A Short, Short Story

I wrote this story with the intent of entering it in The Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story Contest. The stories could be no longer than 1500 words. I wrote a few others and decided not to enter this one. So here it is for your reading pleasure… I hope.

The Lamplight Stranger

Every evening he was there. Standing in the lamplight and staring up at her kitchen window. And every night he departed in the same way, entering a yellow cab that drove him off into the darkness. The first time she saw him standing there leering up at her apartment Margaret was terrified. It was enough to make her want to pack her bags and head back to the small Midwestern town she had been raised in. But there was nothing and no one to go back to; not since Albert had died. She was completely and utterly alone. So she did what any woman in her position would do and called the police.

She kept a close eye on the stranger until she heard the wailing of an approaching siren. The man never flinched or turned away, but kept his vigil until a cab arrived and took him away. The officers were less than sympathetic when they learned they’d been called out to investigate a man waiting for his ride home. Margaret was mortified. As the chuckling officers exited her home she vowed never to call them again. Though she resented their nonchalant attitudes she also hoped they were right about the stranger.

But night after night he was there, never varying from his routine. In time Margaret was not only not afraid of him any longer, but now looked forward to his presence. When his time came she would go to her kitchen window and push back the lace curtains and there he would be… watching. Once she had even thought to invite him in for coffee. She waved her small bony hand in his direction and though his eyes never shifted from their fixed gaze he gave no impression that he had even seen her.

Time passed and Margaret continued to subsist in her little apartment. Like a lonely ghost she was but a faded effigy of the woman she once was. She clung to the nightly visits of her lamplight friend, until one night when she pushed back the yellowing lace from her window pane and he wasn’t there. Margaret strained her stiff arthritic neck this way and that searching the street, but he was nowhere to be seen. Finally, surrendering to the truth of the empty street, she went to her favorite chair and slumped down into the seat feeling the heavy, black blanket of loneliness threating to smother the life from her.

As she closed her eyes, giving in to the dark demon, her doorbell rang. Startled from her depression she jumped from her seat in the hope that her stranger would be there.  Opening the door she was both shocked and disappointed as her old eyes fell on the person of a postman.

“Mrs. Margaret Wilson?” he asked

“Yes,” she answered.

“This is for you.” He presented her with an envelope. She reached out her shaking hand and snatched it away. Before she could ask him why he was out so late or where the letter had come from he was gone having disappeared into the encroaching fog.

Margaret closed and locked the door.  She held the envelope at arm’s length analyzing it. Nothing marred it’s whiteness but the black ink of her name. No return address, not even a stamp. With trembling fingers she pulled open the flap and removed the letter inside.

Enter the cab when it comes for you.

That was all. No salutation. No signature. Nothing but a command to enter a strange cab. Whoever wrote this must be out of their minds to think that she would do such a dangerous thing. What if this person wanted to kidnap her or worse kill her? But then again did it really matter she thought as she remembered the suffocating loneliness that threatened to swallow her alive. No, it didn’t matter, at least it was something. She would enter the taxi when it came for her.

Minutes later the yellow cab pulled to a stop in front of Margaret’s apartment. Giving her little home one last look she walked out into the night, not even bothering to lock the door behind her. In the cold air she felt more alive than she had in years and she boldly took her seat in the back of the strange cab. The driver slowly pulled away from the curb but did not turn to look at his passenger. Margaret’s courage began to wane after several minutes with her silent companion. In a timid voice she asked “Where are you taking me?”

“It’s time to go home, Margaret.” Her driver turned to look into her eyes and in that moment she recognized her lamplight stranger as her dear husband Albert. The cab was suddenly lit from within by an unearthly glow. She watched with wonder as the years fell from her like leaves falling from a tree. Albert took her hand, young and firm as it was when they first married. No longer in the back seat of a dingy cab the two stood  together in a blaze of light that drove out all fear, all loneliness, all depression.

“We’re home,” he said.


Interview with Tony and Nancy Martineau

Post Grid Tony and Nancy

The authors of Post Grid, Tony and Nancy Martineau, met while in college, working on an ambulance in the Phoenix Metro area. They have been married almost 30 years.

Tony is a former Deputy U.S. Marshal and Flight Paramedic who continues to work in law enforcement and as a wildfire line medic.

Nancy is a nurse specializing in emergency and pre-hospital medicine.

