Stephanie Woods

When I was in high school and for the first couple of years of college, I wrote under a pen name, “Stephanie Woods”. This actually becomes the name of a character I’m writing about in my novel Wings, but I did write fairly prolifically under this name, and I no longer have copies of my work.

Just a short note to young writers: Keep copies of your work! You may not decide ever to use the manuscripts but you never know when they may be found to be important, or useful in reminiscing, or a good reminder of how far you have come.

As for Stephanie Woods, I gave away a couple of disks’ worth of her collected works to friends, so I don’t know if those files ever were printed out and kept somewhere. If anyone out there sees this message and knows who I am and knew me in the 1980s and early 1990s well enough to have gotten a disk full of stories, I’d love to have copies of them back.

Many thanks,


Elizabeth Bent, Ph.D.

PS: I never used other aliases but it’s possible when I lived in California and elsewhere, starting in about 2003, my work (mostly in the form of creative concepts) was submitted under another name somewhere, or my ideas used by third parties inserting themselves into the chain of communication by pretending to be agents or editors or managers, and removing my name completely from credit for work, as well as from payment. It’s impossible for me to predict all the possible names. I think Jill Turklington was one. There were others that I no longer can recall. Zelda Schmiflitz, I think, too. “Spelled like it sounds” was a joke I often told with that one. Possibly some alphanumerics. And I recall using the moniker “No Name”, or “Woman With No Name”. If anyone has information about any of these names and whether they’ve come across creative concepts supplied by such, I would like a chance to learn more. For reasons too complex to explain here I never could find out anything about these interactions at or around the time they probably occurred (I’m writing about that as well). I feel if someone has been stealing from me they deserve to be sued, and if people have committed bank or mail fraud, or entered my home without permission, this needs to be addressed also.

Five new short stories

Hello, readers!

As a challenge to myself, I decided this week, since I don’t really have much else going on while I wait for things, I would finish a short story every day. I have struggled off and on with writer’s block for most of a decade, and so simply being able to create new worlds and finish the stories in one day is a great exercise for me.

I am pleased to announce that each weekday this week I’ve written and finished a new short story, and I’m poised to finish off the week tomorrow with one I’ve wanted to write for some time. The stories include Coffee Grounds, about a witch using coffee in her spells, Crackers, about how a cook unexpectedly manages to endanger the United States with cheese crackers, Tentacles, about a strange house cleaning entity gifted by a fairy from a frozen TV dinner, and Flowers for Jasmin, about a miracle generated by a dying teenager’s last wishes. I have also, the weekend prior, written Improv, about a beginner’s improvisation performance that opens up a black hole.

These stories are fairly short, about 1000-5000 words, and so I think I’ll focus on creating an anthology for Smashwords (although I do plan on researching publishers of short stories to see if any of them can be sold individually). I am also looking into the feasibility of making recordings of myself reading these short stories aloud, and collecting the assemblage of them into a podcast series. These are weird, interesting and often funny fantasy and science fiction stories that I think would find an audience, although I currently a large platform. The exercise of reading them aloud and having the recordings edited might be a good one for me, especially if I can figure out a way to power what recording gear I own in my bedroom closet (currently the quietest place in my home).

I’m currently editing these stories, revising as needed, and I plan on releasing short excerpts of each on this website when I am finished with this process.

My earlier short story, the longest one I’ve written of the recent series of them (titled Hamlet’s Play) is on its third draft and I plan on releasing an excerpt of that one as well.

I had previously envisioned a fairly fun, darkly humorous series involving annoying or criminal people being dragged into Hell earlier this year, and I even repurposed an old website for the project (although I feel it doesn’t really require it). I had wanted to reread Doctor Faustus but since my visions of both Hell and the demons inhabiting that realm are probably going to be different than Goethe’s, I think that I can just start writing my stories. I need to do a little planning for these since I would like to have recurring characters whose homes and interactions need to be created first, but I have started on that and the process is going nicely. I’m titling this series Mephistopheles’ Diary and I plan on focusing on it after I’m done with my current story writing exercise.

