The Guardian Cats of New York City: Watcher On The Shore is now available for sale!

Watcher on the Shore Title

Hey, all!

Like the title says, The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Watcher On The Shore is once again available for sale and for checkout on Kindle Unlimited.  For the story that gives us our first look at what happens when there’s something too big for the Guardian Cats to handle – and how they manage to help any – check out the Short Stories page, The Watcher On The Shore‘s own page, or just go straight to Amazon.

To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

Nar-Tali didn’t often envy the senses of the two-legs, nose-numb and half-deaf as they were. But tonight he would have accepted their night-blindness if it had brought with it the distance and clarity of their vision. The Thing that was coming, it was coming from the water. He could sense that now, feel it in his whiskers and fur and bones like the coming of the storm. But as much as he strained his senses toward the Great Salty Water, he could detect nothing. The roaring of the rain filled his hearing; the water and the wind washed away all smells.

Then the skyfire flashed again, and he caught a glimpse of…something. It was distant and unclear and it was only there for a moment, but it was…it was like a hill had suddenly risen up out of the water, then slid smoothly back in.

The sky rumbled in response to the skyfire, drowning out all sound. But as the last of the echoes of the sky-roar faded, Nar-Tali thought he heard the last echoes of another – a distant reptilian bellow.

There it was again. Much closer this time. And much, much louder.

Nar-Tali noticed that the ragged two-legs was standing beside him now, staring out at the Great Salty Water. For all the good it would do him. Even if the hill in the water surfaced again, all he would see was black on black. Not that he, Nar-Tali, was doing much better. With all this blinding rain coming down, he might as well be a two-legs himself.

Wait – there it was. The hill in the water. It was beside the long wooden sidewalk that went out onto the water now, and it was approaching shore.

On some instinct, Nar-Tali nudged the ragged two-legs, then pointed toward the shore.

The two-legs nodded. He saw it, too.

The hill was rising out of the water. Only it was longer now. More of a ridge.

The ridge kept rising. And rising. And then it broke the surface, and…

Oh. Great. Sekhmet.

It was huge.

Bast have mercy, it was a great serpent. As long as the sidewalk-over-the-water…no, longer, as long as one of the great metal serpents that carried two-legs in their bellies as they screamed along the rails. And at least as thick.

Its head was broad and flat and angular, with horns and razored spines sticking out in all directions. Its mouth, with its three rows of fangs, was easily capable of taking the ragged two-legs whole. Its scales gleamed black in the light of the boardwalk lamps, and its eyes glowed a poisonous green.

It thrashed and coiled its way out of the surf, and then it was on shore, rushing forward on thousands of limbs of all description. Crab legs and lizard feet supported it as tentacles and jellyfish stingers waved in the air.

It was so big. So impossibly big. As big as old Apophis, but he was no Bast. He was just Nar-Tali. He couldn’t fight that. But he’d felt the calling in his bones tonight, the call to duty. Why had he been called if he could do nothing? There must be –

And then the ragged two-legs was striding forward, a stick in one hand, the other under his coat. “Whoa there!” He shouted. “Hey, whoa there!”

Reviews: Streets of Fire



This review was first published on March 8, 2013, back on Dreams of the Shining Horizon.  I bring it here for several reasons.  First, I intend to bring  all of my reviews over – I believe they have relevance to writing theory and my philosophy as a writer.  I bring this review over  first because it was the first and, in my opinion, one of the best on the old site.  What’s more, this movie remains a great inspiration to me as I continue to write fiction about myths and dreams.  Finally, it’s summer time, and this is by far my favorite summer movie.  Enjoy.

On my About page, and again in my first post, I mention that one of the things I intend to write about on this site is movies.  It would be strange if I didn’t: I’ve been a movie buff ever since I was a little kid hanging out in the local video store, wishing I could take the entire stock home.  And while there are certainly movies I’m going to pick apart or hold up as examples of what not to do, most of them are going to be movies I love, or that inspire me in some way.