The couple has been active in search and rescue with the Civil Air Patrol and Maricopa Medical Rescue Posse in the desert areas that they describe in their book. Both are long-time amateur radio operators.

They have two non-fiction books to their credit: Camp Health and First Aid In My Pocket, available on Amazon, and Labor and Delivery In My Pocket, editions one through three, currently out of print.


1. Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?

We were both members of the American Red Cross Disaster Services in Southern California when Tony was there as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. We lived through several earthquakes and realized no one was coming to help for many days. 

Tony assisted in relief efforts during the floods in Arizona as a teenager and saw how the most self-sufficient people fared better.

Of late, we have all been witness to increased terrorist attacks around the world.  Any massive power-grid failure, such as cyber terrorism, internet failure or coronal mass ejection, could immediately put people into a survival situation that would resemble this book.

Without the internet or electricity you cannot pump gas, use an ATM, check-out at most stores or communicate by phone. Many of our friends and neighbors have less than a week’s worth of non-perishable food in their houses. If their freezers and microwaves go out, they are almost immediately hungry. Water is life and death here in the Arizona desert. Many have just a few water bottles stored in the pantry. At a need of one gallon of water per person, per day, they are in immediate danger of dehydration if the water goes off, even temporarily.

2. Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors?

Michael Hopf (The New World Series), Ray Gorham (77 days in September), William R. Forstchen (One Second After)  — These guys were trying to imagine a world Post Grid just like we are. It’s fun to see the same event through different people’s eyes, you know, different parts of the country, different scenarios.

3. Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so explain.

 We hope not, but it’s a persistent possibility. There are so many vulnerabilities in our power delivery system and integrated into that is our communication infrastructure. Threats to the grid include solar activity, cyber terrorism, simple mechanical failure, EMP and new EMP weapons just starting to make their debut on the world scene.

4. Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?

No particular events, although we have seen regional power failures over our lifetimes. Recent memory included the Toronto outage, Katrina, Sandy, and locally monsoon damage. We had a mega-transformer go out here in Phoenix a few years back that took months and months to replace. We watched the 3 mile per hour journey on a flatbed it made through the California/Arizona desert to get here. It’s all sobering.

5. When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?

It’s all about the story. Rather than focus on doom and gloom, our goal was to inspire people to be more prepared and to make connections that can help them in any catastrophe. It can be as simple as having a premature baby to complete societal collapse. Good people in your circle always help. There is a tendency to think preparing is only about waiting for the “big one,” but it really is about coping better with the many little disasters people face.

6. What was the inspiration for your book?

We have spent years in emergency services watching others be unprepared and get into dangerous predicaments.

7. What other genres do you read?

Nancy reads romance, western biographies and Arizona history. Tony enjoys many genres: history, fantasy, biography, sci-fi and how-to books.  We both read medical and survival texts.

8. Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?

Steampunk, it just sounds so limitless and adventuresome. We envision Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes.

9. Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?  

Nancy’s favorites are Kelly and Emma. Tony doesn’t have a favorite but likes all of the characters. We wanted to show teens as active participants alongside the adults.

10. Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?

There are so many. Books stretch your imagination in ways movies cannot. It makes your brain summon images and settings. These worlds are to your own liking.


#1 Amazon best seller in western science fiction 11/22/14!
8 reviews. All five-stars.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Post-Grid-Arizona-EMP-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00PGLQYJY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416804332&sr=8-1&keywords=post+grid




My Interview With Fellow Author: Kate L. Mary


Kate L. Mary

 1. Why did you decide to write a Dystopian novel?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I wrote a lot when I was a teen, but college and marriage and kids all happened and somewhere along the way I got sidetracked. I read The Hunger Games in 2011, which led me to revisit the old classic, 1984. Then inspiration struck. The first book I wrote was a YA dystopian and it’s still saved on my computer (along with the sequel). It’s not ready to be published and I’m not sure if it ever will be, but I love it because it proved I could create a whole new world, which is my favorite thing to do!

2. Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors?

I will always love 1984. It was required reading in high school and definitely my first look into a dystopian world, and I was awed by it. After that I read Brave New World, but at the time I couldn’t find any other books to read in the genre. Of course, this was back when the internet was mostly used for online chatrooms, so it wasn’t like I could just Google it or anything. (I’m showing my age, I know!)