I still have my notes for October 6th (I really must think of a better name), and since that requires some actual screenplay formatting- these will be scripts for television- I still have some research to do. Because I am aware that breaking into television and/or film is not really that easy, I’m writing these mostly as an exercise, though I think that I might be able to turn the series into a radio play fairly affordably someday.

I also haven’t forgotten my novellas Perigee and Anagama, both of which are in my editing pile. It occurs to me that reading these aloud in installments might make for an interesting podcast series as well, provided that I can take into account the varying lengths of my chapters. My voice acting abilities may or may not be up for the task. This would be much more difficult than reading very short stories aloud, and I think for this I’d need to pay for professional audio editing help, and probably professional recording help, so it’s something I will consider only if I have affordable options, and recordings of my reading other works do well enough.

And finally, I have my short science fiction novel Inifinity, which at 65,000 or so words is too short for a first novel submission (I can rant at length about why I think these arbitrary word counts on manuscripts are stupid). I have set it aside to rest and I will dig it out and “fluff” it up to an acceptable word count, and then attempt to find a publisher. Now that I have a green card I feel like I can look for a US agent or publisher and I won’t be breaking any laws.

If you know me and are interested in reading drafts of any of my works and providing feedback, please contact me and I’ll be happy to send you something.

Hamlet’s Play: The short story

Hello! I had an interesting day. It passed very quickly, as I was lost on an isolated island in the middle of an ocean, somewhere in the world I created in the pages of a new short story.

I still have to proofread and edit it a fair bit. I have asked for feedback. I like the premise a lot, and I may someday expand it into scripts or chapters, and release it as a longer or more complicated work. But I am pleased that I managed as much as I did today.

It’s a bit over 5000 words, so not very long, but I haven’t written a complete story in a very long time, and I am pleased that I managed to create one today.

I plan on crafting a cover for it, and then releasing it as an ebook on Smashwords. I also haven’t written a lot on that website, and I think I need to start just writing little stories like this and releasing them a little more often. I had several ideas for my silly spy series, The Adventures of Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, and I had fun writing the stories that are present on that website.

This new story, Hamlet’s Play, is of course inspired by a lot of the posts I had made of the same name (and which I took down); it’s different, though. The tone and details are different. I often have a problem finding unique names for all my story ideas when the stories have similar themes.

Hamlet’s Play is extremely dark and I would keep it away from children. It is an exploration of many ideas which have been on my mind, lots of what might be dreams or might be actual traumatic events, and it’s not a full exploration of those but I needed this story to be readable. It’s darker than my series October 6th, which is peppered with dark humor. I need to come up with a better name for October 6th, which describes the psychological manipulation of a kidnapped woman placed in a weird university-like environment called The Campus. She has to remember a crime she was witness to, and the criminal responsible, while dealing with a lot of buried memories and people trying to force her to forget.

For those that may be concerned, my actual memories of my life are not quite so dire as what I detail in Hamlet’s Play, although there are many elements of my past which are, indeed, factually true and which I included in the story. I won’t say which.

I will have to think of how to word a content warning. I hope if you decide to delve into the psychological horrors I endure on a daily basis, you are prepared.

Standalone version of Perigee now out of print

I pulled my standalone version of my science fiction novella Perigee out of print- there will be copies available on Amazon and other booksellers for a while but no more will be printed.

I made this decision because I have decided to combine Perigee with its sequel novella Anagama, and throw in a couple of short stories as well. I also want to fix some systemic flaws which have existed in Perigee from the start, such as incorporating elements of a distant friend’s story into it- I feel like the work will be stronger and better without them, and I also will avoid any claims of co-authorship or demands for rights from this friend if I manage to write a screenplay and it sells.

I’ve been taking my time with this because I would rather produce good writing than rapidly assembled words, and I have been focusing on a business plan for the next stage in my scientific career.

Here is a short excerpt of writing from Perigee‘s Chapter One: I had a little trouble with formatting in this blog post, but the basic idea should be clear.

She opened her eyes and spread her arms; like wings, the dust of comets showered in a bright streak over her shoulders and back, into the blackness.

Don’t look back

A naked red planet floated in the distance. She looked at it dispassionately. She had spent so many years staring at this planet, at its crust, its substructures, the fabric of its being, that she felt she knew it inside and out, like a lover.

