Free Books on Independence Day!

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In honor of July 4th, I’m offering five full-length ebooks absolutely free from Amazon.  Follow any of the links here to get your free copies. Happy Independence Day!

Bad Timing

Devil’s Dozen

The Valentine’s Day Massacre

The 13 Days of Halloween

Decline & Fall of the Publishing Empire

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Start the New Year Off With Some Quality Fiction

With the post-Christmas shopping rush about to kick in, I thought I’d make a few suggestions for all of you out there looking to add something to your new holiday toys.  Below is a list of my fiction work, available at Amazon and various other online retailers.  Nothing beats a good book to kick off 2012.

Bad Timing

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Life is hard. We’re all broke these days, struggling to make ends meet. Our money is burning through us faster than we can earn it, eaten up by our credit card interest, balloon payments on the mortgage, or upwardly spiraling gas prices. Then your car breaks down.

You’re girlfriend is cheating on you with the guy she met at the gym, or you’ve caught you’re husband fooling around with his secretary. The kids just got suspended for something they put on their Facebook page, and you’re dog got sick and died, but not before ringing up four grand in vet bills. Then next week, the company you work for is set to start downsizing.

We’re all living through the 21st century version of the Great Depression, and you have to take off your shoes to get on a plane. But here are twenty-five stories about people who, whatever your problems, are much worse off. There are bodies to hide, ghostly Indians out for blood, cannibalistic homeless people, ever-present blizzards, soul-crushing isolation, loneliness, man-eating trees and much more.

So the next time you start complaining about your cell phone bill, or the dent left in your car door at the grocery store parking lot, remember that you’re not one of these folks. Life is still hard, but it could always be worse.

Buy in print from Amazon

Buy in print from Create Space eStore

Buy for the Amazon Kindle

Buy for the Barnes & Noble Nook

Buy for the Sony eReader

Buy from the Kobo ebook store

Buy from the Diesel ebook store

Buy in various digital and mobile formats from Smashwords

Buy in the Apple iBook Store

Devil’s Dozen

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Obscure (adj)  1. Lacking light, dark  2. Not easily perceived  3. Undefined, ambiguous, cryptic, hidden

Most of us dwell in the occasional bright places between the shadows, trying to find a few rays of light to lead us out from the darkness.  But all too often, the undefined gloom becomes as a black hole, so dark with such a gravitational pull that no light can break through the veil, leaving us to only stumble around without clarity or vision.

And once we become trapped, unable to see the way, we discover that there are other things in the dark with us.

Strange (adj)  1. Of another place, foreign, alien  2. Not previously known or experienced  3. Quite unusual or extraordinary  4. Peculiar, odd  5. Distant, cold in manner

Some of these things in the dark with us are benign or even friendly, fellow travelers just searching for the path home.  But there are the others, malignant and evil, that use the dark to prey on the lost and helpless.  Those are the ones you need to watch out for because, sometimes, lost in the blackness, you can’t tell the difference.

This book is a collection of 13 tales of people getting caught in the dark, and whether or not they can find light enough to escape it.  Violence, madness and death await those that fail, and sometimes, they’re the lucky ones.  Being trapped in the dark can be terrifying, you can pull yourself together and find a way out or you can collapse in on yourself, lost forever.  These tales are like guideposts, a path through the dark where some have fallen by the wayside.

But before you start reading, you have to ask yourself one simple question, are you afraid of the dark?

Buy for the Kindle at Amazon

Buy for the Barnes & Noble Nook

Buy for other devices or formats at Smashwords

Buy from the Apple iBookstore

Buy from the Diesel ebook store

Buy from Sony ebook store

The Watershed Chronicle’s 13 Days of Halloween

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Halloween is my absolute favorite time of year!  It’s so much fun that I had to stretch it out into a two-week long celebration of all things creepy and frightening.  Every day for 13 days leading up to Halloween, there is something scary good to do.  In The Watershed Chronicle’s 13 Days of Halloween, there is a little something to entice even the most hardcore horror fan.

