Under the Infernal Sky – by Paul Bennett

I’m a day late getting this up here, so if you’re following the other Fondue Writers (which you should be!), you’ve probably already seen a few of them comment on Dr Paul Bennet’s strength in moral character relative to my own. Which, of course, is true. We all know that’s true.

Listen, each group of people has different types. There’s the good one, the weird one, the loud one, and the scary one. The rest of the writers might fluctuate from character to character, but there are two stalwarts among us. Dr Paul is the Good one, and I, dear reader, am the scary one. Which is why I so love our Halloween Flash Fiction Explode-A-Ganza. This is MY time. I can pretend to be a good hearted moral person at Christmas, Thanksgiving and the rest of the stupid holidays on the calendar, but Halloween is when everyone else has to try (and fail) to be me.

Try as he might, Paul expertly fails at being me in this short story. Which is a good thing, but he 100% succeeds at being Paul. He’s got another wonderful story this week, entitled, “Under the Infernal Sky.” Check it out.

f you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Kathy Kexel will be back on Monday with another Halloween story. Until then, stay safe, watch out for monsters in your closet, and, as always, don’t break anything.

It All Started With An E-Mail – by Joseph Courtemanche

Ladies and Gentlemen. The Quasi-Annual Holiday Explode-A-Ganza is upon us. The Fondue Writers have cranked up the word-whammer machine and we have begun spitting out free (FREE!) short stories for all of you.

Today’s story is from the Senior Vice President of Insanity and Bad Strangeness, Mr. Joseph Courtemanche, and he’s got an answer to the age-old question: “What happens when you mess with the big dogs?”

The answer: You get messed with. That’s what happens. Check out the happy, fun time clown to visit Courtemanche’s website and read his story: It All Started With An E-Mail.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph Courtemanche, Jamie D. Greening, Kathy Kexel, Derek Alan Elkins, Rob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

Jamie D Greening will be back on Wednesday to fill you with dread and psychic wonderment. Until then, don’t break anything.

Dark Transit – By Michael DiMercurio

One of the great things about pursuing interests outside your “day job,” is that, beyond just building alt income streams, you get to meet all sorts of interesting people. Because I’ve been writing with the Fondue Writers for the last few years, and because Jamie Greening, Joseph Courtemanche, and I have been working on a few other projects, I got to meet Michael DiMercurio.

I’m going to say this wrong, because I never served, but DiMercurio is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and M.I.T. He served aboard nuclear submarines, saving the world from Communism and doing all sorts of things he can never speak about because of national security issues. He was an instructor at Annapolis and has, since the early ’90s, been a celebrated author of submarine fiction.

“Like Tom Clancy?” you might ask.

Yes, but good and factually accurate.

DiMercurio has written another book: his first in fifteen years. It’s called “Dark Transit,” and I had the pleasure to both read an early copy and listen to the audio narration from fellow Fondue writer, Joseph Courtemanche.

If you like military fiction, if you’re a fan of page-turners, I highly suggest checking out Dark Transit, which is available for pre-order in Kindle, paperback, and audiobook right now. DiMercurio is an amazing author. And this is just part 1 in his Anthony “Patch” Pacino series. I can’t wait to read the rest.


A Year On

It’s been a year since Mom passed away. A whole year. I can hardly believe it. There are a thousand stories I could tell you about her. Some serious. Some funny. Some disturbing. Some all three. . 

Here’s one…

When I was a kid, she convinced me to be a part of the church Christmas play by saying to me one day, “Joey. Would you like some ice cream?” 

“Yes!” I said, because I loved ice cream. I still love ice cream. 

“Great! Get in the car. Let’s go.” 

She drove me to Forrest Park Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio – our church at the time – and told me to get out of the car. 

“Mom? I thought we were getting ice cream!” 

“We are. Just as soon as you’re finished with play practice. You meet twice a week until Christmas, and don’t think about backing out, now that you’ve committed.”

“But I…”

“Have fun!” 

And she drove off. We ended up getting ice cream that day, but I was wary of her invitations from then on out. Sometimes, they came with thick strings attached. 

Here’s another one … 

When I was about ten years old, Mom took my sister and me to the Greenhills pool one summer afternoon. We put our towels down on the hill overlooking the concourse because all the chairs were taken, and we spent a few hours swimming. 

Normally, my friends and I would play dodgeball in the grass next to the pool during adult swim when us kids weren’t allowed in the water. But on this day, none of my friends were there. One of the kids in our group – Jack was his name – had a birthday party, and everyone was invited but me. 

