Short Story – Crew of the Scrapper Queen

This is a bit of flash fiction that I wrote for a dual purpose.  One, I wanted to make a small point, and two, I wanted to write something that was pure hard sci fi.   The story may be short but I believe I succeeded.


The crew of the metal reclamation vessel “Scrapper Queen” never knew where the little probe came from. It was late on third watch when they found it, floating in a lonely outer orbit. Perhaps it had come from a world from this star system, though that was unlikely, all the inner worlds were cinders. They’d actually come to look through the various asteroids for useful metal that had been left behind by earlier mining expeditions. Times were lean, and they were becoming creative in the places they looked for raw materials. There wasn’t much to be found in systems like this, but the Captain appreciated the lack of interference from the powerful Corporate Worlds.

They’d been scanning for traces of anything ferrous when Sensors caught the ping. A return, loud and clear. Ferrous metal, at least a few hundred grams of it, maybe more. The Captain ordered maneuvers sufficient to close the distance. The telescopes scanned, and after a time the Visual Scanning Officer reported a metallic object. Excited, the Captain ordered the tractor/pressor beams deployed, so that the object could be pulled in.

Damp from brief showers and still rubbing sleep from their eyes, Retrieval Team 1 stood on the observation deck above the bay. They watched as the odd, somewhat crumpled metal object was brought aboard. Long ago it had solar panels, they could see that, but micrometeorites over who knew how many centuries had taken their toll. They waited impatiently as the doors closed, the bay was re-pressurized. Zola started taking bets on the total mass of the object until her leader quieted him. Not that Tamar really minded, but she liked to run a tight shift, and Zola’s chatter could get old after a while…

End of the story can be read in “Tales.”

Don’t forget, two of my books are free through January 18th!

Short Story – The Archaeologist

Kortan wished, once again, that he could rub his nares. They itched. But the unyielding face of the cleansuit thwarted all attempts at scratching. He refocused on his task. The ancient data storage system had been a valuable find, the find of the decirotation, perhaps. Though his arms and legs ached from crouching, the device fascinated him beyond measure. Above him were grayish walls of debris, carefully sloped and held back by force curtains to prevent them from falling on the site.

At this particular dig, their archaeological group had found a complex of chambers. Many of the artifacts were exceptionally well preserved, having been buried under layers of volcanic ash. Already many discoveries had been made about the Ancients’ materials technology, daily life, work habits, and much more. Some of the artifacts were obvious as to their function, others were completely puzzling. To what purpose, for example, did a cubical object serve that merely sat on the work surface and had no moving parts? Though the material it had been made from had long since disintegrated into powder, the imprint it had left was plain.

The Ancients had left a wealth of writing implements, traces of wood pulp fibers that indicated the presence of paper products. Many artifacts were made from simple petroleum based plastics, using molds. Molds! Kortan smiled as he gently brushed the ash off the case of the data storage unit. Sure enough, there were fine mold lines on this too. This was made of plastic and some kind of coated sheet metal, no doubt made with a stamping process. The sheer impact of being surrounded by this much history made Kortan’s cardiac organ flutter. As he saw the next prize, his excitement only grew.

Click here for the rest of the story – also on

The Story of Orion and Cassiopeia – Part 1 — Katzenworld

I was a college student when I met him. We were in sage country, near the town of Moses Lake. My Mom and I went on a walk one sunny afternoon, at a wilderness area. It was a beautiful day. The red-winged blackbirds were warbling in the cattails surrounding a little stream. We’d eaten at […]

via The Story of Orion and Cassiopeia – Part 1 — Katzenworld

From Tradition to Book – Holiday Anthology

When my parents and I started living fairly far away, we still had a desire for closeness, particularly around the holidays. We started a tradition where my mother would write a story and email it to me, I would create illustrations for it then send the finished pages back over to them, then my father would help bind and ship the story. Usually with sparkly yarn and a fancy cover.  They would go out to all the friends and relatives as their Christmas present.

There were so many advantages to this. The extended family would start calling each other and discussing the story. I got plenty of chance to illustrate things. We all three had the feeling of continuing a holiday tradition that drew us together.

Now, for this year, my dad is the one who wrote the story. I had the idea to publish the last twelve or so stories into one big volume. I also would re-illustrate the stories that needed it.  So “Yuletide Lights” was born. It’s fifteen stories, each one born of personal experience, and filled with the central themes of the holiday season. They stories are in general heartwarming and filled with generosity but in some truly touching ways. Each story is a slice of life, a pair of magic glasses with which you can peep into another life, another way. The story I wrote is about a lost cat in Japan, but even it happens around the Holidays. The little girl in the book my dad wrote might as well have been me, and I remember versions of many of events in these and other stories. Many times I’ve been moved to tears, working on this project.

I had fun preparing, editing and illustrating these stories, as much fun as I hope you have  reading them.

