Borders: between dry land and flowing water, daylight and night, something haunts the river’s edge in the fading light.

The River’s Edge is an eerie modern horror story of the best kind: evocative of the mysteries we’ve always suspected, hidden in warnings to stay away from the water’s edge and mind the current and always be home before it gets late. It’s also the kind of story that will leave you feeling that the world has been made a better place.

Content warning for brief mention of stalking and MRA/incel ideology.

Cover of Shadow Born by Martin Frowd

Eight year old Zarynn is an orphan. His parents were killed for committing the unspeakable heresy of worshiping a deity of light, and Zarynn is slated to be ritually stoned to death for manifesting magical abilities of his own when a dark stranger intervenes to save his life.

Rescued by the necromancer Glaraz, Zarynn embarks on an epic journey to escape certain death at the hands of the druids that rule the lands his people call home.

In the distance, distorted by the nutrient gel filling the stasis tank, klaxons blared.

The vat’s seal popped, exposing him to the sting of cold, dry ship-board air. Marc’s breather unit detached, followed by the connections that kept his body functioning through the long dark sleep. The klaxon became louder, more immediate.

Red emergency lights strobed as he opened his eyes, illuminating a dimly lit storage hold. He had just enough time to realize that this was not the comfortable passenger carrier he’d gone to sleep on before the stasis pod tilted upright and dumped him out on the dirty metal decking. The nutrient gel steamed as it flowed down a conveniently located drain. Icy metal welcomed him, naked and shivering, back into the real world.

Wind, Ice, and Willows

Mud squelched under his boots as he made his way up the dirt road. Willows waved in a frigid wind on either side of the track, their windward surfaces coated in a half-inch-thick layer of ice. The man zipped his jacket and pulled his collar up instinctively, before it occurred to him that he didn’t feel cold.

The mountain pass was enshrouded in clouds, obscuring the peaks on either side as well as the road ahead. Ragged streamers of water vapor raced past, chased by the razor-edged wind. The man paused and turned in a circle, taking stock of his surroundings. Alpine tundra stretched away into the mist on either side of him, dotted with lichen-covered boulders, scrub willows, and the occasional stunted spruce.

Back the way he had come, lights glowed weakly through the fog. A black SUV rested half off the road, its hood impaled on the end of a guard rail. There had been a sharp corner. Icy mud. A loss of traction.

Continue reading “Wind, Ice, and Willows”

It’s hard to believe that yet another summer is nearly over. The leaves are turning yellow in my corner of the world, and the infamous low-lying areas experienced their first frost a few weeks ago. Where does the time go?

In my case, time flies when you’re screaming busy. I’ve been invited back for Part II of a superb speculative fiction anthology, Trumpland 2020: Divided We Stand, and am currently working on my entry.

Hel’s Fury, my submission for the first Trumpland collection, was extremely dark. It was kind of a worst case scenario, a hodgepodge of national news and the worst of my state’s own tendencies.

I’m happy to announce that my as-yet-untitled submission to 2020 will be much brighter. My goal is to highlight some of the good in Alaska and Alaskans, the spirit of community and resistance that I grew up with and still see occasionally in Alaska’s remote corners.

I’m also exploring Patreon as an avenue to get my short fiction in front of more readers and support myself while doing it. The first wave of September tier rewards are now live and I’m particularly excited about this month’s story, which digs into the origins of my cyborg OC Frank the Tank.

As some of you who’ve been with me the longest may know, Frank started out as a bit character in a piece of flash fiction.

This article examines a small, empathy-deficient subset of the writing community. However, the advice given can help anyone who wants to ensure that their characters possess depth and realism.

Have you ever read a book where the protagonist, no matter who he’s supposed to be, sounds like an old conservative white guy? And you think, Ok, he’s not very relatable. In fact, he’s kind of a jackass. But maybe this character’s going to learn something and grow into a better person as the story progresses.

Then you realize that the plucky young Latina sidekick also sounds like an old conservative guy. And so does the working-class Joe who helps them escape from the antagonist. And the down-on-her luck single mother at the diner who waits on them. And their cab driver… And you start to feel like, instead of writing a flawed protagonist, the author is maybe only capable of writing one type of character. And that character is very flawed indeed.

The problem is, the author doesn’t realize it because (surprise twist) he’s an old conservative white guy.

Continue reading “Creating Realistic Characters: Empathy Is Essential”

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble.
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Warning: this episode contains imagery that may be disturbing for those who have experienced violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Halfway between the Old Village docks and the new airport, the rain turned from heavy to torrential. Water flooded the muddy road, falling faster than it could run away. Cam swore under his breath; his old raincoat was less than waterproof, and now he could add being soaked to the skin to his list of problems.

A collection of weathered metal buildings marked the edge of the airport. The largest was the airport manager’s office, the de facto entry and exit point those arriving and departing the village. Cam could just make out the shadow of a Cessna Grand Caravan on the gravel apron beyond the row of buildings.

He squared his shoulders and pushed open the door that led into the terminal. To his disappointment, the battered wooden benches were empty. A pot of stale coffee simmered on an ancient hot plate at the back of the room, under yellow florescent lights that had probably been manufactured before Cam’s parents were born.