Horror is such a pervasive genre in our culture, and it’s all covered here.  From the spookiest author ever, Edgar Allan Poe, to the most terrifying actor, Vincent Price, to the most ghoulishly brilliant director, Alfred Hitchcock, their best and most horrifying works are covered.  There are real-life ghost stories, a look at where some of the most popular rituals of Halloween originated, and rundowns of the best movies, books and television horror stories ever devised.  To top it off, there’s even some ghostly fiction, culminating in a never-before-published short story by yours truly.

October is a time of year like none other if you enjoy being scared out of your wits.  But what happens in October doesn’t have to stay in October.  Halloween is the best of all holidays, and there’s no reason you can’t celebrate year-round.  This book can help.  Happy Halloween!

Buy from Smashwords

Buy for Amazon Kindle

Watershed Tales

This is an ongoing series of individually published, longer-form (5,000+ words) short stories available for sale.  Each tale is an independent, stand alone story for only 99 cents. 

The Long Walk

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What happens when your conscience is over-ridden by your orders?  Is it better to simply do as your told, even when you find the actions abhorrent?  And if you do, despite your better judgment, what kind of consequences will follow, if any?

In The Long Walk, a young cavalryman gets assigned the duty of escorting some particularly violent prisoners to their place of execution.  The manner planned for the  deaths of the condemned is particularly horrible, but no one questions their actions or orders until it’s far too late.  Honor doesn’t supersede duty in the unforgiving desert, and the results are severe.

Buy from Smashwords

Buy for Amazon Kindle

Kingdom of the Sick

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It’s often been said that money can buy happiness, but that’s not always the case.  Sometimes, great wealth can create far more problems than it solves.  For Ashley Blair, daughter of wealthy businessman Charles Blair, trouble and torment has been the story of her life.

The family home, and an almost ethereal garden hidden on the property, has been the one constant in her ever-shifting existence.  Now that her father is nearing his own death, and the vultures of her siblings are circling to pick his bones for their inheritance, Ashe needs the solace of her childhood secret more than ever.  But will she find that peace she desperately desires?

Buy from Smashwords

Buy for Amazon Kindle

Faded Summer Leaves

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You hear so much about the innocence of youth, but in truth, youth isn’t all that innocent.  The same mean-spirited viciousness, rage and emotional trauma adults suffer through exists for the young, as well.  And often, the lack of experience of youth amplifies the problem.

Growing up is a hard row to hoe sometimes, and for a small, scrawny little kid like Tommy, it can be even tougher.  But everyone has their limits, even someone who you wouldn’t think could ever stand up for themselves.  A group of young boys on an afternoon fishing excursion is the stuff of sweet anecdotes and quaint paintings.  That is, until things go sour.  On this particular day, Roy, the town bully, really should have kept his mouth shut.

Buy from Smashwords

Buy for Amazon Kindle

Journalistic Integrity

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Reporters and war correspondents regularly put themselves in harm’s way all in the name of journalism, ratings and informing the people.  Most times, things work out; sometimes they go horribly wrong.  When a military madman rises to power in a former Russian province after the collapse of the Soviet Union, threatening Moscow and London with some old Soviet nukes he’d managed to get his hands on, it looks like the story of the century.

A bevy of reporters from all the major news agencies in the world make their way through the war-torn countryside in pursuit of an exclusive.  But when they find what they’re looking for, these newsmen discover that instead of covering the story, they are about to become it.

Buy From Smashwords

Buy From Amazon

The Garden

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Isolation can do strange things to a person, and there can be no place more alone than the depths of space.  Duane’s an astronaut on a 20-year mission to test technology for mankind’s greatest exploration ever.  His ship, being fully automated, leaves him with lots of time to fill.  The large garden that provides his food, water and oxygen for the journey is his only distraction from the tedium.

But several years into his mission, he loses contact with Earth.  The constant loneliness begins to dredge up memories of his unhappy past, and the garden that provides not only the elements for his survival but also his sanity, is threatened.  Will Duane find within himself what it takes to survive and make it back home or will he be lost forever?

This edition of Watershed Tales also includes a short bonus tale, Travis Walton Never Had It So Bad, a story of planetary exploration and how very wrong things can go.

