Tag Archives: Book

Cover Reveal – It’s Cold Outside

I write a lot of short stories, some of which are for the blog, like answers to challenges, and some that never make it to the blog. I have twice put out books of short stories. My first book was Seasons of Imagination and then I did Embers. The stories in these books were very eclectic and tended towards the short, though both had longer stories, even novellas.

You can see where this is leading, can’t you?

Yes, I am putting out a new book of short stories!

This time I decided to use a selection of only science fiction stories. The average length is also much longer. As with the other two books, the theme unifying these stories might be a little thin, but it does exist.

And here is the moment you’ve been waiting for, the cover:

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Bleak House – Charles Dickens Challenge Reminder

Charles Dickens at his Desk in 1858 – This was from Wikimedia and I make no claim to ownership

In late January and into early February I did a little research. Yeah, in the modern age a half hour with Google counts as “a little research” ;) OK, it was more than a half of an hour. Anyway, using several searches such as “what is the best Charles Dickens novel”, I discovered that the book that topped the most lists was Bleak House. Not just that, several people were of the opinion that to understand Charles Dickens you needed to understand Bleak House, that it was the key.

Sounds great, right? I thought so, and so did Yvette Prior. The two of us picked Bleak House for our 2022 Dickens challenge. (Last year was Little Dorrit).

Join us?

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Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens! Bleak House Challenge #Dickenschallenge

Charles Dickens at his Desk in 1858 – This was from Wikimedia and I make no claim to ownership

Today, February 7, is Charles Dickens’ birthday. Dickens needs no introduction, though last year I filled a couple of paragraphs with introduction.  And thinking back to last year, if you remember, Yvette Prior and I ran a little “Little Dorrit” challenge.  The idea was to read the book before the anniversary of Dickens’ death on June 9th and then have a discussion.  I ended up reading the entire book at the last minute.  Oh well.  But it was fun and I’m glad we did it.

In fact, it was so fun that we are repeating the challenge!  No, no, no, we are not asking you to read “Little Dorrit” again!  No, this year the challenge is to read “Bleak House” by the 9th of June.

When I did a search of “the best Dickens’ book” I found that many scholars give that honor to “Bleak House”, even though it is not necessarily the most popular.  And, of course, it is all a matter of opinion, so a few scholars had other books as their top pick.

So, the way it works is that Yvette and I will read this book and each of us will do a post or two on it, but to make it fun we are inviting others to join in!  We’d like other posts about it and discussion on our posts.  The more people who participate, the better it will be.

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Martha Goode – The Old Mill

Martha Goode, and that is the First Martha, was the very first resident of the brand new, ultra-modern Goode Mansion.  Her mother, Abigail, was rushed out of the heavily damaged farm house while in labor (“no child of mien will be born in this house of fire and death”) and gave birth to Martha less than an hour after being moved.

Martha grew up to be a very intelligent woman.  At 18 she gained control of the Goode Mill, the old mill, and took the burnt-out hulk and created the most efficient, most profitable mill in the region, all the while paying the workers at her mill a third more than anyone else paid their labor.

She later lost the mill, a victim of a highly patriarchal society, but kept the mansion, the mansion defined by her; the mansion that defined her.

As she aged, she grew stranger and stranger. Who could blame her after all she had seen, experienced and dealt with, from an extremely violent and abusive “father” to the death threats as her legal battles got stretched across many years. Towards the end, few remembered the remarkable woman who had saved the town, only the eccentric who lived up the hill in the ancient house.  Legends grew around her, even while she was still alive.

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Galvin – The Old Mill

Galvin is… Well, Galvin is Galvin.  There is no better way to describe him than that.  Some would say he is “a character” or “a bit of local color”.   Others might shake their head and mumble “eccentric” or “oddball” while still others would say “every town has their Galvin.”  Gill isn’t so sure – he has never met anybody quite like the strange, little old man. 

Strange, of course, is a matter of opinion, but “little” fits to some extent.  Galvin is small and wiry, perhaps 5 foot 6 and 115 pounds, maybe less, but surprisingly strong.  In ways, “old” is more attitude than age.  Galvin is in his mid-60s, but has always tried to put himself up as older and more experienced.  And there is something about him that if you didn’t know, you might place him closer to 80 than 60.  Yet he is active and agile, spry as a 22-year-old.

