.F.) and a whistle-wetting chunk of another (Tradition). The back-matter teases a fraction of the stories, so here are a couple others for you:
The Columbus Ghost Caper — The ghost of a betrayed bank robber pulls off one last heist to grant his family–and his accomplice–peace of mind.
Kettletop’s Revisionary Plot — A desperate scientist goes back in time in order to prevent the original release of the Z Virus and save his wife. (This is sure to work.)
A Nice Life — A retired cop whose life is irrevocably scarred by criminals takes the law into his own hands in the middle of a dry, desert night.
I am now taking pre-orders for QUEEN & Other Stories, a novel-length collection of my horror and dark science fiction work which includes selections from my two previous small-press short story collections, pieces that made their debut in various anthologies, a handful of no longer available Amazon shorts and, of course, some brand new works. The thirteen short stories and one novella include:
Tradition: A widow and a group of her late husband’s friends take a stab at a cathartic hunting trip in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.
Old Stooping Lugh: Irish and Italian gangsters run afoul of an ancient Celtic deity in 1920’s Boston.
Nice to Matter: The secret origin of a superhero cop’s prostitute sidekick.
The Bad Place: A little girl discovers the secret behind her brother’s disappearance–and an outlandish time-travel plan to save her from their abusive father that might do more harm than good.
Queen: A middle-aged woman in a frigid marriage discovers her experimental age-defying treatment may be something more than skin deep.
QUEEN & Other Stories will be self-published. I expect the Kindle version to go live in January, followed by the paperback edition in March. I’m taking pre-orders through Indiegogo, but I consider this to be more of a traditional pre-order than a fundraiser–there won’t be any crazy perks, just ways to order different editions of the book and either get them before anyone else or have them signed. My sole nods in the direction of bells and whistles are a Book Club package including a one-hour Skype chat, and my donation of ten percent of any money raised above my goal to the Horror Writers’ Association‘s Hardship Fund.
I’ll be using the funds raised to pay a cover artist and publicist, and to purchase copies of the book for sale at conventions and local signings. Though I’ve been published traditionally since 2006, I’ve had the occasional flirtation with self-publishing and want to finally take the plunge with a full-length, single-author work. Success in this venture will lead to more efforts of this nature, to include novella and full-length novel releases. Even if you can’t afford to purchase a copy, please consider sharing the link with your social networks.
Forget the impulse to say, “Ah, a perfect society would be boring.” It is true that without anything to contrast evil or wrongdoing you cannot effectively determine goodness or altruism to its greatest measure. Yet, imagine a world where political structures actually served the people in the most efficient way possible? Imagine then the citizens of that world accepting they cannot have everything their way all of the time. Imagine no famine, no disease, no violent crimes, no drug overdoses, no psychological or sexual abuse. Not to keep John Lennoning with all these imagines, but imagine that world for a while. Utopia. Everybody is content with their lot in life. Everybody’s dreams are realized. The human race only endeavors to discover more about itself and the universe, to increase science, to calm religious fanaticism, to achieve perfection in everything. I don’t find it as terrifying as some have envisioned—that somehow we’d need to be stripped of our identities in order to achieve the utopian ideal. Negative traits should be amputated from everybody for the good of everybody. Leave every worthwhile trait behind. “And who makes that outrageous decision?” cries the fuming libertarian. Well, that’s the fantasy part. The ideal is discovered and through struggle, agreement and / or reconciliation, it is then employed and we’re all made into more productive, beautiful creatures.
Give me a break about the trials of immortality. Often you see the sullen vampire lament for the days of being human, where its flesh and innards could slowly rot or become diseased. To hell with that. I want to see the future. One hundred years is not enough. A thousand is not enough. It would be far more exciting if people chose their own deaths: when, where and why. Suicide would be a civic duty. If you’re bored, you are free to go. If you want to hang out until the end of the universe, it’s all good.
Traveling at the speed of light
Alien planets are only getting farther away from us. If we’re going to supersize our imprint on the universe, lightspeed must be achieved soon. I’m not asking much. Lightspeed still doesn’t get you around the universe as quickly as necessary to make trips to potential living worlds. With this option though, we could infest other planets and grow as a species, perhaps signaling other evolutionary paths. Hey, at some point, we might arrive to a planet and come upon a life-form we consider alien but is only a later version of homo sapien that got stranded there. I want twisted stuff like that to happen and freak people out. Without traveling at the speed of light though, we’re just circling the toilet bowl, waiting for our sun to go hypernova. Get on it astrophysicists!
From Bram Stoker Award winning author Benjamin Kane Ethridge.