Buy From Smashwords

Buy From Amazon

The 13 Days of Halloween: More Fiction For the Season–The Trail

Today, for The 13 Days of Halloween, I have another piece of spooky short fiction.  It’s called The Trail, and it’s from my recently released short story collection Devil’s Dozen.  If there is a lesson to be learned here, its to always be prepared, especially when you go out on a day hike.  You just never know who you might meet.  And like all of us, the spirits get lonely sometimes, too.

The Trail

Aaron watched in growing fear as the shadows crept over the trees, shrouding the forest around him in an ever-increasing blanket of darkness.  The sounds of the animals rustling in the leaves, or the crickets chirping had seemed so natural and friendly earlier in the bright light of day.  This wooded landscape, so beautiful and awe-inspiring only a few hours ago, now seemed to be made up of the building blocks from his most horrid nightmares.  As the encroaching dark continued to drown out his vision, the formerly-welcoming array of sounds were beginning to take on an evil, unknown quality.  But at least he was still on the trail.

He has mis-timed how long the leisurely hike up the mountain would take.  By his best guess, the sun had just passed the horizon and Aaron was still at least three miles from where he had parked his truck.  The semi-darkness didn’t allow for a very good view of the path before him as he continued to scuffle along at a quickened pace.  One false step, and Aaron’s foot struck on a large rock protruding from the earth, causing him to lose his balance and topple to the ground, striking his elbow on another such jagged stone.  The sharp tinge of pain that shot up his arm forced a low yelp from Aaron in response.  He at least still had the capacity to muffle his cry so as not to attract undue attention to himself here, alone in the darkening forest.

Despite his growing apprehension, Aaron was slightly pleased he still managed to possess enough self-control to remain cautious.  Black bears and even some types of wild cats were known to roam these woods, and he wasn’t about to attract one if he could help it.  He collected himself from the ground and rubbed his sore elbow, feeling a small abrasion and a corresponding still-swelling bump, but luckily nothing was broken, this time.  With darkness continuing to fall, and his being without a flashlight or lantern of any sort, more such falls were almost inevitable.

From what he could still see through the shroud of trees above him, the sky was becoming increasingly overcast, as well.  That would effectively cut off any light he could have expected from the evening’s near-full moon.  Aaron couldn’t decide whether to continue on and further risk injury or try and find some sort of shelter nearby.  There appeared to be a clearing off to his left where he could build a fire.  If he stayed here, with no supplies except for a lighter, a small utility knife and a water bottle containing only a few more swallows, he would have to have a fire, he thought.  And now, he felt like a bigger fool than ever for his decision to leave his phone in the truck.  He’d wanted a nice, relaxing day, out of touch from the world constantly pushing at him through that little device.  Well, he got his wish. Aaron couldn’t be more out of touch with the world than he was right now.

He considered his predicament for a moment before deciding that a fire would be too risky.  If nothing else, the warmth would attract snakes, and that would be the last thing he needed.  But to stay here without a fire would be equally risky, if not worse.  The temperature was supposed to fall into the thirties overnight, and Aaron didn’t even have a well-insulated coat, let alone any blankets.  In the end, he thought he might be better off continuing onward, even in the dark, than to risk death from exposure.

“What the hell are you doin’ out here?” a voice suddenly called out through the darkness from somewhere behind Aaron, sending a stark fear bolting through him.  His mind instantly raced to all sorts of gruesome possibilities.  Maybe he had stumbled onto the killing grounds of some vicious mass murderer who lived out in these secluded woods.  It could be some whacko just waiting for people to get lost out here where help was nonexistent, so he could brutally kill them and use them for stew.

Aaron spun around to try and get a good look at this potential assailant.

“Uh, I, um, got a little mixed up and lost track of time,” Aaron said, knowing that it was probably not a good idea to give up too much information but figuring it was as good an explanation as any.

“Damn stupid kids,” the voice replied, getting slightly louder as it continued, sounding as though it was approaching.

Through the blackening haze, he finally began to make out the silhouette of a man, decked out in what appeared to be all the necessary hiking supplies he had neglected to bring himself.  As the man got closer, Aaron took a small step back, still uncertain of the stranger’s motivations.  The man’s voice sounded like someone in his mid-thirties, maybe older, but he still couldn’t make out a face to confirm his suspicions.  The darkness covered the man enough that he couldn’t make out very many specific details.  The only thing he could tell for certain was that he appeared to be wearing a heavy white coat and carrying a large dark blue or possibly black backpack.

