Re-release: The Little Artisan

Re-release: The Little Artisan

Synopsis: Not all fairy tales involve young princesses waiting to be swept off their feet by a prince. Some heroines want to change the world. Camille has watched her village, and the surrounding area, slowly wilt from years of unrelenting sun and no rain. Mein was once a land filled with magic and dense forests filled with fantastical creatures. Now, it suffers in silence. Camille believes that she can change their fate by creating a machine to make it rain once more. However, the village is suspicious of her efforts, concerned that her deep love of science will anger the magicks that once protected them. She will have to learn to stand tall and believe in herself if the world is to ever change.

 

An excerpt from The Little Artisan:

She paused in front of the entrance; her heart fluttered and her stomach churned. So close. All of the trials and tinkering and prototypes would soon be put to the test.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed aside the curtain and stepped inside. It was bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. Mirrors covered all of the walls, which converged on a single hallway leading deeper into the tent.

Camille headed down the hallway. Its walls were also covered with mirrors, creating a maze of kaleidoscope images. She proceeded forward slowly, restraining her impulse to run.

A voice emerged from farther ahead.

“Maker. Artisan. Tinker. Why have you come?”

“For the final piece.”

“The final piece to what?”

“To my Rainmaker.”

Peeling laughter filled the hallway.

“You continue on this fool’s errand even though everyone doubts you,” called the Trickster.

Camille paused.

She didn’t give much thought to what others thought. Occasionally, she would consider how the townspeople might react if the Rainmaker worked; otherwise, she only felt sad when she thought about the people of Mein because they were too frightened to try anything, to take real chances.

“I can make a difference,” she responded.

“Why would you wish to make a difference when no one else will care?” boomed a voice that suggested a large being.

Camille couldn’t even comprehend such a position. She didn’t require others to validate who she was; she did what she thought was necessary. “I have no need of riddles, questions, or condemnations. I only need the final piece. I only need fuel.”

“Fuel?” parroted the Trickster.

Camille noticed a small shadow at the corner of the hallway. Creeping close, she found a small knob attached to a long, thin mirror. She pushed it and the mirror creaked and receded, revealing yet another hallway.

The hallway was unlit except for a faint light at the end. She stumbled forward, feeling the walls to stay upright. Camille turned as the door she came through closed; she could no longer hear the sounds outside the tent. She pushed on through the darkness until the hallway terminated in an open room with a tall chair at its center.  A small figure with sandy red hair and a thick beard sat atop it.

“You’re the Trickster?” asked Camille.

The Trickster hopped down, revealing that he was nearly a head shorter than the little artisan. A jagged scar ran from his nose to his chin, giving him a suspicious look despite his otherwise handsome features and green eyes. “I see that you’ve seen past my mirrors, little artisan.”

Camille didn’t like it when people other than her father called her little artisan. “Do you have fuel?”

He shoved his stubby hands into his pockets. “I do indeed. What do you plan on doing with it?”

Frustration itched at her. “I need it for the Rainmaker.”

“Ah, for your weather machine.”

She looked around the small room and saw a cot nestled next to shelves upon shelves of books. “You live here?”

“Our sleepy little village wouldn’t suffer an imp, so I hide behind my mirrors.”

She felt a stab of sympathy for the little man.

“I’m sorry that you must hide who you are.”

The Trickster shrugged. “We all hide a part of who we are. Some must be more cautious than others.”

Camille walked to the bookcase and touched the spines.

“I don’t hide who I am.”

“I suppose that is why we fear you.”

She turned around, surprised. “Fear me?”

He nodded and paced to a long desk with open books stacked on it. “Knowing oneself is a hardship. It forces us to face parts of ourselves we may not like, so we hide behind our fear. Someone who doesn’t hide like we do is certainly to be feared.”

The little artisan looked down sadly.

“That must be difficult.”

“Ignorance proves to be fantastic insulation,” replied the Trickster. Pushing aside some books, he procured a waxen cube and held it up to the light. “I believe I have what you’re looking for….”

Camille crossed the room and looked at the small cube.

“I don’t have much to give you.”

He closed his hand, obscuring the fuel cube from view.

