The Free Indie Reader

This anthology put together by Tom Lichtenberg is one of the best FREE collections I’ve seen. Authors include yours truly, Tom and several others, including Lisa Thatcher, Paul Samael and Willie Wit.

Tom is offering this free on Smashwords and Feedbooks.

Go take a look, download the book and give Tom some feedback, either at Pigeonweather or on the Smashwords site.


Inspiration of Taria

Funny how inspiration strikes. It’s kind of like that sometimes–striking you like a bolt of lightning. Knocking you for a loop for just awhile.

While running the other day, I detoured into the cemetery, lamenting a particular problem and a bit on the moody side. I had woke in a particular mood. Not a good one.

While at the west end of the necropolis, I slowed to a walk, sweating and thinking to myself that if I could just…

That’s when it happened. Inspiration struck. For a moment I was frozen. I had literally come to a stop, the idea washing over me.

I had heard of this happening to others, but to be honest, I’ve usually had to work for my ideas. By the time I got home–twenty minutes later–Taria of the Dead was mentally written.

I saw her clearly. It was just about putting her down on paper–ahem–the screen.

I’m going to document this process, just for posterity’s sake. So the following is the beginning of, and the plot so far of Taria of the Dead.

Some of this won’t make sense, because it’s a work in progress. But if it does make sense to you, all suggestions and comments are welcome.


Taria of the Dead

Part I


Adult Content: Language, sexual situations, violence.


“And now…farewell to kindness, humanity and gratitude. I have substituted myself for Providence in rewarding the good; may the God of vengeance now yield me His place to punish the wicked.”

― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo


In the not too distant future:

The woman stumbled past graves, down the asphalt path. The cloak of night cast graves in diminutive relief. Nothing appeared as real as it should of. Tombstones etched into the landscape seemed small, insignificant details to the idea behind them. The dead is what mattered.

The gun heavy in her hand she thought of dropping it, letting it go, as she had everything else. A light rain had begun, spilling tiny bits of acid into the landscape, stinging her skin. Eventually, if she stayed out here long enough, the rain would fade her away, as it had the faces of the tombstones. Soon, she thought, she would be nothing.

Drenched and shivering, the grave she sought loomed ahead. Even in the darkness, she could make out it’s outline. The structure rose above most others in the cemetery, towering over her at six feet. A large concrete pedestal with a female angel holding a child topping it.

“Mama, what else can I do?” She asked breathlessly, finally standing before it.

Slowly, silently, like paint running across canvas, she felt herself slipping to the ground. Her body would stand no more. Exhaustion had stepped in, demanding rest. “I’m going to do this,” she whispered. “It’s all I have left.”

This, she thought, would be her last conscious act. It was all hers. Something no one could take from her. As heavy as the gun felt, she drug it upward, toward her face. God, it’s so damn heavy, she thought.

Then she heard it. A sound—something like a whisper—nearby. She froze, not wanting to bring attention to herself. Hoping whoever was out here would pass by without noticing the woman laying on the ground.

Straining to listen, the whispers almost seemed part of the rain, that had now become a downpour. She scooted herself up, placing her back against the pedestal and looked around. Trees sagged under the weight of the deluge, but she saw no one. “What is that Mama?” she asked, straining to hear. Though it sounded like rain, it was different. More like the shuffling of feet against dry leaves or stiff formal dresses rubbing up against one another.

She had become immune to the effects of the rain. The shivering had abated and her skin had become numb to the minuscule chemical contents. Perhaps the acid was already working into her brain, she thought. Maybe she had already breathed enough of the toxins that she just no longer cared.

But then she saw them. Not one or two. Oh no. There were several. Barely distinguishable from the night and the rain, but glowing. People. Or more appropriate, spirits or souls of what was once considered human. She knew these were not ordinary spirits. No. They were here for a reason. They had heard her, felt her pain and like her, wanted justice. She would be their mouthpiece. Their instrument of vengeance.

Taria, they said in unison. Taria, we hear you. We can help…

One year previous

1. Character building of husband, Taria, daughter. As a family and situation. Their life.

Taria glanced over her shoulder, saw Mark set his drink on the coffee table. “Coaster please.” She grinned inwardly, knowing he hated being corrected.

