Changes Coming – Big Changes

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Hi everyone. I wanted to stop in and let you know that I am making some big changes to the site here, and to a lot of things.

I am stopping the blog. The site will still be here, a landing site that will tell a bit about me and a link to my library and newsletter. I’ll still have my FaceBook and Twitter, but that’s about it. I’m ending my editing and review services (though I will still review books on Goodreads and Amazon when I read books).

I’ve come to a realization about my time due to circumstances that have happened over the last few months. I’ve had to end a few things, so I can keep priorities straight – namely family.

So, while I will not have a blog that updates regularly (hasn’t in some time as it is), I will keep everyone updated through my newsletter – probably once a month. I’ll have stories packed in there as well. You can sign up and keep in touch with me. I’d like that. You can also drop in on Twitter and Facebook to say Hi. I’d like that a lot, too.

I’ve enjoyed this blog, and I’ll miss it. I’ll miss all of you more. Hope to see you all around this wide world of ours, though.

I wish you all the best. Sincerely.

I’ll leave the blog up for one more week, then the new site will emerge. Until then, you all take care of yourselves.

 

Russ

The Guardian

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With her clothes torn and body bloodied, Miranda stood by the lake. Morning mist spilled onto the shore and into the woods. Her thoughts traveled south with the mist into the village. She would regret the children, but the beast would spare no one.

The village named this place Onheil because they believed something evil lived there. Miranda became their fixed point of fear. Every illness. Every accident.

She could forgive their ignorance. A beautiful young maiden alone in the woods. Her dark skin contrasted against their pale. How could they know she protected them?

Fear turned to violence last night. A young child died from fever. The men took Miranda and broke their fear on her body. They left her in the woods to die.

“The guardian becomes the monster they fear.” Miranda closed her eyes. “I release you.”

The lake bubbled and frothed. A giant, dark monster broke the surface with a roar that shook the ground. It glared at Miranda with yellow eyes.

An image filled Miranda’s mind. Margaret. A girl that glowed with joy whenever Miranda visited. She would dance with laughter and life.

Fear squeezed Miranda’s throat. “No! No matter what they have done. For her sake, I do not release you!”

The monster bent low and roared with anger. It rushed toward the lake’s shore.

“I said no! By the one who gave me dominion, no!”

The mist rushed back toward the lake and wrapped around the beast. The monster roared and struggled, but could not break free. The mist pulled it beneath the surface. Miranda watched and fell to her knees when the lake calmed. She shook and wailed.

Sunlight broke through the canopy of the woods and touched her. Miranda closed her eyes and let the warmth heal her.

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I first wrote this for a flash fiction contest – I didn’t win. Still, I like this. I’m sure it has many flaws, but I like the story. Would love to know what you think. I apologize for being so sporadic lately. Many things going on and stealing my thoughts and time. I won’t make promises of being on here more frequently, just know that I will try. Hope you all are well. Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing.

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I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can Contact me through email, or Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.

Like what you’re reading? Join my New story Email Group. You’ll get the latest news and access to stories you won’t find anywhere else. (And offers for my books not available to anyone else).

Book Review: The Soldier Who Killed A King by David Kitz

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Here is my review of David Kitz’s book, The Soldier Who Killed a King.

Summary (from Amazon):

A stunning story of Holy Week through the eyes of a Roman centurion

Watch the triumphal entry of the donkey-riding king through the eyes of Marcus Longinus, the centurion charged with keeping the streets from erupting into open rebellion.

Look behind the scenes at the political plotting of King Herod, known as the scheming Fox for his ruthless shrewdness.

Get a front-row seat to the confrontation between the Jewish high priest Caiaphas and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

Understand as never before the horror of the decision to save a brutal terrorist in order to condemn the peaceful Jew to death.