Don’t look back

There was a painful contraction of her insides, as if a harpstring tightly wound between her larynx and her solar plexus had suddenly, violently, been pulled. The small red planet tumbled. Meridian focused on it, extended one hand, willing it to come to life. She frowned, concentrating on the things it would need: water, plants, microbial life. She was aware that she had done this before, many times in fact. Disconnected images flowed through her mind: maps, charts, chemical formulae.  These were comfortable things, things she understood. Vials of life thawing innocently in her white-gloved hands, the microbial machinery that would help reconstruct a world and keep it healthy.

But there was something behind her—

Don’t look back

Meridian shook her head, but the images kept coming. Her hands, manipulating tubes, gels, huge robotic machines. Rows of small circular wells in a transparent plastic plate, colored yellow, blue, purple. Hairy fungal mats growing on flat white biofiltration screens, embryonic cloned plants suspended in tissue culturing gels, the massive silver chemostats in which the terraforming bacteria grew, sloshing about in a pale brown froth. The small red planet, pinned in the viewscreens of the mother ship like a specimen under a microscope, slowly growing clouds. Meetings, countless meetings, with other faces in the flesh or on computer screens, slowly and carefully mapping out the guts of a colony, of a world.

Something was definitely behind her.

It was gaining momentum.

The awakening planet, her shipboard laboratory, the guts of a colony—water lines, sewer lines, waste composters and biofilters—images of these things rotated silently around her like a carousel.  There was something else, though. She felt sick with fear and dread, she didn’t want to look, but she could feel it, beating reproachfully at her insides, forcing her neck muscles to turn her head.

Don’t look—

Meridian looked over her shoulder.

Suddenly she was back in the oncology unit in the new colony hospital, one year ago, her fists on the glass, watching helplessly as the nurses hovered over him, fumbled with the defibrillator, syringes; the cool glass pressed against her skin as the glowing lines that registered his heartbeat, his brain activity, spasmed once, then twice. She cried out to him, wordlessly: please, don’t leave, don’t go. The nurses lay the defibrillator on his emaciated chest once more, and the thin body jerked. Please, Meridian prayed. Please, David, come back. The lines lay flat. Again the charge was applied, and again; what was left of his beautiful body was being tortured, she couldn’t watch any more. He had gone. She spoke his name, a croak past the tremendous pain in the back of her throat. He couldn’t hear her; he would never hear her again, and as the pain built and spread throughout her ribcage there was nothing she could do except slide to the white floor, and lie there, unmoving, like a corpse.

Russians and enemies

Hello, readers!

I’ve apparently been discovered by Russian spambots, as I now have over half of the spam from my feedback form showing up in Cyrillic. There is not a single legitimate message, so I actually do not feel too badly for hardly ever checking it.

I also have been busy with some personal housecleaning of old, expired friendships with people who don’t deserve my time. I gave it some thought and I decided that the Spartan or false nature of the affections given to me by different people in this group all added up to a pretty shitty pile of abuse.

I ordinarily would not share this sort of thing here, but as with much of my psychological processing, this entire process of analyzing my past, evaluating the worth of each individual, and determining if they merit keeping has inspired me to concoct a set of stories. I am keeping the details under wraps but it will be quite cathartic, and involves infernal justice.

I mentioned in my last post that I’d like to try my hand at writing a series of scripts and then attempting to make recordings of them in podcast form, and then releasing the set one episode at a time once I have the entire set finished (I cannot guarantee consistent productivity with podcasting and so it’s important for continuity and a successful series release that I do my podcasting this way, instead of trying to record content one week at a time).

I’m thinking that my new series might make a fun and for many people, relatable set of scripts, although I am my only resource for voice acting, so I’d have to read entire stories without any voice training. I am trying to decide if I should write short stories, where one person can read the stories aloud, or if I should write actual radio play type scripts meant to be acted by multiple people, and including sound effects. I have no resources to do the latter, but I admit if I could afford it, I would prefer that.