Of the recent dystopian novels I’ve read, I of course have to say The Hunger Games. It’s a fantastic story that’s well-told, and the world created in it feels so real. Plus, I buy it! I totally believe something like that could happen because people are inherently bad. I also love the Shatter Me series. There’s nothing like a dystopian future with a hint of the X-men to get the nerd in me excited!

3. Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so explain.

Well, my book is a zombie tale, so no. I love zombies, but it’s an impossible scenario. I don’t think there could ever be a virus that would kill a person but cause their body to reanimate and become a flesh-eating monster. But the survival aspect of it intrigues me, which is why I love zombie stories so much. It brings people together who would never meet otherwise and forces them to either get along or die. It shows what a person is made of.

4. Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?

 I’ve always loved zombies, and with the recent popularity of The Walking Dead it seemed like the right time to get a zombie story out there. When I started writing Broken World I didn’t plan on making it a zombie book, because all I’d heard from agents and editors was how there is no market for zombie books. But after writing one chapter I changed my mind because a zombie story was what I wanted to write, and I’m so glad I did! I love the series and I’m thrilled by the fantastic feedback I’ve gotten from it. You always hope the people are going to respond well to your book, but I still never expected it to do as well as it has. Broken World has been in the top 100 in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction for over three months now, and book two, Shattered World, is right up there with it!

5. When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?

I have no problem with authors who want to use their books as a platform, but that’s not me. Writing is something I love and my stories are just that: stories. I had a reviewer take offence at the way I portray rednecks, insinuating that it somehow reflected how I felt about people from Kentucky (which is where my characters are from). To me that is just silly. I created a character and that’s how she saw the world, not me. My character and I have very little in common.

 6. What was the inspiration for your book?

I was very inspired by TWD, as a lot of reviewers have pointed out. But my story is very different than a lot of zombie books out there. It starts when the virus first rears its ugly head and follows the characters on a journey as the world falls down around them. The zombies don’t even show up until halfway through the book. The first half was definitely inspired by The Stand, which is a great post-apocalyptic book and one of my favorites, and the second half is more TWD.

7. What other genres do you read?

I will read anything that keeps my interest, but I do lean more toward post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories. I tend to get bored when reading contemporary, especially a romance, unless there’s something very special about the story to hold my attention. Books where the only plot is whether or not the characters are going to get together lose my interest very fast.

8. Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?

I’ll write anything that grabs my attention. My first book, Collision, is a New Adult romantic mystery. It’s a bit twisted, but has a sweet love story as well. The List, my New Adult contemporary Romance comes out next May from Lyrical Press, and there will be two follow-up books with that. I like the story and had a good time writing it, but I’ll admit that it isn’t as enjoyable as writing my zombie or post-apocalyptic books.

9. Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?

I love all my characters, but I’ll admit that my favorite is Axl. He’s inspired by Daryl Dixon from TWD, and writing him was so much fun. I love a complex character who has a lot of potential for growth, which is exactly what Daryl is, and why I wrote Axl. His brother Angus is such a fun character to shape too. There’s nothing like that character you just love to hate!

10. Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?

There are a lot of books I love, but I can’t say there’s one that really made a difference. I’ve bounced around a lot over the years when it came to what I read. In high school it was mostly classics, then historical fiction. Of course, that was back when YA didn’t have much to offer. I went through a period where I read a lot of crime/mystery books, then gravitated back to YA when it started to grow and expand. Now that I’ve taken the step and written things of my own, I’d say those are the books that have really affected me.



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Author Bio:

Kate L. Mary is a stay-at-home mother of four and an Air Force wife. She grew up in a small town just north of Dayton, Ohio where she and her husband met at the age of twelve. Since their marriage in 2002, they have lived in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and California.

Kate enjoys any post-apocalyptic story – especially if zombies are involved – as long as there is a romantic twist to give the story hope. Kate prefers nerdy, non-traditional heroes who can make you laugh to hunky pieces of man-meat, and her love of wine and chocolate is legendary among her friends and family. She currently resides in Oklahoma with her husband and children.

Be sure to check out her bestselling BROKEN WORLD series, which is a top 100 book in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction on Amazon.


Broken World blurb:

When a deadly virus sweeps the country, Vivian Thomas sets out for California in hopes of seeing the daughter she gave up for adoption. Then her car breaks down and she’s faced with a choice. Give up, or accept a ride from redneck brothers, Angus and Axl. Vivian knows the offer has more to do with her double D’s than kindness, but she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to reach her daughter.

