Once Upun a Time: The Cover!

Once Upun a Time will be available on December 1, 2015. (This holiday season, give the gift of laughter!!)

Once Upun a Time
Puns and Other Nonsense

Do you like gripping tales of action and adventure? Are you fond of spooky science fiction? Does high fantasy float your boat, while low fantasy tickles your yacht? Well, good news – none of that is what you’ll find here!

This book includes:
An exclusive story set in The Dragon’s Toenail universe!
Zeus’ birthday party!
Appliances doing their duties!
The 1980s of the future!
Exclamation points!!!
And more!

Sit back, relax, and ready your eyes for rolling; this book has a little pun for everyone.

And now, the cover…


The cover was created by the supremely talented Ethaniel Ritchot. Why is it a fish, you ask? Why not read it and find out?

Seventh Hope

An updated version of this story will appear in I Find You Mildly Irritating, and Other Stories, due out in 2019!

This was an Honourable Mention at Micro Bookends.


Seventh Hope

Six planets out of seven were useless. The fourth was closest, but upon landing, the natives had sent them packing. Jessie wasn’t about to argue with man-sized cockroaches (at least not now that the government insisted on peaceful contact).

The seventh planet had promise. The long line of scientists at the control panel buzzed with excitement while they processed the data. The planet had water, breathable atmosphere, etc. etc.

Jessie took a seat beside Betty and scanned the monitor everyone ignored.

“This is the one,” Betty said. “Our last hope is a success.”

“I don’t think so, Betty.”

“Why not?”

“Because the temperature of the water is a million degrees.”



This was Special Challenge Champion at Finish That Thought.



“Stumbling out of the back alley, she noticed blearily that she was missing her hat. There was only emptiness and a cool breeze where it should be. She reached up to touch her naked head, and realized…her head was gone.

“She couldn’t be moving around if her head was gone,” Anne said. She hadn’t looked up from her newspaper once during the story and Belle was sick of her attitude.

“She’s supernatural now, don’t you get it? The rest of the story has her wandering the Earth as a zombie, trying to replace her brain, but she can’t eat brains because she has no teeth. It’s a tragedy.”

“It certainly is,” Anne said.

“I know you’re implying something, but I’m going to ignore it.”

“What are you reading, anyway?” Anne’s eyes finally stopped scanning the sports, or weather, or whatever.

Belle handed her the magazine.

“Fish Tank weekly?”

“The title of the magazine implies that we’re all stuck in a prison like a fish tank, until we can break free and travel amongst the stars. It’s mostly sci-fi,” Belle said.

“Why does a sci-fi magazine have a zombie story in it?”

“In the dramatic conclusion, she gets turned into a toad by a star witch, and shot into outer space in a cannon.”

Anne shook her head in a disapproving fashion.

“It’s literature,” Belle insisted.


“They paid me fifty bucks!”


Belle gave up. Years ago they’d played astronauts together, but Anne had apparently grown out of her imagination. She might always be too down-to-Earth for Belle’s continuing adventures. Belle snatched the magazine from Anne’s hands and turned her back.

“Hey,” Anne said. “I liked the part about the radioactive onions.”


“Yeah. You’ve got some real talent.”

Maybe they’d never play astronauts again, but they would always be sisters.


Call of Nature

This won an Honourable Mention for humour over at Flash! Friday.


Call of Nature

Your application has been processed and you have been invited for an interview.

The man at reception, immaculate in his purple spandex, told Randall to wait. An hour ticked by.

Randall didn’t have the skillset for anything technical and he wasn’t prepared to work in faster-than-lightspeed-food. He had to impress the RingMaster. His nerves were shot so he went to the cafeteria for a cup of tea.

Two hours and a few trips later he was summoned.  Reception had informed him there were no public facilities and he hoped for a short interview. He’d do a quick tumbling routine and she’d have to love him.

The RingMaster was glorious in her spandex tuxedo and in her presence, Randall started to relax.

“We’ll begin with some preliminary questions,” she said.

Randall crossed his legs.

Another hour later he’d answered everything from his favourite breakfast cereal to his preferred colour of underspandex. Inside he felt the roaring force of Niagara Falls desperate to be released.

“If you’ll follow me, I’d like to see what you’ve got.”

This was it. Randall begged the Falls to wait a little longer.

“I almost forgot – you need the obligatory slap to the stomach,” the RingMaster said.

After that, Nature won. (Naturally.)

Randall didn’t get the job.


The Dragon’s Toenail – Art Teaser

As I’ve mentioned previously, Ellustration has done several illustrations for The Dragon’s Toenail. Here are a couple of previews of the magic:


A small hand?


A mug? An octopus? Who knows?


Is that…a spoon?


Something is watching you.

One more, just for fun:


What the…is that an apple core?

I hope you are now intrigued.

The Dragon’s Toenail is due out by August 30. I will make another announcement when it’s available.

The Three shall conquer all!

Remember, the eight free chapters of The Dragon’s Toenail available on this blog will be gone on August 21, 2015 (Friday!). Editing has changed some of the minor details. Read ’em while they’re there!


