Moon Buck

It felt like Jimmy’d walked up and punched him in the back. Jeremiah staggered forward, the sound of the gunshot ringing in his ears as a fine spray of blood erupted from his chest. His legs went weak. Glancing back toward the truck, he saw Jimmy lowering the hunting rifle from his shoulder.

“Why?” he whispered. Jimmy didn’t seem to hear him.

Ahead, though the moonlit clearing where they’d been stalking deer, the shadow of a massive buck raised its head. Strangely it hadn’t bolted at the sound of the shot. Footsteps crunched across dead leaves, and then Jimmy stood over him, face impassive.

Continue reading “The Moon Buck”

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I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2018”

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Weathered old building at a relay site. Photo by Nocturnal Lynx Photography

What follows is the first chapter of a new work in progress called Interference. It has yet to be seen whether this will wind up being a short story or something longer, but right now my money is on something longer.

  Content warning for brief references to torture and grievous bodily injury.

Kay’s treads just weren’t made for off-road travel. After nearly losing his balance and sliding back down a particularly rocky slope, the battered librarian climbed to his feet and took stock of his surroundings.

Rocky soil stretched up the rutted trail in front of him, framed on either side by scrubby alder and arctic birch. Ahead, over the shoulder of the hill, the antennas of a radio tower farm stretched into the cloudy sky. Kay removed a crushed alder leaf that had become caught in the hinge of his right elbow and allowed himself a moment to stare longingly at the antenna array, lost in its hypnotic song.

Continue reading “Interference, Chapter 1: Kay”

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Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

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Ghostly Tree

“The rain is full of ghosts tonight,” she said.

I held her close, her head cradled against my shoulder, as we stood under the ancient trees. Her fingers were cold in mine.

“What do they want?” she whispered. “Why do they come back?”

The rain rustled in the leaves above our hiding place, and an ethereal breeze stirred the ruffles of her white gown– the last one she ever wore.

“Maybe they miss the living?” I suggested. “The ones who never come to visit.”

“Silly things. They know they can’t leave this graveyard. Nobody who lies here leaves.” Her voice was as soft and sad as the whisper of the rain.

“I know,” I said. Believe me, I know. My tears mixed with the rain as she turned to cold fog in my arms.

—Flash Fiction: Ghosts © 2018 by Leland Lydecker

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Today on the author blog, I’m going to do something different. What follows is the first page of a short story that will be released as part of an anthology this summer. Hel’s Fury is set in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a dystopian near future. And yes, the spelling is deliberate.

A Taste of Things to Come: Hel’s Fury

As Fairbanks Police Captain Nathan Spencer waded through the soggy snow toward the crime scene, a growing sense of dread supplanted his annoyance at being called out first thing on a Monday morning. Dozens of other pairs of boots had already made the same journey, clearing a wide path from the parking area to the underside of the nearby Steese Highway bridge.

To his right the Chatanika River rushed by, muddied by year-round mining operations upstream. A forest of scraggly black spruce marched off into the pre-dawn dimness on the far bank. To his left, a handful of Alaska State Trooper SUVs and several Fairbanks Police cars sat in the parking lot of an abandoned campground. Ravens circled overhead.

The crime scene was thirty-some miles northeast of Fairbanks, and fell under the Troopers’ jurisdiction. Spencer silently cursed whatever circumstance had connected the scene to one of the FPD’s many open cases.

A FPD detective named Henriksen met him at the edge of the highway overpass, expression grim.

“This had better be good,” Spencer snapped. “I’m going to be pissed if you called me all the way out here just because someone strung up a couple more drunks.”

The detective grimaced. “These weren’t drunks. That’s why I called you. These are some of ours.”

Continue reading “Sneak Preview: Hel’s Fury”

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 Cover of Darrell B. Nelson's The Genocide Game.

This week on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews The Genocide Game. A megalomaniac billionaire with an automation fetish plots to wipe out ninety-eight percent of the world’s population, and it falls to Stan– pick-up artist guru and self-proclaimed word-nerd– to save the world.

To be more accurate, Stan bumps into Raven, a scientist on the run from her job in the billionaire’s R&D lab, and offers to help her. Pretty soon they’re both on the run from Ferguson’s comically inept goons, racing to reveal the existence of a genetically engineered super-virus before Ferguson can unleash it on the world.

Although it sounds like a cool premise, The Genocide Game has some unfortunately fatal flaws. Let’s start with Stan.

Continue reading “Darrell B. Nelson’s The Genocide Game”

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Today on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews Armand Rosamilia’s Dirty Deeds.

I get paid to erase problems.

Did your extramarital affair produce an unwanted complication? Family problems? Just want to enjoy your midlife crisis by yourself?

That’s where I come in. For a fee I’ll take care of it. A big fee.

Dirty Deeds is a crime novel with a twist– and not the kind you’d expect. The protagonist is an aging hitman with a big secret: he spirits away the children he’s been paid to kill, setting them up with an adoption agency that places them with loving new families. Or at least, so he thinks.

Continue reading “Dirty Deeds Review”

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