The virus is spreading, and by the time the group makes it to California, most of the population has been wiped out. When the dead start coming back, Vivian and the others realize that no electricity or running water are the least of their concerns. Now Vivian has to figure out how to be a mother under the most frightening circumstances, cope with Angus’s aggressive mood swings, and sort out her growing attraction to his brooding younger brother, Axl.

While searching for a safe place to go, they pick up a pompous billionaire who may be the answer to all their problems. Trusting him means going into the middle of the Mojave Desert and possibly risking their lives, but with the streets overrun and nowhere else to turn, it seems he might be their only chance for survival.




My Interview With Author: Ben S. Reeder


Ben S. Reeder

Ben Reeder’s parents claim they found him in a pineapple patch in Hawai’i and brought him home, which was their way of telling him that he was adopted. He grew up in South Texas reading Tolkien, Asimov, and Robert E. Howard. Ben has always loved telling stories, and in high school, he wrote pulp style action adventures for his friends. Ben has been filling notebooks and hard drives with stories and ideas ever since.

1. Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?

I wrote dystopian as a sort of illogical extension of what I thought the world would be like if some people got their way. I keep seeing all of these elements of what certain fringe groups are demanding, and I started to ask myself what the world they want would be like.

2. Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors?

My first taste of dystopia was Orwell’s 1984, so it has a special little dark place in my heart, but I’m also fond of Emma Bull’s Bone Dance. While it’s a post-apocalyptic piece, it also creates a world where the powerful gain so much by the suffering of others.

3.. Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality?

If so explain. In my upcoming book Dämonjäger, I can see much more of it becoming a political reality if the extreme elements of the so-called Christian right were to get their way. Bearing in mind that these aren’t what I’d consider true adherents to that faith, but rather opportunists who have found that certain extreme measures can be justified with the right leverage along with the right passages from the Bible.

4.. Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?

The primaries for the 2012 election were a huge influence on Dämonjäger, mostly because of the demands from the extreme edges on both sides. The world these people want is a utopia only for a few, and Hell on Earth for anyone else.

5. When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?

A good story, in my opinion, always teaches us something, or inspires us while entertaining us at the same time. Truly great stories never leave us the same as we were when we started them.

6. What was the inspiration for your book?

Dämonjäger started life as my first and only attempt at fan fiction for a game.  I wanted to explore the conscience of an assassin seeking redemption. Instead, I found that I liked the idea of a wolf in the fold,  a woman who was a total badass walking around among “normal” people.

7. What other genres do you read?

Fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk are among my favorites.

8. Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?

I’ve written in YA and post-apocalyptic (zombie).

9. Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?  

I’m particularly fond of Lukas, of one of the supporting characters in my YA urban fantasy stories. He’s a geek, like me, and in the midst of all this power around him, he’s perhaps the bravest of all of the characters, even more so than my main character. Where the main character is a badass with dark magick, Lukas is an otherwise normal guy who faces down the same monsters with little more than his wits and a smart mouth.

10. Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?

Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat is the one book that has had the biggest impact on me as a writer. From the first chapter, I felt like I was hearing my own voice, my own style. That was the book that made me realize that there was an audience for my voice. I finished my first novel about two years later.

Zompoc Survivor - kindle front cover

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NQP0JQQ/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

My Interview With Kelsey D. Garmendia


Kelsey Garmendia, 24, is an alumnus of the State University of New York at New Paltz. She obtained a Bachelors Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Garmendia is featured in Midnight Screaming, Poydras Review, My Unfinished Novel, The Stonesthrow Review, Penduline Press and Embodied Effigies. She also has three self-published novels: Burn Our Houses Down and If I Lose are part of a book series with the next installment to be published early in 2015 and her newest, Disenchanted is a standalone.
She resides in Southern Illinois with her husband, two dogs and two cats.

Here’s my interview with fellow author Kelsey Garmendia.