An updated version of this will appear in I Find You Mildly Irritating, and Other Stories, due out in 2019!

A more serious Flash! Friday effort.



It started with Margaret dying.

I’ll always remember her with her arms around Edmond’s neck, and that look of love on her face. Edmond was the Prime Minister elected when we touched down on New Earth. She was young, only thirty when it happened.

I was staying late at the lab, dissecting another dead patient, trying desperately to cure this plague. It’s a wonder I never caught it myself. Edmond radioed in, screaming Margaret’s name. I hurried to his place but didn’t get there before the police. They’d taped everything off. Margaret had been murdered. Someone had got it into their head that Edmond was to blame for the new world’s troubles and they’d punished him for it.

Panic spreads. Edmond’s wife was the first but not the last. They caught the woman who killed Margaret and they punished her, but she became a martyr. Some fought for Edmond, some fought for his opposition, and thousands of others died from the plague.

That was how the world got divided.

We eventually found a cure for the plague, but nothing can fix the human condition. It’s been a hundred years and I might live a hundred more and never see the end of the war.

Fly On The Wall

From Flash!Friday.


Fly On The Wall

At one time I didn’t care about the affairs of humans. I was content with my limited existence; eat, sleep, fly. Like other flies I was unaware of my mortality, aside from a survival instinct.

Life was simple and I had no master.

Now I must do the Wizard’s bidding. I am his eyes and ears on the walls of his choosing.

The Wizard extracts the conversations from the memory I should not have. I recognize that I don’t have a large enough brain for memory. How do I know that? The Wizard has made me so much more than what I should be.

He pats the top of my head as I crawl across his fingers. No one looks twice at the homeless man talking to himself. He, too, is next to invisible in his disguise, but I can go where he cannot.

“Good boy,” he says, as though I am a loyal dog.

Loyalty. A concept I should not understand, and do not feel. If I could break away from him I would. If I could go back to the not-knowing, I would.

I am the fly on the wall. The world does not know enough to fear me.

Jenny’s Side

A Flash! Friday effort.


Jenny’s Side

“Whose side are you on?”


Her name was Jennifer. I fell in love with her dimpled smile. The first time she kissed me it felt natural.

Jenny. Brown hair, brown eyes, cut-off jeans, flip-flops, colourful tank tops and oversized button-ups. Sure, she had the antennae, but everyone’s got their flaws. I didn’t judge.


I assumed her parents were loaded because they lived in that gigantic house. I used to stop and look at it through the fence and wonder what kind of movie star would be able to afford it. It was prettier than the White House.

I was right.


One day she said “Marianne, we need to talk,” and I thought she was breaking up with me. Instead, she patted my knee, flicked one of her antennae, and said “I’m an alien.”

Her parents were alien space-drug smugglers. They lived on Earth for the fertile soil.


She looked sad when she told me. I couldn’t see why.

“It’s not your fault your parents are drug dealers. Why would I love you any less?”

It turned out she was more worried about the alien thing but I didn’t care about that either.


We were happily married until the invasion.

Now guess which side I’m on.


This is another Warm-Up Wednesday effort at Flash! Friday. I made it an exercise in dialogue. It head to end with the word “peace” and the prompt was a picture of a bridge.



“Yeah, bridge. You had this coming. Every time you were backed up when I was late, every time you were closed for construction, you were mocking me. Now, I have the power.”

“Tim? What are you doing?”

“Shut up, Sarah.”

“You’re sleepwalking again.”

“I’m fine. I’m awake. I’m ready to go.”

“You’re in your underpants pointing a paintball gun at a model of the city. Let’s get you back to bed before you hurt yourself.”

“I have to kill the bridge first. This is war.”

“I’m declaring a truce. Come back to bed so the bridge can rest in peace.”


Gladiators Do Not

A Flash!Friday contribution. It had to feature a gladiator as the protagonist and the prompt was an adorable kitten. How could I resist?


Gladiators Do Not

A lot of rumours go around about gladiators, and the thing is, most of them aren’t true. Yes, we’re ruthless killers, but it’s not like we murder people in our spare time. There are rules. Thumbs-down means you gotta kill the guy, or they’re gonna kill you. Better him/her/it than me, that’s what I say, especially when the opponent’s a big old bear. I hate bears.

I’m gonna address some of those rumours and you write it on your little notepad there and put it in your paper, okay? This tradition’s been back a hundred years or so and people ought to know us by now.

Gladiators have a code. We have to maintain a certain amount of “physical wellness”, but that’s up to your own…I mean, trainer. There’s no slavery in spite of what I almost just said, got it? No masters, no slaves, just good old killing fun. The trainers never starve anybody…unless they deserve it, haha!

Oh, and the last thing – we don’t hurt kittens. We don’t sacrifice adorable baby animals to the gods or eat their hearts or whatever. I mean, if the gods required an animal, I’d sacrifice a bear, but not a little kitty. Okay?

Thanks for the interview. Enjoy the show.