He made a beeline for the coffee. It smelled like death and was just on the liquid side of sludge, but it was free. Cam poured himself a cup and used it to warm away the chill in his hands as he took in the cramped passenger lobby. Someone had left their backpack on a chair; it was bright blue, like the murdered outsider’s jacket. He wandered over to look at it. North Face brand. Expensive.

“Hey, stay away from that!” the airport manager snapped.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part V: Cam Goes Down”

This article was inspired by a discussion in a writing group, and a series of questions that were posed about the inclusion of trigger warnings in books. But first, a word on what trigger warnings are –and what they aren’t.

Trigger warnings attempt to forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People with PTSD have physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that are triggered by stimuli that is similar to the trauma the individual experienced. Hence the “trigger” in trigger warning.

Individuals do not have control over what triggers their PTSD, but many have personal strategies to cope with triggers when encountered. Those strategies work best when the trigger is expected, hence the importance of warnings: they give people the forewarning necessary to put on their metaphorical armor, or to decide not to partake in that particular media.

Trigger warnings aren’t meant to warn people of content they might find offensive. Unfortunately, the rise of “Lol ur triggered!” troll culture has led to a shift in how the term is perceived.

Continue reading “Trigger Warnings In Writing”

I’m proud to announce that today marks an exciting new step in my writing journey! But first, a proper introduction.

My name is Leland, and I write science fiction and crime stories. Most take place in the future, some are set in my home state of Alaska, and many contain hints of the otherworldly and unexplained.

I’ve been writing for the better part of 25 years, and for most of that time I wrote for myself. Writing was and is my escape from the grim grasp of reality. It’s a ray of light in a dark world.

In October of 2017 I published a cyberpunk science fiction novel called Necrotic City; and as of now I’m working on the sequel and a couple of other novel-length projects. I also run a weekly blog where I share flash fiction, short stories, reviews, and my thoughts on our high tech, low life world.

Money is tight, and because of the Other Job that pays the majority of my bills, so is writing time. My goal is to be able to write full time, so I’m trying something new: I’m launching a Patreon page.

I know there are a lot of you out there who enjoy my writing. Whether it’s the sequel to Necrotic City, my short stories and flash fiction, or my reviews and writing advice, becoming my patron is a great way to make it possible for me to create more of the content you love.

For as little as $2 a month you can gain access to at least one piece of brand-new fiction per month, excerpts from works in progress, deleted scenes, and exclusive insights into the weird worlds I create. If you think about it, that’s a pretty good deal. Virtually nothing in life is that cheap– not even a cup of coffee.

Kindly stop by my Patreon and check out the reward tiers. August’s monthly rewards are already up, and there’s also some free short fiction. Whether you choose to pledge a little or a lot, your contribution is greatly appreciated!

The following excerpt is a sneak peek at one of August’s patron rewards. Enjoy!

From A Call in the dark, Available now on Patreon:

The hulking wreck of an interstellar cruiser hung above an undeveloped world, baking under the gaze of the system’s giant-class star. The wreckage should have been wholly unable to host life. Debris formed a lethal halo around it, ejected from open ports and shattered shielding. Whatever had happened to the cruiser, it had been bad.

Stellar surveys reported it had been there for some time. The wreck was a permanent fixture, an ever-present star in the night sky of the planet below. It had been there for what CF46’s human cargo would have called ‘generations.’

And yet he was reading a distress signal that no other passing ship had registered… or chosen to register.

“…emergency. …support failing! Requesting immediate assistance…”

Support me on Patreon to read the rest!

A  q&A about my patreon launch

Q: Oh no! Does this mean you won’t be posting flash fiction and short stories for free on your blog anymore?

A: Absolutely not! I plan to continue posting here as I have been. Supporting me on Patreon is a way to access additional content and show your support for the stuff I create. 

Q: Isn’t asking for additional money from your readers kind of, you know, greedy? You already get paid when people buy your book(s).

A: The vast majority of the content I create is free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat. I want to make a full-time career out of writing, and that means I need to do one of two things: focus my effort purely on for-profit writing, or explore additional sources of writing-related revenue. I’m hoping that in addition to providing my fans with more awesome content, Patreon will act as a tip jar for those who enjoy my work.

Have questions I haven’t answered here? Feel free to ask them in the comment section. And remember, whether you choose to support me on Patreon or not, I appreciate you. Thank you for reading the things I write. You rock!

The Interspecies Poker Tournament by Claire Buss

Chief Thief-Catcher Ned Spinks, along with his rag-tag band of mostly-supernatural fellow Thief-Catchers, have been tasked by the fey community with catching the most dangerous thief of all: a stealer of life.

The murderer has been targeting communities of supernatural creatures one by one, from the brownies to the dryads to the mer folk, and each victim has been killed in the most insulting way possible for their race. The murdered gingerbread man was dunked in milk. The naiad (water nymph) was left on dry land. And the deceased brownie, a race that’s fond of cake and notoriously intolerant of vegetables, was left in a salad bowl. Curiously, the only thing the survivors can seem to agree on is the existence of a suspicious mustache.

Continue reading “Review: The Interspecies Poker Tournament”