So I sat moping on the beach towels on the hill overlooking the pool, and refused to talk to anyone. Mom sat next to me. 

“I just thought of a story,” she said. 

I didn’t respond, so she continued. “This friend of yours…”

“He’s not my friend.” 

“Okay. This kid. He wakes up the morning after his birthday to find that he’s got big, donkey ears.” 


“Donkey ears and a tail. And every time he speaks, he brays like a mule. And he smells like a sewage plant.”

“And people stop calling him Jack. Instead, they call him Jackass.” 

Instead of scolding me for the dirty word, she laughed.

“Right. Jackass. He’s the biggest Jackass in greater Cincinnati.” 

“Everywhere he goes, people say to him, they say ‘Watch out, everyone. There goes that gigantic jackass again!” 

We laughed hard at that for a while, I felt better about missing that Jackass’s birthday party, and from there on out, every time someone made me angry, I would invent stories in my head about them being part of the Jackass family.

That family is pretty big now.

Then there was the time we ran out of money and mom had to sell her piano to make ends meet. I was very young at this point; four or five maybe. She loved that piano. She had all kinds of sheet music, and she would play from her big book of songs in the summer afternoons when it was too hot to do anything else. It would somehow make things cooler.

The guys in the moving truck came, and took her piano away. She stood at the screen door, crying, for a good long time after that. At the time, I remember thinking she must have liked that piano more than I thought. I understood that more as I got older. 

Still more. 

When I was in high school, my friends and I loved to play frisbee golf. We’d go play the courses in Cincinnati and, if we returned to my house, Mom would loudly proclaim: “Don’t get your jizz on the carpet, guys!” 

“Yeah, Joe,” my friends said. “Stop jizzing on the carpet.”

We told her what it meant, but she didn’t believe us. She had to ask her friends at work the next day, which just made things all the more awesome. We laughed at that for a good, long time. We never stopped laughing at that.

When I was in middle school and my sister was in high school, our one landline – remember landlines? – our one landline was almost always tied up by my sister, talking on the phone with her then boyfriend. 

That’s probably not exactly true. It might have only been a few minutes a day, but to me, it seemed like always. 

Anyway, whenever my sister was on the phone, Mom would sneak into the bathroom with one of the other phones, plug it in, and then spy on my sister’s phone call. As if neither of us knew what she was doing. Caryn and I made up all sorts of fake stories with our friends and respective love interests just to drive mom into wild fits. 

Mom had a hard time when Caryn left for college. Part of her light seemed to grow dim for a while. I left two years later, and I have to imagine the same thing happened then, too, although I never saw it up close like I did when Caryn left. 

My oldest son will be in eighth grade next year. Blink, and he’ll be in college like we were, and I can imagine some of my light dissipating for a while, too. I’m starting to figure that out. 

One of my favorite things Mom did was to wake us up for church on Sundays. She’d sneak into my room, and gently prod me awake. I’d pretend to be asleep. Or annoyed, Or asleep and annoyed. But, eventually, I’d get up and we’d get going. She never forced us to go, but she laid a good foundation for my sister and me. She always spoke openly about God in a way that showed her deep faith and love for the Lord, but was not overbearing. If you disagreed, that was okay. She still loved you. Loving you was more important that you believing what she thought was right. 

I struggle with that sometimes. 

Mom tried to get me to go to the hospital to see my Grandpa Shaw when he was nearing the end of his life. I didn’t. I kept telling myself that he was just getting something fixed, that there would be more time, that this wasn’t the end. But it was. And when I went to his funeral, I couldn’t believe I had missed my last opportunity to say goodbye. 

When Grandma Shaw died a few years later, I was there to say goodbye. Mom was right there with me, holding my hand. She told Grandma I was there to say hi, and Grandma turned her head slightly and tried to smile. I had to leave the room. I had never been that close to someone who was dying before. It was hard to see. 

When my Grandma Amrein was killed in a car accident, Mom asked if I would read Grandma’s favorite scripture at her funeral. Psalm 121. I will lift up mine eyes to the hills. From whence commeth my strength. 

I made it halfway through before the lump in my throat took over and I couldn’t make the words come out anymore. The pastor had to finish for me. 

A few months later, the girl who killed my Grandma spoke at one of the local schools. Mom went. Afterward, she approached the girl and said that she forgave her. It was a touching moment (you may have heard me speak about it before). That girl went on to marry into a family that’s famous in Cincinnati for a certain brand of cookies. As far as I know, Mom never bought those cookies again the rest of her life, despite her having forgiven the young woman. 

