New Story Time: “Crack’d From Side to Side”

It’s Wednesday, and as promised, an original, never before published piece for Story Time. Some views of art and craft of any sort (painting, poetry, storytelling, custom furniture, you name it) maintain that it is a type of conversation with every piece of art that has come before it. Sometimes it’s more of an argument than a conversation, but the point stands. In some ways it is exactly that, but usually a little less obvious than today’s Story Time. As will be apparent to anyone who reads it, “Crack’d From Side to Side” was both inspired by and a reaction to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous poem, “The Lady of Shalott.” Whether it’s a conversation or an argument I’ll leave for the reader to decide.



Note and Disclaimer: The Story Time link will always point to the current story, whatever it happens to be. As soon as a new one goes up, the previous one goes away. There is no archive, I’m afraid, so get them while they’re here.


New Story Time: “On the Banks of the River of Heaven”

3rd Story CollectionThis has long been a favorite of mine. It was originally published back in April 2008 in Realms of Fantasy magazine and was the title story of my third collection, On the Banks of the River of Heaven (Prime Books, 2010).

The story is based on the Japanese Star Festival (Tanabata) of July 7th, which in turn was based on an older Chinese legend. Once a year, the Divine Weaver and the Divine Herdsman (Vega and Altair)  would meet across the Milky Way (the River of Heaven) to renew their love. The legend goes that their intense affection for each other caused them to neglect their duties, the Weaver to make clothes for the gods, the Herdsman to keep the Celestial Ox out of the gods’ gardens. So they were separated and only allowed to meet once a year after that.

Naturally, in my version things were a little more complicated. But nothing that couldn’t be sorted out with good will and a little help from friends in unlikely places.

Story Time.



Edited to Add: Note and Disclaimer: The Story Time link will always point to the current story, whatever it happens to be. As soon as a new one goes up, the previous one goes away. There is no archive, I’m afraid, so get them while they’re here.

Bucket Lists

I’d heard of bucket lists most of my life but I never had one myself. That is, I thought of things I wanted to accomplish, but it was never of the formal “I have to do this before I die” bucket list. I’ve managed to accomplish most of my initial goals, but the blessing and curse of goals is that there’s always another one. Get one out of the way and you discover the goal posts have moved. Plus the one or two that have not been reached, as you consider them, realize that, yes, you still want that. I have a few like that, but all I can say on the subject is “I’m working on it” and try to make sure that’s true.

And then there are the things that ambush you. Things you want to do or achieve that you didn’t even realize were a “thing” at all. For instance, when I knew that I was leaving Mississippi—though not yet sure to where—there was suddenly a list of things I needed to do beforehand. I’d already been to Miss Eudora Welty’s stomping grounds in the Belhaven district of Jackson, and even shopped at the grocery store she frequented. I needed to visit Square Books in Oxford, MS, a place I’d meant to go for years but never managed to get there. Done. I needed to visit Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner, also in Oxford, so that was a two-fer, What else? Well, there was the Choctaw Indian Fair at the Choctaw Reservation. I’d never been, so we packed up and went. Only to be blindsided by a bit of nostalgia as we went to an event held in the Choctaw High Gym and I remembered I’d been there before. I had run on that very track around the field where the stickball games were played, back in my HS days. Maybe that was why I needed to go. Something else to say goodbye to.

Regardless, we moved to central NY state and began the process of learning about our new home. We visited Cooperstown, but more for the Farmer’s Museum than the Baseball Hall of Fame. We went up to Old Forge and Lake George in the Adirondacks. We visited Woodstock almost by accident, since Carol wanted to go to a store in a nearby town and afterward we got a little lost. Cool place, and we’ll probably go back. Then we heard of a special event being held on Yasgur’s farm. Did a double take. THE Yasgur’s Farm? The very same. The place where the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was held way back in 1969. Something I hadn’t realized before then was that Woodstock wasn’t held in Woodstock, since the original site fell through. It was then moved to a farm in Bethel, NY, in the Catskills. Yasgur’s Farm, as in the song. So we went to a place I hadn’t realized I needed to go.

I still don’t have a bucket list, because I think the idea is silly and limiting. There’s always something new to do, an experience you didn’t know you needed. When the time comes, the thing reveals itself. Go for it. Not an admonishment, by the way. Just a reminder. To myself, if no one else.

P.S. The new “Story Time” should go up on Wednesday. I’m trying that as the schedule for now. What’s it going to be? Not telling.

New Story Time — “Salt of the Earth”

It occurs to me that I’ve been a little sluggish and haphazard in updating the Story Time page on this site, so I’m resolving to do better. Right now I’m thinking of keeping a weekly schedule, and we’ll see how that works out. To launch the *New* and *Improved* Story Time feature, I’ll lead off with an original, never-before published anywhere before now story, “Salt of the Earth.” I likely won’t be able to do that every week, but from time to time it seems like a good idea. Otherwise I have more than enough stories scattered about in obscure sources to be able to put up things few people have had the chance to read otherwise.

So here it is, Story Time. A gift from me to you, and I hope you enjoy it.


Edited to Add: Note and Disclaimer: The Story Time link will always point to the current story, whatever it happens to be. As soon as a new one goes up, the previous one goes away. There is no archive, I’m afraid, so get them while they’re here.

Dark Wizards Need Love Too

The beauty of a blog is that you can write whatever you want. The drawback for both me and the reader is the same. Too many days this is just me rambling on about whatever bright or shadowy butterfly has my attention at the moment. Yet, now and again, I can dispense some actual information. About me, of course, but after all this is my blog and—trust me on this–usually it’s better to let my Ego run free rather than my Id.

Ahem. First item of news: the series (still un-named) that began with “In Memory of Jianhong, Snake-Devil” continues later this month with “On the Road to the Hell of Hungry Ghosts” in the Ninth Anniversary Double Issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which should be online toward the end of this month, so only a few weeks away. Pan Bao and the crew attempt a good deed, despite his better judgment. No telling what they’ll do next. Frankly, I can’t wait to find out myself. A podcast is also planned.

Now it’s time for the elephant in the room, or rather an explanation for the cover image above. A fan who had heard LeVar Burton’s podcast of “Empty Places” asked me why more of my work (and specifically those featuring Tymon the Black) wasn’t available on another platform, said platform I barely knew existed. So I checked it out and discovered that said platform currently wasn’t accepting new publisher accounts, so placing them there wasn’t possible for now. I also realized that, the two novels aside, the three shorter works starring Tymon had never been put together in one place for the time when it might be possible to make them available. So here they are, together for the first time in The Collected Tymon the Black: “A Time for Heroes,” the original novelette which later grew into The Long Look, “Empty Places,” (3rd episode of LeVar Burton Reads) and “The Devil of Details.” Two novelettes and a long short story, at about 25,000 words. I’ve made it available on the Kindle for now, though with luck it’ll be available Elsewhere later. At least if anyone is looking for Tymon the Black outside the novels, there’s a place to find him.