I’ve got a story in the new anthology, Tales of the Once and Future King. It’s a bit of a departure from what I’ve put out before, being more of a heroic fantasy/chivalric romance/bardic tale than anything else. I get to introduce Taliesin, Arthur’s bard. While the stories in the anthology cover a pretty wide range of genres, I kept mine solidly late-Roman, early medieval Britain. It’s called Taliesin’s Riddle. It is said that King Arthur will return in Britain’s hour of greatest need. That time is coming. Four travelers, searching for the Pendragon, are quickly embroiled in a plot to rescue the beloved of a banished forest lord. And while they concoct their desperate plan a Bard, the new Taliesin, regales them with stories: Tales of Knights, yes, but also tales of robots and vampires, music and monsters, airships and armies – tales to inspire heroism and hope. And when all seems lost, perhaps these tales will be their salvation. This book is an anthology. This book is a novel. This book is a romance This book is science fiction This book is a fantasy This is “Tales of the Once and Future King” It’s available for pre-order on
The weird odor in the air, that managed to smell like blood, rot, sulfur, and burned meat all at the same time, got more intense. My guts twisted and I tried not to inhale, but it seemed to reach into my nose anyway, forcing itself past my nasal passages and into my sinuses. A piercing, stabbing pain started to build behind my left eye. I heard Kolya grunt, and Eryn was panting, breathing shallowly. I spared a worried glance at her, to see that she still had her shotgun up, though she looked pale and sick. Granted, some of that might have been the green light of the candles on her already fair complexion, but whatever was happening in that room was not conducive to human life. As soon as they landed on the corpse pile, both figures went limp, though blood continued to pump from their savaged throats, coating the floor and the already bloody meat that had once been human beings. For a moment, all was still. Father Ignacio was continuing the Rite of Exorcism, but the three still-living cultists, or whatever they were, were still facing the pile of human remains, still croaking that blasphemous sound, though
The Jed Horn series usually hasn’t involved a great deal of research (certainly nowhere near as much as either the Praetorian series or Kill Yuan). A little bit of looking around for cool big-bore rifles for the Witch Hunters to carry, perhaps, but for the most part, the series has been a somewhat more serious version of telling spook stories around the campfire at Scout Camp (and depriving young Scouts of many hours of sleep). But with Older and Fouler Things, I ran into the need to do some research. Since the story is a cross between The Exorcist, Dracula, and an old-fashioned dungeon crawl (with holy gunslingers and a biker priest/exorcist), there is a substantial part that happens underground, in an old, abandoned silver mine. Now, I’ve been in a hard-rock mine before, but it was many, many moons ago, so memory is hazy, at best. I had to do some digging. The best resource I found was a YouTube channel entitled “Exploring Abandoned Mines and Unusual Places.” I got a good idea of general layouts of old hard-rock mines, whether silver, copper, or even tin. I also found some stuff that kind of fit in with the Jed
Edit 2 is finished, and the preorder for the Kindle version of Older and Fouler Things is up! It will release on September 22. In the meantime, here’s a look at Chapter 4. Oh, and there’s a cover, too. Paul didn’t show up to breakfast, even though it was pretty late in the morning, and the sounds and smells of frying bacon and eggs were permeating the entire house. After the events of the previous night, that was a matter of some concern. I was about to go check on him, but Eryn put a hand on my arm. “Let me get him,” she said quietly. “If he’s as traumatized as I think he might be, a gentle voice will probably help him a little more. No offense, hon, but you’re better at the ‘shooting monsters’ part, and I’m better at the ‘comforting victims afterward’ part.” I just nodded, and stepped back. I was still hovering in the hallway, though, and I still had my .45 on my hip. The combination of Magnus’ reaction to him, the eerie activity at the witching hour that morning, and his silence and absence at breakfast were not serving to make me particularly comfortable.
The Beginning The security situation on the Arizona-Mexico border has gotten bad…very bad. The Border Patrol is all but helpless, as narcos, terrorists, and common criminals cross the line with impunity. One Arizona rancher has put up the money to hire a PMC to secure his land. He can’t afford much, or for long, but with work hard to come by, the former Special Operations contractors of Praetorian Security have jumped at the job. It’s hot, boring, and uneventful at first. But when a bloodthirsty mob of cartel sicarios set their sights on taking over the ranch, the Praetorians have to dig in and fight. It is a bloody, bullet-riddled siege in the desert hills. And it is Praetorian Security’s baptism by fire. The novella that tells the story of just how Jeff and the boys got their hands on the cash they used on Socotra in Task Force Desperate is now out on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. (No plans for a paperback version for the moment; I might look at a collection of short work sometime in the future.) Now, it might come to some people’s attention that it’s actually been out for a couple of days, and there
Chapter 3 It was a long drive back to Ray’s place, and we were tired. Fighting a demonic manifestation in a Bed and Breakfast can really take it out of you. We stopped several times to rest along the way. Eryn and I could switch off driving, but Kolya and Father Ignacio didn’t have that luxury. At least Father Ignacio could go a lot farther on a single tank of gas, riding that Harley of his. Paul wasn’t helping much; according to Kolya, he was spending most of the drive sleeping, when he wasn’t staring blankly out the window. None of us necessarily blamed him; the first brush with the powers of the Abyss can be pretty traumatic. He’d need time. It was well after dark by the time we pulled in. Ray’s house, a long, one-story, hewn-log building that he’d built himself, was dark, at least at first. As the gravel crunched under our wheels, a light flickered to life in the window. Either Magnus had heard us coming and woken Ray up, or he’d somehow known we’d be pulling in right at that moment.
If it hadn’t been for the earpiece, I never would have heard the radio over the snarl of the four-wheeler’s engine. “Hillbilly, this is Plug,” Hank called. I eased off the throttle and took one hand off the handlebars to key the radio. “Send it, Plug.” “Can you push up to the top of that ridgeline just to the east of you and take a look to the south?” he asked. “Tell me what you see.” “Sure thing,” I answered. It wasn’t like we had a set patrol route, or even any particular need to be anywhere. So far, this job had consisted of little more than long hours just hot-wheeling around the hills of southern Arizona on four-wheelers and the occasional pickup truck. I gunned the engine and sent the sturdy little ATV surging up between the mesquites and the creosote bushes toward the ridge that Hank had indicated. It wasn’t a long climb, but it was steep and rocky, with plenty more sagebrush and creosote bushes that I had to weave around. But it still only took a couple of minutes to reach the top. Halting my ATV, I stood on the running boards and pulled my binos
Seems there was one more Jeff Stone story to tell, after all. This is a novella, and a prequel. Coming soon.
Had something else in mind for this post, but got too busy. So here’s a bit of a look at the work in progress. Chapter 1 Crossing the police line was like stepping into a sauna. It had been warm enough out on the street; it was the middle of August, after all. But Spokane was relatively dry and arid. This felt like we’d just walked into a swamp in the middle of Mississippi. In August. There was also a heavy scent in the air. It wasn’t quite incense, and it wasn’t quite burned blood, though there was a hint of that; something metallic. It was something I’d smelled before, and didn’t care to smell again. Cloying, sickening, and absolutely wrong. I had felt like we were being watched before we even set foot across the police line and onto the yard in front of the spruced-up old neo-Victorian house. And not necessarily by the swarms of cops, firefighters, EMS personnel, reporters, cameramen, and curious neighbors who were gathered on the street. There was someone, or something, up in that house, and it didn’t want us there. That was abundantly clear as soon as Eryn, Kolya, and I stepped
I’m stocked, so signed copies of Lex Talionis are now available. Just go here.