“I ask that you don’t allow our fear to stop you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I sell hope, and possibility. I wish for the world to be different; yet, I do nothing.”

Camille found his strange self-awareness disarming.

What was he playing at?

The Trickster extended his hand and placed the fuel cube in Camille’s hands. He smirked. “I expect to hear rumbling very soon.”

 

Get it today on Kindle!

Re-release: Drained

Re-release: Drained

Synopsis: A frightening new case. A mysterious journal. The beginning of the end. Lauren Westlake has left behind the horrors of northern Minnesota to investigate a strange package with a cryptic return address. Crossing the country to the city by the bay, Lauren discovers that Locke was only the beginning. Crossing paths with a stoic SFPD detective and a surprise from her past, she must figure out what hunts the foggy streets of San Francisco in this new novella. Is it vampires? Is it something more?

 

An excerpt from Drained:

THE OVERPASS that separated the yuppie, hipster youth of the city from its poorer denizens was indistinguishable from any other place in the city.

Benny squatted under the comfort of his concrete shelter to avoid the light drizzle that replaced the evening fog. His grizzled features and unkempt salt-and-pepper hair might be charming if he weren’t several shades of crazy and hungrier than a feral cat. He remembered when he could wink and say a few smooth words and a beaming waitress might swoon––regaling her with stories about his gigs around the city and the promise of a little danger.

In the late 70s Benny fancied himself a musician, playing the tall bass with a few friends; it was tough for Benny to think of them as friends now. What passed for a friend on the streets was someone who wouldn’t steal your blankets or chase you out of a rat-infested hole with a taped-together shiv made from broken bottles and pieces of fenders from stalled-out cars.

The 70s hadn’t been kind to Benny. Cocaine went from recreation to lifestyle, and then to death-style. As his other bandmates started lives, Benny spiraled deeper into despair.

His friends lost his number.

It wasn’t long before he didn’t have the money for electricity, and then he lived his life in darkness. From there, it was a short hop to not being able to pay rent; soon thereafter, the streets became his home. After enough time wandering the cold pavement, he became too volatile to bunk in the homeless shelters.

He was a creature of the streets.

Benny made a strange sort of existence for himself under the overpass. Newspapers were arranged like a well-manicured lawn. Boxes, crushed and water-damaged, were the wings of his great destitute estate. The barrel at the center of it all, burning brightly like a lighthouse upon rocky shores, was full of the wisdom of Western society: newspapers, magazines, and various novels.

Grumbling angrily and unintelligibly to himself, Benny dug through one of his grocery carts filled to the brim with postmodern junk; he was looking for a broken umbrella amidst the sea of garbage and treasure within his cart. As Benny extricated the battered object of his desire, he was startled by a voice. “I do enjoy these brief moments of gentle rain. Do you find them as soothing as I do?”

Turning, Benny was immediately irritated by the man’s presence. Dressed to the nines––with angular, symmetrical features––there was something unreal about his figure.

“I don’t want no trouble.”

The man smiled. “Nor do I. But I wonder, Benny, what is it that you’re looking for?”

Benny looked at the streets and saw cars zip past between the concrete dividers that obscured his shelter from view. It was the main reason why he stayed there: it was his island, his cabin in the woods.

“Mister, I’m hungry. Do you have any food?”

The man smiled again, disarmingly. “I must admit I’m a bit peckish myself. Though I have no food, at least nothing that you’d find satisfying, Benny.”

Benny was struck by the disconnected nature of their conversation, as if the man weren’t talking to him at all and instead reading from a script. This feeling became more surreal as the man stepped past him into the darkness of the overpass. His features were adulterated by the shadows there: his dark hair made darker, his gray eyes disappearing.

There, in the darkness, Benny heard something move.

“Watch out, mister, there are rats back there. I catch them sometimes and cook them up.”

The man chuckled but didn’t respond, turning his back to Benny. When he spoke again, his voice had changed; it seemed bloated and distant. “They never look for the wretches, Benny. Give me your poor. Give me your hungry. Those are just words. I’m hungry as well….”

The sound came again.

There was no mistaking it for a rat this time.

It was bigger.