“Look kid,” the man spoke again, “Do you have any idea where you are?”

“Yes,” Aaron replied, trying desperately to sound confident.  “I’m on the trail I started on this morning and I think my truck is just a couple miles further on.”

“You think?  You’re gonna get yourself killed not knowing where you are at all times out here,” the man scolded him.  “Got it?”

Aaron nodded slowly, not completely sure if the man could see his response.

“Look, if you’re not certain, you’d better find someplace to stay out here for the night then try and find your way back in the daylight.”

“That’s what I was trying to figure out,” Aaron said.  “I was gonna build a fire in that clearing over there.”

“Bad idea,” the man said, matter of factly.  “A fire out in the open like this’ll bring a bear right to ya.  And we’ve got timber rattlers out here, too, that love to curl up with campers beside the fire.  One of those bites ya way out here, and you’ll be dead before you ever get back to your car.

“There’s a small cave off of the left side of this trail here about a hundred yards on up.  I used it a couple years back when I got caught in a snowstorm.  You’ll be safe there.”

Aaron initially wanted to say no thanks to the man, was still more than a little unnerved by his sudden appearance from nowhere.  But he also didn’t want to spend the night out here in the cold.  Plus, the man’s mention of timber rattlers only added to his earlier fear of snakes.  The man, despite Aaron’s misgivings, did seem to know his way around the forest.  And he had said that he’d used the cave of which he spoke before, in conditions that must have been much worse than this.

The man began to walk away without waiting for a reply from Aaron, as if the matter had been settled.  The choice was abrupt and stark; stay here and get eaten or maybe freeze to death, or follow the man to the cave and pass an uncomfortable night hoping for the best.  Aaron finally made his call, deciding on what he considered to be the lesser of the two evils he now faced, and quickly followed the man.

The stranger walked over the rough and unseen terrain as smoothly as if he were crossing a linoleum kitchen floor.  Aaron, on the other hand, lost his balance, stumbled and nearly fell several times, but somehow willed himself to stay upright.  He didn’t want to appear any more incompetent than he already did.  They walked on for a brief few minutes before the man stopped and pointed to an area to the left of the trail.

“There’s the cave,” he said.

Aaron strained his eyes in that direction, barely making out a small patch that remarkably seemed to be darker than the surrounding area.

‘I really don’t wanna go in there,’ he thought instantly, but still went along with the suggestion because he didn’t want to offend the man who seemed so much more knowledgeable about survival that he was.

“I’ll go in first and check it out,” the stranger said, almost seeming to sense Aaron’s apprehension, “to make sure there aren’t any critters already living here.”

The man knelt down and disappeared into the small black hole.  Aaron waited impatiently in the dull, fading light, suppressing a sudden urge to turn and run back down the trail now, while the stranger couldn’t see him.

“It’s all clear,” the man’s voice eventually called out from the void with a slightly perceptible echo in its tone, “Come on down.”

Aaron took a deep breath, and made his way to the opening, testing each step before him slightly.  He put out his hand to feel his way into the cave when it came to rest on a large stone above the entrance.  Pausing for an instant for a closer examination, Aaron realized that the cave was actually just a crevice between a collection of much larger rocks, and not a hole leading into the ground as he had assumed.

He slowly bent down and made his way into the opening, still being extremely cautious of each step.  Soon, he reached what felt like a level floor, and he began to walk deeper into the cave.  Moving further into the darkness, Aaron found himself again questioning the man.  How did he get down here without a light, and why wasn’t there one on now?

“Excuse me, sir?” Aaron called out softly, hearing even his light, hesitant words bounce back at him from the rock walls.  “Are you there?”

Suddenly, a loud crash came from behind him, causing Aaron to let out a screech of shock and fear.  Unlike when he had tripped on the trail earlier, in here, in the chill air and total darkness, he hadn’t been able to muffle his unexpected cry.

‘Oh, screw this,’ he thought, and turned to try and head back out into the wilderness, feeling his way toward the entrance as he could no longer even make out the faintest hint of light before him.  But when he reached the place where he knew the cave’s opening had been, he found the way blocked by one of the large stones he’d felt as he’d entered.  Gripped by a sudden panic, Aaron pressed his shoulders into the stone, digging his feet into the ground and shoving with all the strength he could summon, but to no avail.  The rock would not budge even an inch.

