New on Smashwords: “Going Down” now with the complete “Generation Gap”

The full version of my short story “Generation Gap” is now available on Smashwords in a mini-anthology with “Going Down!” The introduction to this story was originally published on Scriggler.

If you already have “Going Down,” I’d like to thank you by sharing this new story with you for free. Just contact me with your proof of purchase and e-mail address to receive a free gift copy!


“Going Down”

While retreating from a hostile enemy on an alien world, Bryis finds herself immobile and stranded in a damaged power suit. For the first time ever, Bryis is separated from her unit. For the first time ever, she’s all alone. Bry is sure rescue will come for her… at first.

Originally published in Anthology Builder, 2015. Reprinted in Short Stories and Tall Tales, 2016.

“Generation Gap”

“Who am I?” Whether in young adulthood or middle age, most of us have asked ourselves this question. Many of us see the world in search of an answer. Young Zin, however, yearns for the ultimate in adult independence; he decides to see another world entirely. Can he make something of himself without his merchant captain father’s connections? Is his mother’s prejudice against the hardships of life on the ground as unreasonable as it seems? Is he really the man his family thinks he is, or does his true potential lie elsewhere? Join Zin on his journey to find out!

Originally published in Short Stories and Tall Tales, 2016.

Total word count: 7,730
Total page count: About 30, give or take a few depending on your e-reader.


My review of Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s “Alex & Me”

Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the ProcessAlex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To paraphrase a classical philosopher whose name I cannot recall, “He who does not speak may as well have no thought at all.” In Western society, this belief is the basis for a long-standing bias against the nonverbal (humans and the so-called “lesser” animals alike). As a person with a communication “disorder” which sometimes renders me non-vocal (but not non-thinking), I am utterly fascinated by this belief. But, you may ask, aren’t thought and spoken language intertwined? Not necessarily; spoken language only expresses thought. Speech itself, if you want my opinion, is just the ability to issue consistently patterned noise from a certain orifice (which one, of course, depends on the speaker).

So, do animals think? Current research into animal communication and language suggests that they, in fact, do. While this book does not go into the technical details of that research (see Dr. Pepperberg’s other book, The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots), it is an excellent overview of the research that is easily digestible by the layman. It also tells a heartwarming story of Dr. Pepperberg’s personal relationship with Alex, and includes many surprising (and often hilarious!) anecdotes.

If you hold any bias against the non-verbal, be they human or other animal, I hope you find yourself re-thinking it by the end of this book. For the rest of us, Dr. Pepperberg just confirms what we already know.

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‘Short Stories and Tall Tales’ from ATLA Publishing

ATLA Publishing‘s newest anthology, Short Stories and Tall Tales, is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. It features the following new writers from the U.K. and U.S.:

  • Susan Burns
    • “Star of the Show”
    • “Basic”
  • Catherine Broughton
    • “The Precious Child”
  • Ashley Holmes
    • “Late Night Thoughts”
  • Leanne Cooper
    • “The River”
  • Meg Danish
    • “Going Down”
    • “Generation Gap”
  • Sara Carroll
    • “Today’s the Day”
  • Alexander Tomov
    • “The Hotel of Absurdity”
  • Angela Stol
    • “Yours, Mine, and Ours”
  • Sarah Colliver
    • “Ocean of Tears”
  • Sandra Woodiwiss
    • “Not Righteous At All”
  • Rachel Hill
    • “I Lie For a Reason”
  • Kez Wyckham St. George
    • “My Fairy Story”
  • Amber Patton
    • “Hardwood and Shattered Glass”
  • Robert Powell
    • “Lost in My World”
  • Malek Montag
    • “Checkmate”
    • “The Queen, His Soldier, His Lover, and Her Teacher”
  • Marilyn Booker
    • “Lost Memories”
  • Max Oberon
    • “Smart Phone… Dumb Life”
    • “We Live in Exciting Times – and We Die of Boredom”
  • D.B. English
    • “The Last Chance Saloon”
    • “Father’s Day”
  • Guy Thair
    • “Flying Visit”
    • “Famous Last Words”
  • A.J. Millen
    • “Guilt Trip”
    • “Green Grow the Rushes”
  • Laura Marie Clark
    • “The Spooky Shack”
    • “Dreamcatcher”
    • “Colour Me”

Short Stories and Tall Tales also features the following artists:

  • Hannah Abbot (cover art)
  • Stephen Roberts (vignettes)
  • Carol Morse (interior illustrations)
  • Alison Neale (interior illustrations)
  • Sarah D. Scandle (interior illustrations)
  • Danyelle Smith (interior illustrations)

Editor: Anna Trowbridge

A portion of the proceeds goes to the British Heart Foundation in support of heart disease awareness and prevention.