“I’m not a child,” he said, often enough. “You don’t have to correct behavior. I forget at times. Have other things on my mind. I’m a busy guy.”

Glancing up at her, she saw the nearly imperceptible wince. Oh god. “I’m sorry,” she started, then stopped herself and grinned. “You can pay me back tonight. I’m gonna be a bad girl.”

he snatched the cup from the table and she could tell the incident was already forgotten. Leering, Mark swaggered dramatically, stopped in front of her and leaned in kissing her on the mouth. “I know how to tame that bad girl, don’t I?”

“Oh yes you do big guy.” She laughed quietly, putting one arm around his waist, adjusting the strap of her laptop case with the other hand.

“Mom. I need help.” Aria stood on the top stair looking down at them scowling. Her seven-year-old face twisted in a way that illustrated her repulsion. Taria fought not to laugh aloud.

Marcus kissed her again, grinning. “I got it. Take a break bad girl.” He patted her on the bottom and bound up the stairs, before she could respond. “What you need help with girl? You need someone to kick butt?”

Giggling, Aria turned from the stairs and headed in the direction of her bedroom. “Dad! I need someone to fix…”

“I’m going to work,” she called up the stairs. “I’ll see you two tonight!”

“Love you!” came the dual reply.

At lunch Taria sat at a table across from her best friend, Etta Bagsby. Enjoying the fresh air of the outdoor patio, She listened to her friend complain. “Can’t they do something about the flies here?”

For reasons she could not comprehend, if an insect was nearby, it would find its way to Etta. Insects loved woman, though the feelings were not reciprocated.

“I don’t know why you like to sit out here Taria. It’s so nasty.”

“Etta, there was one fly that found its way to you. There is nothing nasty about this place. For Christ’s sake, they charge thirty dollars a plate for rice and beans. They can’t afford to be nasty.”

Etta had been looking away and now glanced at her surreptitiously, grinning. “That’s true. I just wish we would start sitting inside. I’m not an outdoorsy person, you know.”

Taria sighed. Of course she knew. How many times had they went through this? She was trying to get Etta to enjoy the spring weather for once. “Next time we’ll sit inside. I promise.”

“Hmph. I guess I’ll shut up now. I’m starved. What are you having?”

Taria glanced back to the menu sitting in front of her. “I’m not even that hungry. I think I’m going to have a dinner salad.”

“That’s fine for you. I have to eat.” Etta glanced up at her and grinned, “You share a piece of the cheese cake with me afterward?”

She nodded. “Yeah, but that’s it. Nothing else this week. If we’re doing the cheese cake, I can’t. Ugh. I don’t know why I let you talk me into these things.”

Etta laughed. “Because it’s so damn good! You know how good it is. You know you want to.” She slammed the menu down on the table and raised her eyes to scan the patio. “Where is that waiter?”


2. Husband dies from freak accident?

3. Insurance doesn’t pay off—has something to do with the way he was killed.

4. Six months later she loses house, has to rent a small apartment in lower middle-class part of town. Friends begin avoiding her.

5. Loses her job because of the time she’s taken off to deal with everything. She tries to find work, but is coming up with nothing. Becomes homeless.

6. Daughter dies because of circumstances they find themselves in. At night they lock themselves into a public park bathroom. During the day the girl goes to school, or they stay at the library as Taria keeps trying to find work. Daughter becomes sick, (flu develops into bronchitis, into pneumonia) takes her to emergency room and is told her daughter needs bedrest…

Sleeping in park one night, after her daughter’s death, she is raped and left for dead.

The final cover?

I worked for another couple hours on the cover last night, found an acceptable text color and pushed the border away from the image some. The problem with pushing the border back too much—there would not have been enough room for the title on the dark green background.


The gold color of the text doesn’t look right upon the white background, so I kept enough border at the top so I could include the text, but still have enough white space to place the caption and provide that separation between the image and the darker green.

I think it’s much better now, than when I began.

Thanks Steve, Phyl and Tom. I so appreciate the help and suggestions.

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