My personal drama has inspired a few other ideas, some of them kind of bizarre, to do with the shape of my life and whether people in it that I had sort of automatically given trust to deserve it, and I have general concepts for additional installments in my quasi-autobiography (a set of interconnected stories detailing themes or series of events in my life, which may or may not be literally true, but which make for really interesting tales). I won’t describe these here except to say that the Soviet Union makes an appearance in one of them.

And finally, I am still inspired to add yet more plot points to the outline I have for a series that I really would like to see made into a TV show, mostly because I think it lends itself best to a visual storytelling format; I started out calling it October 6th, and it’s inspired by a lot of my life’s events, most of them true, some imagined, I am sure. My lucky escape from what I think was supposed to be a double murder framed as a murder-suicide is central to this story and yes, I really do recall events which are deeply disturbing, and while the nature of trauma is such that I may be wrong about details, I’m not wrong about some things I’ve remembered for over 15 years now.

I’ve toyed with trying to take some of my ideas and roll them into a concept like “circle of co-conspirators tries to make mentally ill woman, who is ill because of complex PTSD caused by abuse and is not actually psychotic, suffer in ways that genuinely happen but are so bizarre that no one believes her” but I think that this was already covered in the film GASLIGHT and probably other stories as well. The adage “Just because you are paranoid, it does not mean they are not out to get you” holds for many of the strange ideas I have had.

I may or may not be the victim of a conspiracy, but what matters to me is that I am standing up for myself and removing toxic relationships from my life, while at the same time being inspired by the psychological process of discovery of how toxic these relationships were. I am not lying when I say I have upwards of 80 project ideas centering on different stories, of varying genres. I am, each day, constantly inspired by things I read, hear, think of, or experience.

I am unsure how to write up my podcast series, so I would like to consider that a little longer while I work on the pilot episode of October 6th (I should probably format that title differently, but it did start out as a short story). I have the entire episode plotted, I just have to write it up and put in more details about some scenes and settings, but essentially, the main work is done. My work on that was derailed when I started focusing on data analysis ideas and started to teach myself about drone and satellite image acquisition, analysis, and data uses, all work which I think may help me find a job once I am allowed to seek employment in the USA. I will be working once again on the image stuff in coming weeks, but for this coming weekend, if I get a chance to sit quietly I plan on fleshing out the notes I’ve made for my pilot episode. I have no idea what to do with it next, aside from letting it sit and going back to it later, but I will feel better for having finished some writing.

Thank you if you read this far, and if you are a Russian bot, no, I do not want to buy Cialis.

How I’m doing

Hello, readers! I went through my blog and took down a number of posts that I thought were too free with information on works in progress, or which I thought were a little too personal.

I’ve been focusing on data analytics for most of 2020 instead of doing much creative writing; I have had some pretty good ideas which I think will be very useful to someone and I’m pleased with that.

I did try my hand at a podcast but find the constant pace of having to create and edit and upload new content on a regular basis was too much for me, so I just am leaving the one episode up (it might have unpublished automatically after some time, since I used a free service). I am thinking my next efforts in podcasting will involve making a series of shows, and then editing them and having them ready to upload so I can simply do one a week, and not worry about being debilitated from illness (I am bipolar).

It’s been a little frustrating. I’ve spent most of 2020 working on or waiting for a green card application to go through and that means I can’t do anything really useful- I can’t work, I can’t volunteer, and I’m stuck at home most days just amusing myself. This is fine, it has given me ample time to think and as I indicated above, I have come up with what might be some very important ideas. I can’t really go into detail about all of them, except to say I might have had some groundbreaking thoughts about data analysis, AND, this is very important- eat yogurt containing probiotics. It’s generally good for you anyway but if there are antinflammatory bacteria in the yogurt (the average person won’t know but odds are your “good” or probiotic bacteria do this), it might be really helpful right around now. Why I think this has its basis in current research to do with COVID-19 and how it may work, and cytokine storms, and how certain strains of bacteria interact with the human body. It’s just a working hypothesis, I can’t do any experiments.