Galvin loves to tell tall tales and can spin quite a yarn.  On the other hand, doing a little research you might find that some of his most outrageous claims about the town’s history are true.

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The Old Mill – Released!

A stench lies on Avebury, New Hampshire. It isn’t something that one can smell, it is more of a psychic soot polluting everybody’s mood. No one recalls when it arrived, but there does seem to be a connection with the Old Mill and its mysterious new owners.


Following the trail of the local legend, the ghost of Martha Goode, Gill Baxter is driven to discover the truth behind the events of 1821 and, hopefully, prevent another “time of dying.” That trail, though, leads directly to The Old Mill.


The Old Mill was released today! You can find it on Amazon with the links below:




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Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens! (Little Dorrit “Challenge”)

Charles Dickens at his Desk in 1858 – This was from Wikimedia and I make no claim to ownership

Today, February 7, is Charles Dickens’ birthday. This an author who needs little or no introduction, being perhaps the most famous 19th century English language author.  Even if they haven’t read a word, everyone knows A Christmas Carol, can quote the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities and most likely can summarize Oliver Twist.  There are other big name books, like David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, etc. 

Dickens is known for some of the most colorful characters created in the English language.  He also pushed for social reform and helped improve the lot of the average British citizen.  He is often thought of as the greatest, most influential British author since William Shakespeare. 

Anyway, the man is well known and well respected.

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Jessica Franks – The Old Mill

Jessica Franks is, as the saying goes, 35 going on 16.  Or do they say it the other way around?  It doesn’t matter, since for Jessica, the first statement is completely true.

Back when she really was 16, Jessica Wallace (her family name) was an intelligent, vivacious young lady with a bright future.  A romantic at heart, she found dark corners of the library to read love poems.  That romantic side also showed itself with her fantasies about that cute 22-year-old programmer that lived next door to Amy, Gill Baxter.  Gill, for his part, attempted to ignore Jess and her group of friends, The Inseparables, so Jess flirted with him to get his attention.  All of the time.  And in not-so-subtle ways.

But then things changed.  Or perhaps, they didn’t.  The world moved on, and the pages of the calendar flipped, but Jess seemed to be frozen in time.

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Lyndsey Wallace – The Old Mill

Lyndsey Wallace is living the dream.  She love, loves her job and is zipping her way up the org chart like nobody’s business.  She gets up every morning raring and restless to get started and yet looks forward to when she might achieve her true dream, being the head of research.  And that goal now seems within her reach.  Only…


She isn’t sure what’s wrong.

It has to be the move.  The move is frazzling everyone’s nerves. Ripping everything down and rebuilding it.  Reworking every process imaginable.  Ugh.  Her last few weeks have been a nightmare!

Yes, yes, she always loves the challenge.  The sense of accomplishment when she solves the impossible, well, there is nothing quite like it, is there? And there is that energy she gets from doing it all, slaying one daunting task after another.

In many ways, the move has been a test, and she has been acing every problem. She felt fantastic.

Maybe it’s not the move.

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Gill Baxter – The Old Mill

Gill is the quintessential computer nerd.  He is an extreme introvert, a bit shy and more than a little insecure in his personal life.  Sure, he is super competent and confident where work is concern, and with his hobbies he is a whiz, but where women are concerned?  Forget it.  “That’s what a bitter divorce does to you,” he would say, though he had to admit that he had always been like that.

Which brings up his biggest weakness, his reaction to women.  He is very much a modern man that understands equality, is 100% behind the “Me Too” movement and treats his female colleagues with the same respect as the males.  And yet, he reacts to females in a physical way.  Or, as his friend Wayne would say, “Just the thought of a soft curve or a scent of perfume and he is off his rocker.” Part of that, unfortunately, is that he is easily embarrassed and, again in Wayne’s words, Gill can “blush like a 10-year-old girl, which he does at the drop of a hat.”

In his defense, it usually takes someone knowing how to push his buttons to get him to turn red, something his flirtatious housekeeper, Jessica, has down to a science.

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