June Nilman is a woman with thousands of personalities in her head and none of them are her own. Stricken with amnesia and trapped in a room in an abandoned hospital, her caretaker, Nurse Maggie, wants her to remain captive forever. At night June hears creatures patrolling in and out of the hospital, and in time discovers Maggie has mental control over them. In planning her escape, June has an extensive catalogue of minds to probe for help, but dipping into the minds of her mental prisoners is often a practice in psychological endurance. Escape seems impossible until June discovers a rat hole in the wall– the starting point of her freedom.
But freedom in this war-torn world may be more dreadful than she ever imagined.
Dungeon Brain is a locked room mystery of the body and mind that expands across the realms of science fiction and horror.
Nice to Matter, the secret origin of a superhero cop’s prostitute sidekick, was originally written for inclusion in CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? I’m not against editors including their own work in their anthologies, but I didn’t want to cut a great story from another author in order to make room, either. It was a giveaway for a month or so in advance of CORRUPTS’ publication and later, a standalone story for sale on Amazon. I could definitely see myself writing a comic about the Black Streak and her world in the future, a sentiment echoed by several of my readers.
James was more excited than I’d ever seen him. “This will put us on the map,” he said. “Get us national attention. Superheroes who’ve actually taken down a supervillain are a very exclusive group.” I was eager for the fight myself, to be completely honest. Putting Dom away had been the highlight of my career to date, and even that accomplishment was tempered by keeping my identity a secret. Dom didn’t know it was me, and Natasha Fox’s real victory belonged to the Black Streak. I threw myself into every task Top Cop assigned me. We studied the floor plan of the bank and the surrounding infrastructure for two straight nights. Another two were spent roaming the streets trying to uncover the Badger’s hiding place.
On the third night of the search, I found it. I’d seen a pattern in the locations of the Badger’s past crimes, and had been tracing and retracing particular beats each night, dressed in civilian clothes. Around midnight, I found him, smoking a cigar in a parking lot outside an abandoned warehouse. While I lurked in the shadows and watched from across the street, a large armored truck pulled up. A guy got out and talked to Farrell for a few minutes, then got back in and drove off. The Badger stubbed out his smoke and went back inside. I remember how cold I felt inside when it hit me what was going on. The heist was happening tonight! I crept into the parking lot, pulled my phone out of my purse and turned away from the building. James didn’t answer. I tried two more times without any response. He was handling something else. I was on my own. I’d no sooner realized that, than I felt movement behind me.
I started writing The Bad Place in 2007 or 2008. I don’t remember what I initially intended the piece to be, but I set it aside right around the point where Joey disappeared. I picked it up again in 2009 and re-imagined it as a time-travel piece. It didn’t make the final cut for the anthology I submitted it to, but I don’t feel bad, because several years later, there’s still no anthology or word from the editor, either. This story, however, became a well-received standalone short on Amazon.
Daddy slammed into Joey, nearly driving him to the ground. The knife fell from his hand, but he managed to stay on his feet.
“Judy—“ he choked as Daddy wrapped his large, thick fingers around his neck and squeezed. Joey managed the couple feet separating himself from Judy, pushed her into the Bad Place and slammed the door.
“Joey!” It was dark inside and Judy couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t hear any noise from the kitchen, either. When she reached for the doorknob, it was stuck.
“Joey!” She pounded on the door in frustration, kicked at it until her feet hurt and finally sank to the floor.
Suddenly, she felt something shift, like she was on a carousel. She felt dizzy and nauseous, and crawled to the far corner of the closet to vomit up her breakfast. The sensation passed as fast as it came. When it did, she opened her eyes to discover the back wall of the closet was gone.
She stared out across the side yard at her neighbor’s house. The intervening stretch of lawn was littered with scraps of metal, and a deep trench had been plowed into several feet of earth, terminating a few inches into the closet. It occurred to her to try the door again, and she did. This time it opened.
“Joey? Daddy?” No one answered. There was no noise, no sign that the two men had even been there, or that there had been a fight. The kitchen was dim; the only light streamed through the window over the sink. The countertops were chipped, one corner even broken off, exposing worn-smooth particle board. There were rust stains in the dingy porcelain sink basin and a mishmash of pots and dishes littered the work areas.
Judy crept to the living room. The furniture was all there, pretty much just like she’d remembered it, but the carpet was faded and torn in places, as was the upholstery of the couches and Daddy’s big recliner. The television sat in the corner, coated in dust, and piles of books and papers littered one corner of the room. As she looked around, trying to figure out what was going on, she heard a loud hum. It sounded like it was coming from the back of the house.