That’s why the very first movie review on Dreams of the Shining Horizon is going to be about Streets of Fire.  It fits into both categories, and I wanted to get the whole endeavor off to a positive start. Continue reading “Reviews: Streets of Fire

Looking the Other Way is now available for sale!


The first story of the dark beneath the City is now available for sale!  Check out the updated Short Stories page, the story’s own page, or, if you’re in a hurry, just go straight to Amazon.  It’s available both for purchase and for checkout with Kindle Unlimited.

(All stories previously released through this site are now available only through Amazon, and can now be checked out through Kindle Unlimited.)


The tracks were full of vermin.

It was a living river, flowing from the Queensward side – from the deep and unbroken dark beneath the East River. Probably shin-deep or worse, if I’d actually dared to get down there: rats squirming and climbing and tumbling over each other as an endless current of cockroaches carried them along.

They were running from something. Was the tunnel flooding? Should I be headed for the surface, like right-frigging-now?

But no, that wasn’t it. If I looked further up the tracks, toward the tunnel, I could see what they were running from. Right behind the cockroaches was a tide of…well, they looked like cockroaches, too, except that they were black – I mean absolute, gleaming, lightless, deep-space black, like chips of the all-consuming Void moving among the plain brown carapaces of New York’s everyday garbage-eaters – and they were big. The ones the size of my finger were running before the ones the size of my palm, who were running before the ones the size of my whole hand, who were…

Then, just as I was about to make a run for the surface – possibly while screaming like a little girl – a dark shape appeared in the tunnel. It looked human and it lurched along like it was drunk or unsteady on its feet, like the homeless guy up on the platform.

I started forward; plague of giant mutant cockroaches or no, a person down on those tracks is in several different kinds of deep trouble. The train would be along any minute, but it might not even be that long before a stumbling drunk stumbled into the third rail.

I didn’t get two steps before Janitor’s Coveralls grabbed my shoulder. “Dejalo, m’ijo,” he said. “Leave it. This is their territory.”

“Their what?” I said, starting forward again. Then I stopped short as the figure emerged from the tunnel.

It wasn’t human. If it ever had been, it wasn’t anymore. More of the black cockroaches – these ones with weird silver-colored ridges and knobs forming patterns on their shells – were swarming all over it. Over it and through it. Black bugs dripped from the sleeves of its trench coat and the cuffs of its raggedy corduroys; they spread like sweat stains across its ancient white undershirt; they concealed its feet as it shuffled forward through the swarm. It opened its mouth and a horrible crackling noise emerged, followed by more of the finger-sized black beetles. Worst of all, when it raised its head so I could see under the battered brim of its hat, I saw two of them lodged in its eye sockets, like tiny pilots operating the vehicle that had once been a man.

Coney Island: Opening The Beach

Coney Island Greeting Card

I had an experience I didn’t expect this weekend.

It was a bright, sunny summer day, and my fiancee was going record shopping with some friends to commemorate the closing of several well-beloved old record stores.  As you can probably guess from the banner, I decided to go to Coney Island instead.

When I got there, I saw people in colorful costumes and makeup, and I started to get worried.  Then I saw the police barriers set up, and I was dismayed to realize I was right: I had arrived on the day of the Mermaid Parade.

For those who are unfamiliar (and who didn’t follow that link), the Mermaid Parade is New York City’s Mardi Gras, a celebration of the beginning of summer at Coney Island, a tradition that goes back to 1983.

I’d been to the Mermaid Parade before, once on purpose and once by accident, and resolved to never go again.  Way too crowded for an introvert like myself to enjoy.  But after this weekend, I may need to make it a yearly thing.