Hollow, deliberate steps haunted the shadows.

A tremor crept across Benny, rising from his toes like acid reflux after he ate from the dumpster behind the Korean restaurant a few blocks away. “I don’t want no trouble,” repeated Benny, his voice quaking as he took a few steps back.

“You won’t have to worry about trouble any longer. I will take your fear. Feed on your fear….”

Benny thought to run.

Panic gripped him, but his muscles wouldn’t respond. He wondered if the lady doctor at the center was right: Was he crazy? Was he chasing shadows in the dark?

Looking at his bin of junk, he saw the broken pipe he’d taken from a rundown building in the Tenderloin. He thought it was copper, but it turned out to be rusted and useless like him. Gripping it like he was Babe Ruth waiting at the plate, he watched the darkness. The well-dressed man had disappeared, but his voice drifted on the air like a spirit.

“Why fight it, Benny? Is this really worth living for, this sad little life?”

Benny’s fear turned to anger.

Gesturing with the pipe, he shouted into the dark.

“How do you know my name?”

The laugh sent shivers down his spine.

Something in the darkness tripped and fell, collapsing the third and fourth cardboard bedrooms of his sprawling street estate. A figure emerged in the darkness: something frightening beyond words.

“We know all about you, Benny.”

As it took shape in the half-light of the passing cars, Benny held his breath and swung the pipe as hard as he could, lurching forward as it connected with thin air. With a gnashing maw, it blotted Benny from view and pulled him back into the darkness.

 

If you loved Bitten (or supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story), then you’ll want to give Drained a look. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!

Re-release: Bitten

Re-release: Bitten

Synopsis: A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could imagine.

 

What readers are saying about Bitten:

“Bitten is an extremely well-balanced and engaging novel. It contains mystery, suspense, horror, romance, and best of all – a creative, genre-bending twist on werewolf mythology. The story is quick-paced and dark without being too heavy or overdramatic. The protagonist is a strong and courageous FBI agent who is able to assert herself without casting aside her femininity. She reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum…. If a sequel follows, I will definitely read it.”

“Author Dan O’Brien left his mark with Bitten. I’ve now read three books by O’Brien, but BITTEN is by far my favorite. It not only showcases his literary skills, but leaves the reader wanting more. What else could an avid reader ask for?”

 

An excerpt from Bitten:

THE CREATURE crashed into the sides of its space. Tearing broken, rusted objects from the shelves, it threw them to the ground in angry fits of rage. Tears streamed down its face and the guttural whimper that echoed in the oversized shed was the only shred of humanity that remained.

With each mashed piece of its life, it plunged deeper into madness; closer to the monster it was slowly becoming. The light of the day had all but faded. Reaching out and grasping a light bulb that hung dimly at the center of the shed, it crushed it, allowing the shards to rip apart its hands.

Blood dripped on the work table and the partial husk of Wayne Joyce’s mutilated face. It had stretched out the flesh, drying it and coating it with deer oil. Its cries were crocodile tears; there was no emotion left except rage, hatred. Remorse and guilt long since disappearing into the abyss that was its mind.

The winds howled.

It responded.

Black thread, spooled with a sharp needle, sat beside the human mask. It reached down with one of its mangled hands, lifting the needle and then the flesh. Pressing against its skin, it drove the needle into its own face, drawing blood and an angry snarl. Each time through, there was a growl and a pool of blood. The task was complete: the flesh attached to the monster.

Little folds lifted from its face. The wind whipped against them, drawing its attention. Reaching out to a staple gun, it pressed it against its face. The creature drove thick steel staples into its face, flattening out the macabre mask.

The table was a massacre.

Leftover pieces of the trophies it took were lifeless artifacts of its ascension to death-bringer. Reaching out for the long claw of torture it wore as a glove, the creature groaned. Language was lost. More and more, it felt like an animal, a creature meant to destroy everything.

The rage built like steam. It coursed through its veins, polluting every aspect of humanity that remained. The moon would rise soon––full and omniscient. That would be the moment of its ascension.

It would be its masterpiece.

 

If you love supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story, then you’ll want to give Bitten a look. Releasing in July as well is the follow-up novella, Drained. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!