My review of Ben Brown’s ‘Vacuum’

VacuumVacuum by Ben Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Brown’s ‘Vacuum’ explores the question that has burned within humanity since we first began watching the night sky: Who’s out there, lurking in the void? What happens when they knock, and we open the door? Are they monsters? Are we?

Brown answers these questions by taking the reader on a rocket-powered joyride through fantastical milieus and the most human of hardships. Narrating this story is Jack Bennett, a well-developed character whose journey spans the soul as well as space and time. Joining Bennett is his alien companion, Rex, whose people differ wildly from, yet are also touchingly similar to, our own.

Without giving anything away: The plot of ‘Vacuum’ is very well thought out, with excellent foreshadowing and plenty of surprises. Its ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

“What’s that old philosophical question? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Other than me, no one heard humanity fall.”
— Jack Bennett, from Ben Brown’s ‘Vacuum’

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Stuff on Smashwords

Copies of my currently published stories are now all available on Smashwords. Flash fiction is free!

My review of Steve Silberman’s ‘NeuroTribes’

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of NeurodiversityNeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently found out at age 31 that I am on the autism spectrum. I say “found out,” but really, it was more like putting a word to something I’d known all my life: My neurological layout differs from that of almost everyone around me.

I sense differently, and more intensely. Sound is louder, and I can hear higher pitches. Light is brighter. Smells are more intense. Due (I think) to their increased intensity, I process audio and visual stimuli more slowly, and it takes me longer to react. As a result, my short term, or “working,” memory is terrible, but my long term memory seems to be better than average. I can sense the feelings of those around me, but not always understand why they feel they way they do. I do not usually know what others are thinking, nor do they know what I’m thinking. Others usually cannot sense my feelings, nor read my facial expressions. The same goes for body language. It’s very rare that I meet someone broadcasting (and receiving) on the same wavelength.

I am (and have always been) a huge bookworm, so my diagnostician suggested I look into some books on the subject of autism. I picked up NeuroTribes as a starting point. It was quite the page-turner! I tore through it in about three days.

What this book is:

– A history of autism, the clinical standards used to diagnose it, and its classification(s)
– A qualitative look at the lives of individual autistic people and parents of autistic children
– An overview of autistic contributions to science, technology, and culture throughout history (but especially in the Information Age)
– Insight into the general neurotypical point-of-view regarding autistic people and autism
– A roadmap to guide neurotypical understanding of autistic thought processes

What this book is *not*:

– A how-to guide on making autistic people more neurotypical, or even making us appear more neurotypical
– A pity party for those neurotypicals who imagine it worse to live and work alongside autistic people than to actually deal with the effects of being autistic in a world not made for us
– Eugenics propaganda

If you want advice on making autistic people more “normal,” or on reducing/removing our presence in the population, then this book is not for you. I should note here that the author of this book is *not* autistic, just very open-minded.

If, however, you seek to understand the growing population of autistic people (much as we must seek constantly to understand neurotypicals), then I think you will find this an engaging and enlightening read. I know I did.

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“Going Down” now available on Amazon Kindle!

My first published short story is now available on Amazon Kindle for the super-affordable price of $0.99!

“Going Down” is the first in my series of stories about the Fleet, a space-faring, quasi-militaristic society in a bottle. With no faster-than-light travel capabilities, the time dilation experienced at near-light speeds puts Fleet culture out of sync with the rest of the universe.

“Going Down” follows a Fleet infantry soldier named Bryis who, while retreating from a hostile enemy on an alien planet, finds herself immobile and stranded in a damaged power suit. For the first time ever, Bryis is separated from her unit. For the first time ever, she’s all alone. Bry is sure rescue will come for her… at first.

Find out what happens next here, if you’re so inclined 🙂