While I would still want to avoid the parade route itself, Coney Island that day was filled with the strange and beautiful creatures of New York, with their makeup, their colored hair, and their costumes.  See here, here, here and (for this year’s event) here to see what I’m talking about, but be careful – those links are very NSFW.  It is legal for women to go topless in public in New York, and the Mermaid Parade is one of the few times you’ll see any significant number of women actually exercise that right.  Seriously, so many bare breasts in those links, you guys.

One of the Strange Beautiful Creatures you don’t see in those pictures is the Snake Guy, who was walking the boardwalk with his pet boa constrictors wrapped around his shoulders.  I didn’t pet them, but others did.

I was out on the Steeplechase Pier getting ready to leave – more specifically, to head to the Violent Femmes concert in Prospect Park where I spent the evening with my fiancee and some friends – when I noticed a bit of commotion down on the beach.

I looked down, and who should I see but Dick Zigun himself, founder of the Mermaid Parade and unofficial mayor of Coney Island:

Dick Zigun

That’s when I realized I was present for the annual Opening of the Beach!  This is the ceremony that marks the traditional beginning of summer at Coney Island.

I don’t know if this happens every year, but this year they had a houngan perform a blessing: there was drumming and chanting and shaking of an asson gourd rattle; rum was sprayed all around, and a tall, strong fellow placed a basket of fruit on his head and walked out into the water until the fruit floated out of the basket, which I believe is an offering to Agwe, the loa of the Sea.

I’ve written many times and in many places of the spiritual connection I feel to the waters, to Coney Island in particular.  To see someone else, even from a distance, even from a tradition I don’t understand very well, recognize and honor that holiness was a powerful and moving experience.

So I think I’ll go again next year.  Avoid the worst of the crowds as best I can, mingle with the strange beautiful creatures, and take a more active part in blessing the waters that have so blessed me.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday in June.

I Don’t Know What To Do

When I started this year, I had three ideas for changes of direction in my writing career:

  1. Create this site, so my marketing efforts are associated with my own name, instead of a melodramatic and rather silly blog title that I must admit I still have quite a bit of affection for.  It’s a little slow to get off the ground, but I’m going to keep plugging at it (if anyone could help by sharing me all over your social media, it would be much appreciated), because the original reason I did it remains valid and isn’t likely to change.
  2. Take down all of my short stories and only sell them as collections.  This idea has already been rescinded.
  3. Stop using Amazon KDP Select, which requires Amazon exclusivity, and start publishing on Smashwords as well, which (through their Premium Catalogue) sells through a number of different venues and formats, improving options for potential customers.

That last one has run into a significant speed bump:

No one is buying anything at the alternate venues.  A fair-to-middling month on Amazon KDP Select is better, in terms of sales, than my entire time on alternate venues.  And that’s counting the significant amount of time I spent on those alternate venues before I signed up for KDP Select the first time.

Philosophically, I’m uncomfortable with being exclusive to one venue.  I want my buyers to have options, and I don’t want to be at the mercy of some megacorp.  This is how monopolies happen.

That said, I have to be realistic.  I’m trying to build a career, here.  If Amazon Kindle has become the public’s medium of choice, then I have to do what maximizes my exposure in it.

So talk to me, folks.  I got my ears on, good buddy.  My instinct is to hit “Depublish” on all those alternate venues, and get back on KDP Select.  What do y’all think?

(PS – A little good news to go with all this: I’m very close to finished with Part 3 of Dreams of the Boardwalk, and it will be going up next week.)

Sights of New York: Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery 6-11-2016

My fiancee and I were in the neighborhood this past Saturday, and we happened to stop by Green-Wood Cemetery.  That gatehouse you see up above caught our attention.  It was beautiful and peaceful – everything a cemetery should be, instead of everything that horror writers like myself always turn them into.  We’re planning to go back sometime, to get more and better pictures.  And I’m almost certain to set a future story there.

(Still and all, we might have been better off if we hadn’t watch all four Phantasm flicks before we went to visit this place…)

The Guardian Cats of New York City: Shin-Nephura’s Neighborhood Now Available for Sale!