Which just goes to show that forgiveness is an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do. 

Mom was over the moon excited as we prepared for the birth of our first kid. Jen was in labor for a good, long while and mom, having grown suspicious that we had neglected to let her know when he was born, called all my friends and the hospital multiple times, asking what was happening. 

Many years later, knowing that we had been trying to have a girl, Mom settled into the idea that Shaw Kid #5 – SK5 – was going to be a boy. That’s what the Doctors said, after all. They had been back and forth for a while, but the final ultrasounds all said Boy, so that’s what it was going to be. 

We called her after everything calmed down. Mom asked “So … what’s his name.” 

“Phoebe,” I said. 

“Phoebe? That’s an odd name for a …. Wait?” 

“It’s a girl,” I said, and she cried open tears of joy in celebration. 

There are so many stories. So very many stories. I could sit here for hours recounting them. If you knew her, you know. If you didn’t … well, you really would have liked to know her. The light dimmed sometimes, but it was always there, and she was always willing to share it. 

A few years ago, mom started having health problems. It got worse and worse. I remember I was driving through a wetlands park here in Florida, when I spoke with Mom after she had come home from yet another trip to the hospital. 

“The doctors say things are looking better,” she said. 

“Mom. I think you need to get some new doctors. I don’t think these guys know what they’re doing.” 

“I’m fine where I am,” she said, and that was that, although I think that’s when she knew things weren’t going to get better. 

We spent many evenings from there on, talking late into the night: her on her back porch in Greenhills, Ohio and me on the front porch, sweating through another summer in Orlando. We talked about old friends. We talked about the kids. We talked about politics and faith. We told stories. 

Exactly one year ago today, we stayed up late, chatting. I was preoccupied with my latest attempt at changing the world through a TEDx talk, and she just listened. She said the doctors wanted her to go into the hospital again for a simple procedure to help fix the swelling in her legs. 

“It’s only an hour or so,” She said, “It’s nothing.” 

Mom and Dad called the next night from the hospital to let me know when the surgery was planned. They had been looking at new places to live. Making plans for the future. She told me she loved me. I told her I loved her, too. She seemed happy. Hopeful. 

This was the last time I would speak with her on this side of the veil. 

The following morning, she had her surgery. She came through, but crashed shortly afterward. I flew up. By the time I got there, she was mostly out of it. Dad was there. Caryn was there. My cousins Sandy and Michelle were there. I held her hand for a while. Then the doctors said it was time to remove the medicine keeping her alive. They gave her morphine, and what little bit of her presence that had hung on long enough for me to get there, melted away a few minutes later. 

We sat with her in the hospital room, late into the night as her breathing slowed, rasped, and then eventually stopped. There didn’t seem to be much pain. She was there one moment, and the next she had just slipped away, almost without us noticing, even though we were all quietly watching and waiting. 

I stopped by the field that used to be our house where I grew up. They tore it down a few years back. I walked into what would have been our living room and I remembered the stories. I could still see us laughing about my friend, the Jackass. I could still see the piano being loaded up and carried away. I was hoping maybe to feel something Big and Important. But I didn’t. All I felt was numb. All I felt was the hole in my life she once filled. 

There have been many times in the last year, where I’ve caught myself wanting to tell mom another story. Something the kids did. Something that happened at work. Some struggle I’m having. Another Jackass who’s entered the fray. 

Then, I remember. She’s not there to answer. She’s with God now and I will see her again one day, and that’s all well and good. But right now, she’s out there somewhere and I can’t share with her these things I am so used to sharing. It’s been a year, and that part still hasn’t gotten any easier. 

Mom didn’t want a funeral. She wanted everyone who loved her to gather in my aunt Nancy’s backyard and have a party. She wanted us to laugh and tell stories. She wanted us to enjoy ourselves, to not mourn too much. We did that, more or less. Family and friends flew in from all over. We grilled some food, drank some adult sodas, laughed, and told stories. The little kids ran around screaming. Exasperated parents chased after them, knocking over plates of food and various, assortments of toys and sporting equipment. Mass chaos. Just like every family gathering I can remember. Shortly thereafter, we all went back to our daily grinds and life just kinda … moved on. 

But we haven’t moved on. When you lose someone you love, there is no moving on. You just move forward. That part of your heart that was ripped out, that piece of your light that dimmed; it will always be that way. The wounds remain. You just learn to work around them.