I’ve been working off and on (mostly off- this year has been stressful) on several projects, and need to sit and make notes about many new ideas I’ve had. I’m up to over 80 project ideas, all of which remain unfinished- I realized belatedly after thinking I was finished with Anagama and Infinity that they are too short for standard publishers, the first being a novella and the second being a very short novel. I deleted a rant of mine about novel lengths, but basically I think the days of a short but pithy science fiction novel (I am thinking here of the gem Fahrenheit 451) are done. This enrages me but it’s not my call, I’m not a publisher. Personally, I’d rather buy a short novel from an unknown author than some giant fat thing that I might not love and have to wade through anyway to get my money’s worth- longer is not always better!

I self-published Perigee but it also is too short, and I reread it recently and wish to change the introduction, and add in some more of Avesta’s backstory- and perhaps make Meridian a little more interesting. I wrote this novel originally in 2001 to cheer myself up and unfortunately I made the main character kind of flat, having more fun with all the others. I republished in 2013 and it was better, but I really needed to think about adding in more about Avesta. I also have considered pairing Perigee with Anagama in a kind of compilation, maybe with an additional story to say the things I would like to about Avesta and perhaps some other characters, but I don’t know a publisher that would want to do this sort of unusual arrangement for a new writer like myself.

So none of my many project ideas are finished, and most exist only as concepts, but I think once I get my footing and can afford to hire someone to help me edit my stories and provide professional feedback, I’ll start making good progress.

Wish me luck!

Nutbuster and the Helicopter Mom

I wrote this little piece for a friend, for Christmas. They requested a story about squirrels and helicopter moms.

Steve was a man of simple wants. He loved good food, fine wine, and spending time in the park with his squirrel. It was a matter of debate whether or not Steve was in control of the squirrel, or the squirrel was in control of him. Nutbuster wore a small pink sequined cape emblazoned with the letter N, and a tiny pink and white luchador mask when out at the park, fighting crime. Steve usually offered support, as a human a hundred times the size of Nutbuster could, by buying nuts, driving to and from the park, and generally staying out of Nutbuster’s way. At home Nutbuster was content to curl up in her window perch, safe from the dog below, or to sit on Steve’s shoulder reading classics and sampling whatever food he was eating. On occasion Nutbuster took a bath, and Steve was content to hold the blow dryer afterward while Nutbuster chittered show tunes and turned to and fro in front of the hot blowing air. 

The crimes Nutbuster hated most were crimes of poor parenting. Steve was relatively affluent and lived a life free of many wants, and the people Nutbuster and Steve encountered most often were fairly to extremely wealthy. Children were still subjected to poor parenting, though, and Nutbuster found herself attacking examples of overprotective or emotionally neglectful or abusive parents on a regular basis. Steve usually found it useful to carry a copy of the New York Times with him and pretend to read it, following Nutbuster’s antics through a small slit cut in the paper, so he could avoid vituperative parents. Once Nutbuster wreaked vengeance on the unsuspecting humans (and they were unsuspecting, as the only person able to understand Nutbuster was Steve), she would run to Steve and chitter away on his shoulder; he would keep the New York Times up until the other humans left, and that was the basis of many a fine afternoon spent in the park in all seasons. 

Steve did not like being outside much in the winter, but Nutbuster loved it, so Steve dutifully picked up Nutbuster’s travel case and carried her into his large black SUV. They parked at the entrance to a local park that offered skating and snacks in winter. Steve was not much for skating but like many New Yorkers he enjoyed roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate, so he decided he would content himself with these while Nutbuster, in her own way, fought crimes among the parents of the children at the skating rink. 

Nuts in one hand, hot chocolate in the other, Steve nodded toward Nutbuster, a pink and gray blur as she made her way through the crowds of people around the skating rink, listening for evidence of criminal activity. 

Nutbuster found one family, then another. Her superbly sharp senses were activated when she saw two children, much too old to be dressed by their mother, having their coats zipped together. 

“This is so you don’t get separated,” said the bossy, fairly plain-looking woman. She had a greying dark brown bob that was cut too short, so that her ears were visible. Nutbuster chittered irritably to herself. She disapproved of haircuts that reminded her of ones originating from bowls and grandparents with poor vision and do-it-yourself barbering kits. 