Cover with title

Hey, all!

As I mentioned last week, I’m starting to put short stories back up for sale again, and I’m starting by republishing the ones that were published before.  As you can tell from the illustration, the first story to get this treatment is Shin-Nephura’s Neighborhood.  My apologies to the fans of the kittehs, but yes, this does mean that the free version of this story has been taken down from this site.

Take a look at the updated Books page, the brand-new Short Stories page, or Shin-Nephura’s own page.  Or if you’re impatient, just head straight to Amazon or Smashwords to pick yourself up a copy.

To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

It was deep into the night. Even the most cat-spirited of two-legs had finished with eating their burned meats, drinking their mind-fogging poisoned waters, and inhaling their strange-flavored smokes. They had all returned to their dens to mate and to sleep. Only those with no den of their own remained out in the open airs, or those performing some strange human task or other. The great metal serpents still roared in their caves, but their bellies were nearly empty.

It was the time of the Cat.

The cat known to other cats as Shin-Nephura the Gentle, to herself by the secret name no other knew, and to the two-legs as Dodger, was out walking the streets of her domain.

She was known as “the Gentle” because she was affectionate and gracious to the two-legs of her domain, visiting them often and allowing them the liberty of scratching her head and stroking her back once she was sure they belonged. This familiarity had the benefit of teaching her much about the two-legs. For example, she knew that the name they’d given her came from one of those marvelous two-legs stories, and that it was the name of a clever thief. This pleased Shin-Nephura greatly; clever thieves are highly esteemed among cats. Also, many cats who were less in-tune with their two-legs were confused by such habits as putting on obvious mating displays and heat pheromones, but not mating. Shin-Nephura understood that the mating ritual of the two-legs was simply much longer and more complex than that of cats.

Perhaps most importantly, she had learned the names with which the two-legs marked her territory. Two streets marked the boundaries of her territory, and she lived where they came together. Their names were “Seaman Avenue” and “Dyckman Street”. For some reason, the two-legs seemed to find this funny.

She had a family of two-legs that she stayed with, who fed her and tended her hurts and stood as her companions. But unlike many cats that shared nearby dens with the two-legs, Shin-Nephura did not content herself with enjoying their companionship, playing and taking the food they gave her. She kept to the old Compact: “You will shelter us, feed us, and care for us in our illness and injury. You will honor us and give us good company. In exchange, we will protect you from the rodents that eat and foul your food, the insects that trouble you and bring disease, and the darker things that come out of the night.”

During the day, Shin-Nephura guarded the food place that her two-legs ran (in her clever listening, she had learned the words “corner bodega”).

By night, she walked a patrol.

She’d finished checking the courtyard and was just returning to the Corner Bodega when she stopped, ears pricked.


Something was coming. Something that raised the fur along her spine and made her claws twitch involuntarily in their sheaths.


Closer and louder now. Close and loud enough so that even a two-legs could have heard it. If any two-legs did hear, they would have been disturbed, even frightened, but they wouldn’t know why. Shin-Nephura knew. Whatever was coming was…wrong. It had come from the river – it squished and dripped and splashed with every step, and Shin-Nephura could smell the tidal muds – but it was no right part of the world of cats, birds, mice and two-legs.

It drew closer, and Shin-Nephura finally caught a whiff of something other than the muds.

Rotten meat.

Not like the food the two-legs so wastefully threw away, the meat just moldy or spoiled enough to be flavorful, but the smell of something long dead and decayed.


As the dead thing came around the corner and into view, Shin-Nephura’s hackles went all the way up and her claws scraped on the sidewalk.

A two-legs. The dead, lurching, half-rotten thing was a two-legs.

No wise cat wishes to face a two-legs in a straight fight. Slow, clumsy, half-deaf, night-blind, nose-numb, so often strange and silly in their behavior…it was easy to underestimate them. But yet, they were giants. Their strength was immense and their clever forepaws could create horrors. Once a cat was in a solid grip, there was little hope of wriggling free. The best one could hope for was to make the price too high.