That’s a hard thing. It’s good, because it means there was a lot of love there, but that doesn’t stop it from being hard. 

Some friends have asked what I would have said at Mom’s funeral had I delivered the eulogy. My first response is usually, “I probably wouldn’t have done it. My family still hasn’t forgiven me for screwing up Grandma’s.” 

If I had done the eulogy, though, it might have gone something like this … 

The last things I said to you, Mom, right as you passed were “I love you” and “Thank you.” Thank you for the stories. Thank you for the inappropriate jokes. Thank you for the mad attempts to get me involved in things I didn’t want to be involved in. Thank you for steering me away from the things I needed to avoid.. Thank you for always being excited about the Next Big Thing happening in my life. Thank you for teaching me to be a responsible human being, despite my limitless capacity for irresponsibility. Thank you for always pointing the way back to God in all things you do. That’s been a stronger compass in my life than nearly everything else. Thank you for giving me the freedom to fail at so many things, and the joy to share when I succeed at one or two of them. Thank you for showing me strength in failure and humility in success. Thank you for showing me what it’s like to be a servant, to continue loving people even as your life wound down. Thank you for so much wild, reckless love for me, my wife, my kids, my friends, our family, everyone. So much so that it’s almost embarrassing, and I don’t get embarrassed. 

Thank you for everything. I love you and I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you again. There are SO MANY Jackasses I need to tell you about. You have no idea. 

Also: don’t get jizz on the carpet. I hear God doesn’t like that. 

Authors You Should Check Out – Jamie D. Greening

It’s not often that you find an author (or any kind of public figure) who openly refers to himself by comparisons to a vegetable. But Jamie “Green bean” Greening does. With a name like Greening, though, the comparisons almost make themselves.

I met Jamie Greening and Joe Courtemanche at the Athanatos Festival in 2018, where all three of us were speaking. Afterward, Jamie, Joe C, and I rode together back to the airport and, along the way, struck up both a friendship and plans for future writing projects. Joe C started this Covid Quarantine Cantina thing and Jamie and I were two of the first three.

Not that this makes us special, mind you.

Along the way, it’s been great getting to know Jamie and to call him a friend. Hopefully you like him as much as I do. Check out Jamie Greening.

How was your experience writing stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

It was fun. At the beginning we were just thinking about providing people with something to read while they were on lockdown, but then it turned into a part of our normal rhythms, producing one story each week, which is not easy to do. At the time, my work as a pastor increased exponentially and that made the schedule for new stories challenging, but it was good for me. 

Which of your stories here is your favorite?

That’s not a fair question, a little like asking which is your favorite child. Each one reflects a different side of me and my writing. It is tempting to say the Butch Gregory version, since torturing poor Pastor Butch is one of my passions. But, honestly, The Vid Kids was probably my favorite just because I really hammed it up. But Let’s Do It is in that same category of just taking a completely silly and overblown part of the COVID-19 experience and blowing it up to its logical conclusion. 

Favorites from other authors?

All of the Fondue writers are so very talented, and their stories are wonderful. Kathy Kexel’s story about Janelle getting tangled up in Chinese spies somewhere in Wisconsin was a hoot. It is the Secrets trilogy. Who can ever forget Derek Elkin’s weinermobile in Them Ole Pandemic Blues Apocalypse. Paul Bennett evoked many emotions in his As It Is In Heaven. Robert Cely is the master of myth, and his epic retelling of the origins of the deadly COVID-19 virus in The Farmer, The Demon, and the Canyon of the Four Winds has stayed with me. I really liked Joseph Courtemanche’s Nema What, so much fun. Joe Shaw really impressed me with his four part story titled Two More. 

But again, picking out favorites is almost impossible. They are all great. 

How has the COVID pandemic affected your life?

People I know and love have died. Many have been very sick. I buried a lot of people in December and January from COVID. 

It has had a terrible impact upon church life, and I don’t mean the rhythms and practices of meeting regularly. I mean on the people. People have changed. I think the emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact upon folks will take a decade or more to heal, if ever. The levels of distrust, paranoia, and downright meanness is hard to fathom, especially among people who claim to follow the Lord. 

Current Projects?

I am editing my monster book, a further fleshing out of a series of short stories I wrote years ago about The Deep Cove Monster. I am also writing a reflection piece incorporation creative writing and poetry into the Gospel of John. 

Where can readers reach you?