The children’s hair looked no better, and Nutbuster watched closely. She pressed a button on the side of her luchador mask and computerized goggles slid down over her face. She chittered instructions to her mask and inside her goggles, green symbols appeared, telling her the names and financial status of the family she was looking at. 

Absent father, Nutbuster read. Lucy McGee, overprotective mother. Germophobic. 

The mother was busy spraying Lysol on the bench she had cleared so that she and her children could use it. Nutbuster coughed. 

She was just about to turn away when Mrs. McGee tugged at the nearest child (Paul, Nutbuster noted) and the other child his coat had been zipped to (Maggie, Nutbuster noted) stumbled and fell. Both children fell face-first into the snow. 

Mrs. McGee grabbed Paul and Maggie, roughly dragged them upright, and started swabbing their faces and hands with Lysol wipes. The running commentary gave Nutbuster new resolve.

“Such clumsy children! You get that from your father. Stop it, Paul. Your hands are not clean, I have to wipe them again. Maggie, stop crying. You wouldn’t have fallen if you weren’t so clumsy. This is your fault. If you can’t stay clean I am going to have to take you home.”

Nutbuster quickly scanned the nearby area. There was a hot dog lying on the ground covered in gooey mustard. Nutbuster grabbed a large globule of mustard, then sprang into action. She grabbed the fabric of Mrs. McGee’s designer pants and clawed her way up, leaving traces of mustard; as Mrs. McGee screamed, Nutbuster sprang at her face and shoved the globule of mustard into Mrs. McGee’s large open mouth. 

Wiping her forepaws and arms in Evelyn’s hair to remove most of the mustard, Nutbuster then sprang toward the children. They cowered, but Nutbuster merely grabbed the zipper that joined them and unzipped the two coats. 

“Be free!” Nutbuster chittered, and made a “come on” motion with her left forepaw. The children followed her. 

Behind them, Mrs. McGee choked and gurgled. She fell backwards into the snow. 

Nutbuster ran slowly so the children could keep sight of her, and made a beeline for Steve. 

Sighing, Steve drained the last of his hot chocolate. 

“Hi, kids,” he said, when Maggie and Paul reached him. 

“Is that your mother?” 

He pointed at Mrs. McGee. There was a crowd gathering around her, and she was quickly obscured from view. 

“Sort of,” said Paul. 

“Can I have some chestnuts?” asked Maggie. 

Steve held out his packet of chestnuts. Maggie took two. 

“Can we play with your squirrel?” asked Paul. 

Steve looked at Nutbuster. 

Nutbuster chittered, and Steve said, “She’d like that. I’ll check on your mother.”

Nutbuster made the “come on” motion again and led Paul and Maggie toward the skate rental area. Steve watched as the kids obtained skates, put them on, and started wobbling around the skating rink. 
Sighing, Steve decided he had waited long enough and decided to go check on the mother. By the time he had reached where she was, he found her in the arms of an EMT, dramatically flourishing and asking for oxygen. 

“You don’t need oxygen, ma’am”, the EMT was saying. He looked pained. 

Mrs. McGee coughed and pretended to faint. The EMT awkwardly tried catch her and she slid to the ground, and screamed. 

“There’s nothing wrong with you, ma’am. I’m here to treat people who actually are in some sort of distress.”

On the ground, Mrs. McGee rolled and groaned. 

Steve wondered if he should mention that her children were safe. He checked over one shoulder- Paul and Maggie were fine, circling the skating rink while Nutbuster jumped from one’s shoulders to the other’s. He decided not to get involved. Let the kids enjoy their afternoon skating, he decided. 

He retreated to his bench with a new cup of hot chocolate and sat and watched the children skating. 

About an hour later, Mrs. McGee remembered her children and rose from her apparent deathbed to look for them. 

Steve whistled a warning, and Nutbuster signaled to the kids that they should get off the ice. She led them to Steve, bowed, and burrowed into Steve’s jacket pocket just in time to avoid being seen by Mrs. McGee, who came barreling down on them.

“What are you doing with my children?” she demanded. 

“Nothing at all, ma’am, these kids were just out skating and came over here, I had nothing to do with it,” said Steve. 