If you’ve heard the story of Passion Week so often it’s become stale, now is the time to rediscover the terrible events leading from Jesus’s humble ride into the city to his crucifixion. The Soldier Who Killed a King will stun you afresh with how completely Christ’s resurrection changed history, one life at a time.

What I liked:

I love the idea of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection told through the eyes of a Roman soldier. The setting in this book is alive and a vital character throughout the story. While I would have to do  a little research to see how accurate the story portrayed the city, I enjoyed wandering through ancient Jerusalem.

The characters were not one-dimensional archetypes, but fleshed out human beings caught in extraordinary circumstances. While not all of their reactions played well into who they were (more on that in the next section), they did not strike me as forced.

The crucifixion and resurrection scenes contained emotional depth and gravitas. Holy Week is important to me, and both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus anchor everything that I am. David did not disappoint in his story here.

What I did not like:

The writing could use some polishing. There was an overemphasis on dialogue tags, explanations of actions and thoughts, and writing that jolted me out of the story.

Example:

“You, you, and you!” I stabbed my index finger in the direction of the most dressed and prepared-looking soldiers. “Strap on your swords and follow me. Now!”

Then, addressing the other soldiers, I announced, “The rest of you….” (pg 130)

This is probably a preference of mine, but I like it when the author trusts the reader. Minimize the explanation, the direction, and show me what’s going on in the scene. Trust me to understand the little details without actually telling me the little details.

At times, the actions of the characters didn’t strike me as fitting in the time period or with who the characters were. They felt too modern, too western-culture-minded. The same could be said for the timeframe of each chapter. The addition of the day, time, and Month again threw me out of the story’s setting and into a modern setting. This is also probably just a preference rather than a strike against the author.

The overall accuracy of historical characters and events left a lot to be desired. The Roman hierarchy, the neglect of the Sadducees completely, who did what and when (Herod’s soldiers crowning Jesus, priests taking soldiers captive, etc.), all distracted from the story rather than add to it.

Conclusion:

The Soldier Who Killed A King is a promising book that offers much to like, though it does have some flaws that can distract. It’s a great read for Holy Week, to add to the reader’s mindset for arguably the most important week in Christianity.

Full disclosure: I received a paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I thank Mr. Kitz for allowing me to read this story, it has given me much to reflect on for Holy Week, and every week beyond it.

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I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can Contact me through email, or Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.

Like what you’re reading? Join my New story Email Group. You’ll get the latest news and access to stories you won’t find anywhere else. (And offers for my books not available to anyone else).

A Dark and Stormy Night

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Thunder rolled in the distance. Lightning streaked the sky. A forked bolt touched the ground and lit the horizon for a moment. Eric marked the distance and pulled the collar of his duster up around his neck. Cold drops reached between his Stetson and collar to prick his neck. Was that it? There was something in the shadow and light. One mile, maybe two. But, was it the Ark?

“I can’t do it. I just can’t.” Jim’s weak voice broke Eric from his thoughts.

Eric turned and found Jim slumped down on his knees in the mud. His hat laid next to him and his duster fell from his shoulders. His face was turned up and the rain ran over his open eyes and open mouth.

“Get up. It’s just over the horizon.” Eric gazed back toward the spot he marked. It was hidden in the darkness, but the brief flash was enough for him to remember its location.

Jim laughed. Weak and quiet. “That’s what you’ve said for near’on a week. We ain’ any closer to findin’ yer blasted Ark than when we started.”

Eric sighed. Jim was right. They’ve chased the story of the Ark for over a week now without any sign that they’d ever find it. But it had to be there. Somewhere up ahead. Maggie wouldn’t lie. Not to him.

“Get up. Time we get movin’.” Eric took a few steps forward, but stopped when Jim made no motion to follow. “I said get up, Jim. We’ll rest in a few hours.”

“I’m done, Eric. Did you not hear me? I can’t do it. Not no more.” Jim lay back in the mud.

“Now you listen to me, you lazy…” Eric bit his lip to quell the fear and anger rising inside him. “We ain’ givin’ in like that. Not like the others. You promised me.”