The easiest place is jamiegreening.com. That is where I blog, and there is also a link to my Amazon page that has the books and stories I’ve written.

Authors You Should Check Out: Paul Bennett

You know how, with some folks, you just can’t seem to get their names right? Such is the case with Paul Bennett. I kept wanting to call him Steve. Or John. And then, once I got the first name right, I kept wanting to call him Paul Anderson. And EVEN THEN, I kept misspelling his last name. Benet? Bennet? Benett? Benette?

I’m sorry, Paul. I really am.

At any rate, Paul was one of the last writers to join our band of merry misfits. But his impact was huge. Check out Paul Bennett (or Benet. Or Bennet. Or whatever).

How was the experience of writing your stories for The Covid Quarantine Cantina?

It was a great experience writing for the COVID Quarantine Cantina. Several of my partners had a great idea for our group of writers to band together to provide some much-needed entertainment and distraction during a very trying time. Not only did it encourage us to dust off our writing skills and produce some quality stories, but it also allowed us to interact and build friendships with others living across the country. In addition, it was beneficial to our writing productivity by providing us with deadlines to meet. No one likes deadlines, but they do have a way of making sure the work gets done.

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

I found writing a Halloween-themed story to be the most challenging, but that challenge also produced my favorite story. It turned out that after The Visitation was published on my blog, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who contacted me to tell me how much they could identify regarding the haunting they experience from their past sins, but also their thankfulness for God’s forgiveness.

How has the Covid Pandemic affected your life?

As a physician, COVID-19 has brought many challenges, but I have to be honest when I say that, during this time, God has given me a peace like never before. More than ever, I am convinced that I will not leave this world one second before He intended and that while I am here I am to go out into a fearful world to humbly, but courageously share His love.

What are you working on right now and in the near future? What can we look forward to?

Right now, my writing projects include writing the sequel to my novel, A Fall of Sparrows, as well as continuing to publish short stories on my blog. I will also soon release a previously unpublished novel of mine, Amalric, which is a historical fiction novel set  in Germania in the year 16 AD.  My plan is to release this novel, one chapter at a time, onto my blog. 

See more of Paul’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Authors You Should Check Out: Kathy Kexel

When Joe Courtemanche came up with the idea to write a story a week with just me, him, and Jamie Greening, we planned to write for two or three weeks and call it quits. That’s how long this pandemic thing was going to last, after all. Right?

Those were simpler times.

When it seemed like things might last longer, we decided to add a few friends. Kathy Kexel was the first of those friends. I remember telling her, at one point, she reminded me of my mom. So here is, from my perspective at least, the mother of the Fondue Writers Club (And Bar & Grille and Laundromat).

How was your experience writing your stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

I was an interloper, in a sense. I saw Joseph Courtemanche’s plan for writing COVID related flash fiction. I asked if he was interested in a story from me and sent him a sample. He accepted. 

I expected to write just one piece and was a bit overwhelmed by the challenge of one story a week. I couldn’t begin to imagine multiple, very different stories on the same topic, but the challenge provided sufficient motivation. 

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

That’s a hard one. I rather like Side Effects, but then I think it would be cool to be an elf maiden. 

What is your favorite story from each of the other authors?

Joseph Courtemanche: Lavinia Did It. (I was never a Downton Abbey fan until the last two seasons)

Rob Cely: In Memoriam. The simple reminder that gathering together with other believers is a necessity, no matter what the risk.

Derek Elkins: Them Ole Pandemic Apocalypse Blues. That story is just plain fun. Besides, the Weinermobile has its origins in Wisconsin. 

Jamie Greening: Academia. Having worked in academia at bot state and private universities, I can only testify to the truth of it.

Paul Bennett: Song in October. It’s hard to choose just one of Paul’s because they all are suffused with hope and light.

Joe Shaw: Special Deliveries. Proof that Shaw does have a heart. (Shaw sez: All lies and false propaganda!)

What are you working on now?
Janelle is about to meet motorcycle repairman who is also a lapsed preacher going by the moniker of Biker Rev. Then there’s that group of medical students on a medical mission trip in a fictional “Stan” country that get trapped when Islamic fundamentalists overrun the capital city and the only airport. Besides that, I have sporadic entries on my blog. And now that my sewing machine is out of the shop, I have a quilt for my grand-nephew to finish and a curriculum for children’s church to write.

Where can readers reach you if they want to read more of your stuff?