“We thought he was selling nuts,” said Paul, quickly. Maggie nodded.
“Come on, we are leaving,” said Mrs. McGee. “Both of you need baths. This park is filthy. The squirrels! I was attacked! I need to see a doctor!” 

She grabbed Maggie and Paul, but each child squirmed away. 

“What are you doing?”

“We can walk on our own.”

After a moment, Mrs. McGee said, “Fine,” and the children turned and waved at Nutbuster, who emerged from Steve’s pocket to gesture flamboyantly at them. 

Steve and Nutbuster watched the McGees leave the park, and Steve looked into his pocket. 

“This is a dry clean only jacket,” he said. “There’s mustard in here.”

Nutbuster chittered at him. 

Steve sighed. 

“As you wish,” he said. “All done for today?”

Nutbuster chittered. 

“All right then, we go home and then a bath for both of us.”

Nutbuster chittered. 

“Fine, you first,” said Steve, and the superhero squirrel and her human sidekick left the park.

In Which Our Heroine And Her Laser Cannon End a Relationship

This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote about the ending of a fraught relationship. You can find the entire thing here.

I paused, hefted the wide canvas straps of the cannon’s carrying bag, and continued plodding up the stairwell. This wasn’t really about Zack, although I was certain that the news media would jump to that conclusion. No, Zack had merely been the proverbial last straw.

I grinned, fiercely.

The cannon was Zack’s fault, really.  He gave me the idea last week, when he came by to pick up his rock collection. Our final meeting began badly. Zack informed me that he had arrived in his customary way; that is, he sat in his convertible and leaned on the horn, waiting for me to come down and open the security door.

Enraged, I had opened my window and began throwing his rocks—each carefully labeled, with a lovingly printed serial number and description of origin—at him, and his car. We exchanged a variety of insults, many unprintable, at full volume, as interested neighbors clustered at windows or on porches.

“Oh yeah?” Zack yelled, in response to a particularly inventive comment of mine on his sexual inadequacies. He picked up a large, green-flecked chunk of serpentine and hurled it up at my window, missing completely. A musical crash somewhere below and to my right marked where the rock had stuck somebody’s wind chimes.

“Well, you couldn’t blow me with a laser cannon!”

A few moments later Zack was distracted by the owner of the wind chimes, who was advancing across the lawn brandishing the sad remains of what had once been a trio of porcelain owls.

A wave of sadness swept over me as I watched Zack confront this new threat. There was something sexy about the way his nostrils flared, and he looked so passionate as he grabbed a piece of broken owl, threw it to the ground and began jumping up and down on it. Melodrama welled up in me, and with images of Scarlett O’Hara reeling though my brain I cried out his name, ready to say that I loved him, I forgave him—

“Shut up!” Zack screamed, momentarily distracted. Seconds later he crumpled to the ground, the unconscious victim of a sucker punch.

I sighed, remembering, and dabbled at my eyes with the sleeve of my jacket.

The fifth floor was, of course, deserted. I wandered past the security cameras without even attempting to hide my awkward bundle. If Steve, my survivalist brother-in-law, and his paramilitary chums had wired the cameras correctly, my movements on this floor would not be recorded. Steve had sworn me to several fearful oaths of secrecy regarding the source of the laser cannon and the video-rigging equipment, and had wanted to seal our compact by tattooing the complicated sigil of the Invisible Defenders of the American Nation on my right wrist. I persuaded him to accept a handshake and a case of Viagra instead.

I dragged the cannon over to my chosen window. Outside, people were milling about, and traffic cops in orange jacket were shooing people off the street. It was still early. I figured I had at least half an hour to wait before the parade floats came into view.

Assembling the cannon was easy. All I had to do was unfold the tripod and slip in the power cells. Cutting a small hole in the shatterproof glass of the window was a bit tricky. The glass cutter Steve had packed for me was different from the one I had been practicing with, but I managed within a few minutes. Focusing the telescopic sight took another few minutes. I flipped the cannon’s main power switch to let it warm up, listening to its high-pitched hum with a combination of glee and awe. Once assembled, the cannon looked like a fat silver telescope.