  1. Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?
I never really consciously sat down and said, “I’m gonna write a dystopian novel” actually. Burn Our Houses Down (BOHD) was inspired by one question: what would happen if all the food went missing tomorrow? The world of BOHD then turned into a mad dash of survival very quickly for my two main characters
2. Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors
My all-time favorite dystopian work is 1984 by George Orwell. Even though the book was written years ago, I still get chills when I read it. I don’t particularly have a favorite dystopian author, however I do enjoy Rick Yancy and Emily Goodwin.
3. Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so expla
I absolutely do. BOHD revolves around a highly organized food removal that leaves all areas of the United States with only wild game to hunt and whatever the land has to offer. If the food should ever go missing, I think my story is exactly what would happen.
4. Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?
Not specifically. I vaguely recalled an incident where a ship wrecked and the crew ended up eating each other to survive.
5. When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?
I usually start my novels by just telling a story. I don’t intend to have larger messages, but sometimes one comes out of nowhere and I’m like, “Oh hey! That was awesome.” Haha
6. What was the inspiration for your book?
BOHD was inspired by “Let The Flames Begin” by Paramore. The chorus is my favorite part of the song and is what was on repeat while I was writing:
  • “This is how we’ll dance when
    When they try to take us down
    This is how we’ll sing oh
    This is how we’ll stand when
    When they burn our houses down
    This is what we’ll be, oh glory”

7. What other genres do you read?

I read a little bit of everything. I’m super heavy into supernatural type books as well as DC comics. I’m an enormous Batman fan.
8. Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?
I currently just finished my third novel which is a stand alone and separate from the Burn Our Houses Down Series. It is titled Disenchanted and falls into the supernatural realism genre.
9. Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?
Ooo this is a tough one. I love and care about all my characters, but I think my favorite right now is Doctor Stevenson from Disenchanted. He’s sort of a modern Doctor Frankenstein but much more evil and sadistic.
10. Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?
One of my favorite novels is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It was about a girl who recorded the 13 reasons why she killed herself. It really made me rethink my own life and how much of an impact I could have on certain people. It’s what relit my fire to write about my own life and my own experiences. You never know how much you can help someone by doing so.
Author Page:
Burn Our Houses Down Series Facebook:
Twitter and Instagram Handles:
Buy Links:
Look for soon-to-be-released books:
Painted Red (Book Three): Release date TBA
Disenchanted: Release date 10/31/14
Thanks Kelsey!

My Interview with Drew Avera

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing fellow Dystopian author, Drew Avera.

 Drew Avera
Drew is an active duty Navy veteran and self-published author. He writes science fiction, urban fantasy, and thrillers.
1. Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?
I didn’t know what dystopian was at first. I just wrote it and lucked out. I’m kind of an idiot savant I guess…
2. Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors?
Hugh Howey is the man!
3. Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so explain.
Yes, I think America will succumb to another civil war. People like to play politics too much and everyone is looking for the villain. 
4. Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?
Not really, I loved comic books and I’m a fairly creative person. It seemed like the logical thing to do. 
5. When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?
Every book I write is about something I’m trying to come to terms with. Usually it deals with faith, or a lack thereof. I also am motivated by fear. There’s always a sprinkling of hope in there somewhere though…maybe. 
6. What was the inspiration for your book?
2103 was inspired by the large amount of political posts and rants I saw on facebook. I think politics will divide any country, it’s just a matter of how much. 
7. What other genres do you read?
I like science fiction and thrillers primarily, but I’ll read the ingredients to butter if I’m bored. 
8. Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?
I have some urban fantasy books out there, but dystopian science fiction is my favorite. 
9. Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters? 
Serus Blackwell from The Dead Planet Series. He was my first character in the first book I finished. 
10. Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you? 
The Incredible Hulk: What Savage Beast by Peter David. It made me want to write. 

Find more information about Drew and his books here…

Check out my books at www.amazon.com/author/drewavera
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Drew’s latest book.

Where will people find hope when America falls? A story about every red-blooded American’s greatest fear. Find out what happens in this first installment of The Fall of America Series. Act II is coming soon!

The Village Green

Kelsey Cooper lives in the Village Green where her life is tightly controlled by the rules of her community and the fear of Public Shaming.

The necessities of daily life are scarce and the people are getting angry. And although hunger and want are no strangers to Kelsey, she begins to wonder if it has
always been this way.

When Kelsey and her friend Derek leave the boundaries of their village Kelsey finds an ancient journal and the knowledge and events that follow will answer her questions and much more.

The Village Green is a YA Dystopian novel. Available now!



Buy Links:

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/483049

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Village-Green-M-Foxworthy-ebook/dp/B00O92QV8U

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-village-green-m-a-foxworthy/1120483015?ean=2940150575226