Woolgatherings on Facebook 


See more of Kathy’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Authors You Should Check Out: Derek Alan Elkins

We’re coming up on a year since we published our collection of Quarantine-Themed short fiction: The Covid Quarantine Cantina. And I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment with each of the authors from that book so we can see what they’ve been up to since last we spoke.

Today’s author hails from Kansas City, I believe, and has what looks like an MS Paint-themed icon for his Facebook Profile. It’s Derek Alan Elkins.

How was your experience writing your stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

I’m not much of a self-motivator, so I enjoyed the forced motivation that the writing provided.  I love the act of creating new stories, but I get distracted easily with movies and video games.  Plus, I really enjoyed the camaraderie with the other authors. 

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

I’m a big fan of fantasy in all its forms: horror, science fiction, sword and sorcery, etc.  I love stories that cram a ton of creativity into the story.  The story of mine which I think was most creative was “The Farmer, The Demon, and the Canyon of the Four Winds.” 

If you can…can you name your favorite story from each of the other authors?

Joseph Courtemanche – “God’s Rules”  Got to love a twisted and depraved mind.  Courtemanche leaves it all out on display in this story.

Jamie Greening – “Academia” It was tough picking one of Jamie’s stories, because I am fond of science fiction.  But this one comes with enough twists and turns to shove it into first place.

Joe Shaw – “The New Family on Beecher Street” I love a good analogy and this story is one big, beautiful analogy.

Kathy Kexel – “Secrets, part one through three”  Janelle…that’s all I need to say.

Rob Cely – “The Unessential” Rob’s got a big heart for the outcasts and this story puts his big heart on full display.

Paul Bennett – “An Acre of Peace, parts one and two” It’s a simple story with layers underneath.  Paul is awesome at those bean dip kind of stories.

How has the Covid Pandemic affected your life?

I’m an introvert, so I have seriously enjoyed working from home.  I could get used to this kind of life.

What are you working on right now and in the near future?

I’ve got the iron in a few fires these days.  Up front and close to the chest, I am working on a stage play about a girl that falls in love with a superhero, only to find out that the superhero was all in her mind.  The story revolves around reality and if our beliefs mirror reality or if they reveal something else.  I’m also working on several movie scripts, the most prominent is called “A Steamworx War”.  The movie is set in a steampunk world and concerns a Steampunk version of Charles Dickens investigating the kidnapping of scientists by a mastermind to start a war.  I’m also about 60 pages into a novel I’m writing called “Shadow Apprentice”, a follow up to “An Introduction to Shadow”.  The sequel is set in a world where people called Awakened fight monsters, called Fallen, hiding within the bodies of normal people.  I’m also starting a podcast this weekend called “Creative Diarrhea” with my son and a friend. Each week, we’ll be brainstorming something slightly weird like craft projects involving a dead hamster and how many weasels would it take to kill a T-Rex?  Should be mildly diverting. 

Where can readers reach you if they want to read more of your stuff?

I have a website, where I occasionally blog and stuff:  derekaelkins.com, also, I have books and short stories on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

See more of Derek’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Bring Two Of Every Kind

The Cincinnati Reds got rained out in the eighth inning last night, although you probably could have surprised the umpiring crew with that statement. Seemed like they just wanted to keep the party going. A quick glance at some Youtube videos showed the Gods tossing everything but the kitchen sink on the field in an effort to get the umps to pull their heads out of their echo chambers. I even saw some fancy silverware flying.

This ain’t football, umps. This ain’t Rugby. This is baseball. We don’t deal with mild spring rains here. No Sir. They offend our delicate sensibilities.

In reality, though, would you want to stand in against a professional major league chuck-flinger, who is capable of throwing projectiles in your direction at 100+mph when said chuck-flinger says the rain is so bad he can’t hold onto the ball?

Not me, bubba.

I’d rather be at the bottom of a mud pit dogpile scrum in a mid-November NFL game where the most exciting thing is the torrential sleet and downpour. At least there, you can make hand signals at the 350lb lineman currently crushing your chest cavity while your helmet fills with water. Death is no surprise in that scenario. And who knows? Maybe that guy will move and let you roll the dice again on the next play? Happens all the time.

A pitcher loses control of his fastball in the rain and your liable to wake up in the hospital three days later doing your best Dan Crenshaw impersonation. A permanent one. Then, all you’d have left is a career in piracy or politics (but I repeat myself), and what kind of fun is that?

The game resumes this evening, and let’s hope the Gods have found other things with which to distract themselves.