Still. She had a duty. The ancient compact.

The dead thing was shambling toward the iron gates that led into the courtyard. They were locked, but Shin-Nephura doubted that would be any obstacle. Locks and gates were little use against something like this.


“You are not welcome in my territory, dead thing.”

Spotlighted Link: Slacktivist


I’ve been following Fred Clark’s blog, Slacktivist, for a very long time.  Back to the Typepad Days, as other long-running Slacktivites might say.  Nearly fourteen years now, almost since the very beginning of Fred’s famous deconstruction of the Left Behind books.

I chose Fred Clark to be my first Spotlighted Link, and the first link on my Links page, for three reasons:

  1. Fred’s Left Behind posts may be the best “What Not To Do” primer for writers on the Internet.  The Left Behind series is, as Fred himself says, “Instructively Bad”, and seeing their many flaws dissected (complete with suggestions as to how it could have been done better and even fix-fic in the comments) has aided the development of my own writing a great deal.
  2. Fred grew up in the White Christian Evangelical subculture, and remains a member to this day, though he is known in that subculture as “controversial” (which, if you were a reader of Fred’s work, you would know means “heretical”).  Reading Fred gives you an intimate view into this subculture, with all its traditions and shibboleths.  If you’re an American, you may think you know them.  You don’t.
  3. Last but not least, Fred has been a tremendous inspiration to me personally.  His compassion and hunger for justice, and his writings on those topics, have given me both desire and directions to be a better person.  His post LB: The Rise of the Anti-Huck (a post from his Left Behind critique) is probably the best example I can offer, as he analyzes the greatest moment of Salvation and triumph of love over The Rules in American fiction…and contrasts it with the “heroes” of Left Behind.

Check it out!  Before you go, check out my brand new Links page.

By the way, as we say in pretty much every thread on Slacktivist, Fred has a Patreon.  Support the artist.

And while you’re at it, consider picking up some of Fred’s books, which collect his blog posts.


Long March of the Koalas

…which discusses his opinions on Creationism (spoiler: not only bad science, but bad religion).

And of course, there’s what you really came for: the two-volume The Anti-Christ Handbook, which collects his columns on the first book of the Left Behind series.

Anti-Christ Handbook 1

Anti-Christ Handbook 2




A Slight Change of Direction

Hello, all.

A few months ago, I took down all of my short stories from Amazon.  It didn’t seem that people were interested in buying them individually (though there were always a few who were glad to take them when I gave them away…), and I figured that people weren’t willing to shell out a buck for such a short story, not least because they were short enough that the 10% sample viewable on Amazon was essentially the title page.  I took them down on the theory of putting them back up later in anthologies.

I’ve received some feedback recently, however, that tells me that there are people who are interested in buying my short stories after all.  Given that, and also keeping in mind that it’s better in terms of publicity to keep producing work regularly, I’m going to republish the short stories I have saved at Amazon and Smashwords, then start putting up new ones.

This isn’t going to happen right away.  I figure one story a week, starting next week, should be enough.  But beware: once I put a story up for sale, I’m going to take it down here.  The exception will be stories like Dreams of the Boardwalk, which were posted as drafts, and the version for sale will be at least somewhat different.

And there will still be anthologies, sooner or later.  Keep your eye out for those.  I’ll let you know when.

Coney Island Images – June 4, 2016

Hello, all.

My fiancee’ and I visited Coney Island this past weekend, and when she started taking pictures, it occurred to me that this might be a good way to start my long-planned media page.  Since I talk so much about Coney Island in Dreams of the Boardwalk and my other works (both fiction and non), I thought it might be a good idea to share the sights of Coney Island with all of you.  Just a few today, but I think they’re good ones – check ’em out here!