If you’d like to see this volume, it’s available both in paperback and Kindle.


Yuletide lights cover small.jpg

The Bridge between This World and Another

Bridges have the capacity to delight and also terrify me.

On one hand, from a bridge you have an amazing view of whatever it crosses, and it’s a lot of fun to look down at water.  On the other hand, a bridge also has the capacity to cross heart-stopping chasm, and that can be terrifying for someone like me who doesn’t like heights.

In the painting above, there’s a small bridge leading to a tiny island where the Torii stands.  Since the Torii is the gateway between the normal world and the sacred, the bridge is the path to that possibility.  Then, when you look out into the fog – who knows what odd things you might find out there?

If you’re a writer, bridges make great metaphors.  They are also natural choke points so you can use them to force characters to have to meet something.  They can bring up all kinds of feelings, especially if that bridge happens to be a high railroad trestle with all the world visible between your feet!

Speaking of bridges, portals and gateways, I just finished a short story of about 10,000 words called Gateway Drug.  Check it out on my Books Page!


via Daily Prompt: Bridge

Thank you, Readers! Giveaway Time.

Thank you, everyone, I just broke my old record for views – and tripled it!  I want to show my appreciation.

This weekend I am hosting a giveaway of all three of my main books.  From October 21-23 you can go to Amazon and download them, absolutely free!  Re-post, feature or reblog if you are interested.  I’m also running a giveaway for my latest book.  Three paperback copies are being given away over at Goodreads.

Go to, main page, for the hard copy giveaway.


Available for the eBook giveaway, October 21-23:


Dice of Fate cover small
The Dice of Fate
How to P!ss Off The Customers


Purple Dragon 4 brightened
Quests of the Avatar
Seeking Virtue in the Modern World
Info for all books can be found at
Don’t have a Kindle?  No problem!  You can download a Kindle Reading app here: – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

Inktober Day 15 – The Red Eyes (fiction)

Hunching against the rain, Daphne hurried up the concrete walk till she reached the overhang that sheltered the apartment door. Her battered key rattled in the lock, stuck for a moment, then the knob turned and she was in.

She came inside, shook herself and flipped the light on, looking for her only roommate, the cat. The big Siamese was nowhere to be found, however.

“Dagoba– I’m home– come on out, girl.”

Putting her grocery bags on the stove and taking off her wet sneakers, Daphne padded back into the small living room. She meowed. It wasn’t the best feline impression but usually got a response. This time, though, Daphne didn’t hear an answer. Where is that silly cat? she wondered, her mind already starting to run wild from the stories she’d been swapping with her coworkers on that wet October evening. SHe grunted, lowering herself to the carpeted floor, She got on her hands and knees to check under the couch. That was Dagoba’s favorite spot to hide when the storms were too scary.

“Come on out, Neko-chan,” said Daphne, using her favorite japanese pet phrase for the cat. For some reason, Dagoba sometimes responded to Japanese words more rapidly than words in English. Daphne had wondered before if cats simply liked words that had fewer sibilants in them, but whatever the reason was, right now she just wanted her furry friend out from under the couch.

Two glowing, red eyes shone out from the darkness beneath the padded seat.

Fighting down the jangling from her already frayed nerves, Daphne called quietly. “You got me again, Dagoba,” she said. “Scaring me with those pretty eyes of yours. Come on out from there.”

That was when Dagoba’s warm, round head butted Daphne in the side. She stretched, blinking sleepily, as if to ask “why did you have to wake me up from my nap?”

Daphne glanced over at the Siamese. The cat looked at her curiously, as if wondering why she was on the floor. Her voice shook badly. “You were in the bedroom? Then who’s under there?” Or what? she wondered silently. Her blood was running cold in her veins. She most definitely did NOT want to look at those red eyes again. She got up and grabbed the flashlight that was stuck magnetically to the microwave and turned on its powerful 28 led beam. Slowly, shakily, she got back down on hands and knees. There was no other way to see under the low futon-style couch.

Feeling better with the light, she shone it dagobah-800underneath the couch. There was an old roll of duct tape. A wood saw. Some crumpled up grocery bags. A partial sheet of sand paper. A bottle of white glue, still in shrink wrap. An old radio. Some airsoft beebees. Lint, cat hair. Cardboard. And nothing more.

Dagoba mrowed questioningly.

“Nothing under there, I guess,” said Daphne. “Maybe the airsoft ammo reflected the light somehow?” Even as she said it, she knew it was a lame excuse. But her conscious mind fastened on any halfway plausible explanation. She wanted a normal evening. Life had just been too weird lately. She got up, scooped up her cat and hugged her. Instead of wriggling out of her grasp, Dagoba wrapped her long, brown forearms around Daphne’s neck, licked her cheek, and purred.

Two red eyes under the couch, blinked, waiting.