“Promised you? What did I promise you? Promised to follow you. Thought maybe you was onto somethin’. Hope. Yeah, thought there was some hope in that bull you was peddlin’ when you came by. Whole town thought you was a fool. Thought I was a fool fer followin’ ya. But the way you spoke.” Jim wiped the water off his face, but the rain beat down on him more.

“And what did I say?”

“That there was a place that wasn’t drowning in this rain, that wasn’t choked by this darkness.”

“And there is.”

“How do you know?” Jim slapped the ground and splashed the puddles all around. “Have you ever seen it? Have you ever seen anythin’ but this blasted darkness and rain? Anywhere? I’ve not seen it. My whole life has been dark and rain and misery. That’s just how it is. Ain’ nothin’ out there different. Ain’ nothin’ out there but this.”

“But the old stories…”

“The old stories? Wake up, Eric! You’re lookin’ for a place because of stories written by dreamers. People who wanted to escape and so they made up stories. Are you tellin’ me we’ve been troddin’ through mud and storms because of stories?”

“Maggie told me…”

“Yeah, if she knew this place, why’d she ever leave?”

“She left so others would know.” Eric closed his eyes and saw Maggie’s face. Those dark brown eyes held a light that pierced his soul. He would have followed her anywhere.

“And where did that get her?”

Eric’s shoulders slumped, his eyes still closed. In his mind, Maggie lay in his arms. The sickness took her and she touched his face while the light left those eyes. Her dark brown hand unlike his or anyone else he knew, smooth. Not wrinkled and waterlogged. It was her hand, as much as the light in her eyes and her words, that convinced him. She was not from the rain and darkness. Hers was another place, a better place.

And he would find it.

“I’m goin’. I want you to come with me, Jim, but I’m goin’ either way.” Eric looked toward the marked spot again.

“Why? Why do you keep goin’ when everythin’ around you says you’re a fool. The world itself says it.”

“Hope.” Eric took two steps forward, but stopped when he heard splashing behind him. He turned to see Jim rise up to his knees.

“Well, don’ just stand there gawkin’. Give me a hand up, unless you plan on draggin’ me the whole way.”

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I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can Contact me through email, or Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.

Like what you’re reading? Join my New story Email Group. You’ll get the latest news and access to stories you won’t find anywhere else. (And offers for my books not available to anyone else).

Flash Fiction Friday: The Spaceship

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Here’s my entry into this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers contest. It’s been awhile. Enjoy it!

“This is your plan? A windmill?” Stephanie eyed the stone colossus.

Martin grabbed her hand. “Take a look inside with me.”

“And what do you have hidden in there? A spaceship?” A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth.

“Somethin’ like that.”

The windmill’s door closed with a solid thunk behind them.

“Lights!”

Light filled the windmill. The walls glowed with it.

“It is a spaceship, isn’t it?”

“It’s more of a…well, yes, it’s a spaceship.” Martin rubbed his hands together. “Wanna take it for a spin?”

“Sorry, Marty boy. No joy ride for you.” In a flash of movement, Stephanie held a round ball in her hand.

Martin stumbled backward. “No.”

“Oh, but yes. Agent Mercucio, Interstellar Coalition. We’ve been tracking this bad-boy for awhile. Game’s up.”

Stephanie tossed the ball in the air and a shimmering bubble enveloped Martin. She tapped the palm of her hand. “We’ve got it. No, I don’t think he knew what it was. Spaceship, he called it.”

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If you want to read more great stories, click on the frog below:

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I have been away a lot lately. Trying not to, but life does happen. Hope you all are well. Drop me a line and say hi!

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I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can Contact me through email, or Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.

Like what you’re reading? Join my New story Email Group. You’ll get the latest news and access to stories you won’t find anywhere else. (And offers for my books not available to anyone else).

Stories of Hope

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