I stroked the shaft with my gloved hands, imagining I could feel the power running through it, that my hands, as they moved, were crackling with static.

Update on Anagama and my other works

Hello, readers!

I’ve been editing my most recent novel, Anagama. You can read the first chapter of it here: Sneak Peek at Anagama.

I sent today’s version to three friends to read and comment on it, and I’ll share with you the description of the work, and my future plans, that I shared with one of these friends:

“Hi, this is my science fiction novel Anagama, which is set in the same universe as Perigee, some time subsequently. It’s the story of how a pair of mutants considered nonhuman and their allies work to bring justice to a corrupt corporation on Earth, and involves intrigue, shady underworld figures, Cuban gods, and pottery. 

“My next steps are to see if I can formulate a synopsis, outline, query letter, and send this package along with a writing sample to an agency that might be willing to represent me. I also need to go over this manuscript a few more times to make certain I’m happy with it, but I really would like to finish it- this particular project has been on my plate for a very long time! 

“My next projects include possibly revising and adding new material to Perigee, then working on several novels-in-progress (Diamond and Wings), both of which are partially written but both of which I want to substantially revise and improve. I also want to plot and write a psychic spy thriller called Cloak which draws strongly from current events, and is about the fall of a corrupt White House administration. 

“I also have a finished manuscript which I am happy with called Infinity– the story of how the descendants of an important couple help protect their ancestors from cross-time assassination attempts. This story involves wormholes, quantum entanglement, romance and many hideous floral arrangements.”

So, readers, now you are up to date on my current novel-writing activities, just like my friend. I also plan to write some short pieces- I may elaborate on some of the more disturbing posts which are sprinkled throughout this blog (many of which may find themselves as concepts inside larger works I already have planned)- and put them up on Smashwords. Most of my current works on Smashwords are short pieces about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, and I may elaborate on the backstories of these characters and make them a little more realistic in a series of short stories or podcast scripts in future, and compile them into an anthology.

I hope you enjoy reading my works. I hope to add podcasts to my repertoire of future offerings and am considering, in addition to writing a fictional podcast about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, practicing with the format and with voice work by reviewing Chuck Tingle books (I have yet to buy one but they look amazing).

I am difficult to reach, but can be contacted via the form on the Contact Me page.

Buy a little piece of history

Hello, readers!

Just a little newsy update, no grim short pieces about torments or strange dreams this time.

My novel Perigee is on sale in Kindle ebook version for $3.99 USD!

I like my first novel Perigee but am not 100% happy with it. I messed up its republishing- I failed to get a new ISBN in 2013 even though I’m fairly sure I asked the person I was on the phone with to get one, for example, and upon rereading it, I’m not 100% happy with how it begins. I was thinking of revising it and adding in a novella, or else writing an entire other book, about the character Avesta Brunner-Tsu. She’s a favorite of mine, and her backstory is quite interesting. I plan to pull Perigee from publication at iUniverse, and then re-release it as a 2020 manuscript in a different form.

I was not 100% happy with the interactions I had with iUniverse, so I am unlikely to simply re-release it with them. I’ve been working hard on polishing two other science fiction manuscripts (one, Anagama, set in the same universe as Perigee, and another, Infinity, in its own variant of Earth) so I can start sending one of these to agents. Anagama involves a variety of humanoid mutants fighting for human rights on Earth, corporate intrigue, and underworld criminals. You can read the first chapter here. Infinity involves wormholes, time detectives, assassination attempts, and a series of incredibly ugly floral arrangements. Perigee is a more comedic take on science fiction than Anagama, and describes the chaos that hits a small planetary colony when a potent aphrodisiac is released into the colony’s water systems.

So if you want to get collector’s copies of Perigee, buy them now (you can get the book or ebook on Amazon here) before I pull this version from publication. I plan on changing the cover to something more evocative of the actual novel, as well, so the old version should be easy to spot.

I’m not famous now, though if my incredibly good mood, high energy levels, and lack of brain fog continue for some time, I should be able to pull my writing together enough to finish polishing, submit queries, and find an agent. In a little while, who knows? So if you’d like to take a gamble, buy my book and get yourself a little piece of history while it’s affordable.