Finally, calming himself slightly, he turned again to face the darkness of the cave.

“I think we’re trapped,” he said, unlike earlier, actually hoping the man was still in the cave with him and hadn’t been the one that moved that stone that now confined him.  Waiting a few seconds for a non-existent reply, Aaron finally yelled out, his fear starting to get the best of him.

“C’mon, say something!  What do we do?”

But still, there came no reply.  Aaron again made his way deeper into the cave, again feeling his way along the stone walls as he went.  His steps were slower and more deliberate, yet he still managed to strike something in the path before him, causing him to tumble forward to the dirt covered ground.  Aaron struggled to get himself upright again, but in the darkness, he had lost his bearings before finally finding the rock wall once again with his flailing, panic-driven arms.  Taking another deep breath or two, Aaron suddenly remembered the lighter in his pocket, quickly fishing it out and struggling to generate the flame, striking three or four times before finally bursting to light.

For an instant, his eyes were whited out by the sudden glare from the firelight in the intense black of the cave, but soon enough, they adjusted and he was able to make out the object he had fallen over.  Looking down at the thing at his feet, Aaron’s mind completely reeled from the awful sight, and he dropped the lighter, rushing the small cave back into total darkness.

Aaron didn’t dwell on it for very long, or make out much in the way of specific details, but he had seen enough in that single instant of clarity.  A decayed skeleton of a man was lying against the wall, and the only specifics he could make out were a battered white coat and the dust-covered dark blue, almost black backpack it appeared to be wearing.

The Trail, copyright 2011, Dan Meadows and Watershed Publications.  All rights reserved.

If you enjoyed what you just read, you can click on the link below to find out more about the book it came from, my new 13-story collection, Devil’s Dozen.

And for more scares and your otherwise generally creepy reading pleasure, check out my original short story collection Bad Timing.

Click below for more fright-filled stuff.  And come back tomorrow for even more of my favorite time of year as The 13 Days of Halloween continues…

The 13 Days of Halloween

Day 1: Scary Movies to Spend a Cold, Dark Night With

Day 2: The Ghosts of St. Mary’s County

Day 3: Vincent Price–The Last of the Great Horror Icons

Day 3: A Few of My Favorite Vincent Price Films

Day 4: Some Fiction For The Season–One Step Ahead

Day 5: Horror Literature–A Truly Unappreciated Art Form

Day 6: Hauntings of the High Seas

Day 7: A Few of My Favorite Horror Books

Day 9: Edgar Allan Poe–The Greatest American Writer

Day 10: Horror Anthologies on Film and Television

Day 11: Halloween Rituals and How They Originated

Day 12: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Horror

Day 13: Psycho Killers

Day 13: My Favorite Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Happy Halloween: Even More Fiction for the Season–This Old House

Devil’s Dozen now available! My new book hits the digital streets…

Here it is!  After lots of painstaking time and effort, my second collection of short stories is now out and available for purchase.  Unlike my first book, Bad Timing, this new model will only be available in electronic formats for the time being.  So if you don’t have a Kindle or some other ebook reader, what’re you waiting for?

Here is the listing on my Watershed Publications Site

Here is the listing in the Amazon Kindle Store

Here is the listing for various other electronic formats at Smashwords

If you haven’t yet read Bad Timing, you can find a copy either in print or ebook here.

Check it out!  If you enjoyed my first effort, I’m certain you’ll like this one as well.    If you haven’t, but enjoy all things dark and strange, give them both a try.  Besides, together you can get both books, 38 dark and (sometimes) disturbing tales in total, for less than $5.  That’s a deal you won’t beat in a bookstore.  Enjoy and happy reading!

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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On The Cover

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Continuing along with preparing my new book to hit the digital shelves in the next two weeks, I put the finishing touches on the cover art.  The photo included here will be the front image of my soon to be published new collection. 

As always, feel free to tell me what you think.  Comments and criticisms are always encouraged here.  And keep watching, a release announcement complete with relevant links is coming very soon!

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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