Green Flash

Posted: 11 September 2014 in Uncategorized


I stand on the beach, staring out at the flat sea, thinking this is how must have first appeared to Magellan. The movement of the water lapping at my feet is almost imperceptible.

A band of gray clouds hang over the sea, but the horizon is a straight line. As the sun breaks through the clouds, angelic shafts of light cast a blinding slick upon the sea. The clouds then thickened, pushing the perfect red yoke of a sun toward the now burning sea.

“Hey,” I hear Josie yell from behind me, “c’mon or you’ll miss it.” I turn to see her heading up the beach, to the iron stairs bolted to the nearly sheer cliff.

I’d moved the California the previous month, fleeing the small Midwestern town where I’d grown up; I’d left the day after I graduated from high school. My mom had come west after divorcing my dad a few years earlier, but I had stayed to finished school with my friends. My dad re-married and by my junior year, I knew I’d made a mistake, but decided to stick it out. Even that was a bad choice, but thanks to Josie, I can now live with it.

“Miss what?” I yell back. She keeps running, her tie-dyed skirt flowing around her.

Josie is the daughter of one of my mother’s friends. I met her the day arrived and fell for her immediately, but didn’t know to gauge what she thought of me. Back in high school, I was one of those loner kids who were frequently bullied and awkward around most people, especially girls, who would seldom give me the time of day anyway.

Josie was different. She didn’t care that my hair was short, my glasses square, and that my clothes looked as though I’d just walked off the farm. To her, everything was beautiful and groovy.

I reached the top to find her sitting in the grass at the edge of the cliff. I sat next to her and asked again, “What am I missing?”

“Shhh,” she said, smiling and point out to sea. “Watch.”

So I watch. The clouds and the sea had turn lavender, separated by a strip of yellow ochre. The ragged clouds higher up are bright splotches of bittersweet pink—higher still, I can see the slightest sliver of a moon.

Then, as the last light of the drowning sun ranges the spectrum and ducks beyond the waves I saw it, the green flash.

We don’t speak, and as the night and stars enveloped us, I finally take her hand.


coyote he hungry powerful hungry
and they tall-walkers they movin’ in
tearin’ up the ground  scarin’ off
rabbit and snake they timid folk
don’t like much coyote anyway
squirrel and mouse they stay
coyote still powerful hungry

yeah they tall-walkers they
movin’ in buildin’ they strange
hutches, they bright hutches
makin’ rabbit get gone snake too
they bring some big others
some not so big others
some small others too

coyote but not puma but not
easier than rabbit sometimes
sometimes not
still tasty but too few

so coyote go down
down to the strange canyon
with the hard ground and
the big movin’ run you down
you not careful yeah coyote
go down and see what’s what
tall-walkers they dangerous
but they tall-walkers
they always have food


This piece came to me pretty much as is, and pretty much all at once, upon hearing an audio presentation of Calvin Forbes’ “Talking Blue” about a raccoon in New York City.

The photograph, Coyote Pretends to be a Cardboard Box, is by my friend, James Sorby, AKA, hoaxeye on Deviant Art:

The painter of the mural is unknown to me at this time. 

Hagridden Newest Cover

Hagridden is a historical novel by Samuel Snoek-Brown, published by Columbus Press (

Straddling the line of historical and contemporary literary fiction, Hagridden is a haunting drama that unflinchingly approaches race, culture, apathy, and humanity stripped to its core. It reveals what real people will do to endure, as well as how some morph into unrecognizable beasts while others hollow into shells of their former selves.

The novel follows two women struggling to survive in the war-torn South as the Civil War tumbles to an end. In a storm-ravaged bayou, their efforts and sanity are further threatened by the intrusion of a revenge-bent Confederate officer and supposed sightings of the fabled rougarou, a fierce wolf-like creature of local lore.

Shaded in Southern Gothic and classical motifs yet written in a sharp contemporary style reminiscent of Tom Franklin, Charles Frazier, and Cormac McCarthy, Hagridden presents a strangely beautiful world where humanity plays the contradictory roles of protagonist and antagonist.
Hardback, paperback and e-book editions of Hagridden are available at and at all major e-book retailers.

Find Hagridden here! Link to-


She had wanted to surprise him, to prepare dinner and get everything ready. He had wanted to go out, but she had a better idea. What idea, he had asked, but she told him he’d have to wait. And so, she had taken a half-day off and left work early, but the freezing rain had come unexpectedly, and the roads had not yet been salted. He wasn’t sure that anyone at the time knew it was needed since the temperature had dropped so suddenly.

He left the college late, unaware that his wife was not yet home. He usually called her before leaving, but had been distracted by a student wanting a last minute conference. He didn’t think much about it since he’d home soon enough.

The ambulance was gone by the time he arrived at the spot where her car had skipped into a tree, an old maple that stood skeletal against the fading light, but the sheriff was still there. The red and blue flashers on his cruiser had cast alternating shadows as he walked toward the professor, who waited in his car.

What’s going on, Sheriff, the professor had asked, but then saw the car.

I’m sorry, the sheriff had said. She’s alive, but that’s all we know. I’d better drive you. The professor nodded, handing his keys to a deputy who would bring his car later.

At the hospital he learned that she probably wasn’t aware of the cold when the hypothermia overtook her, having been knocked unconscious when the airbag failed.

That, perhaps, was a blessing.

A blessing, he agreed numbing.

She had been found too late; there was nothing to be done.

He continued to nod, mesmerized by the lights and beeps of the machines that were keeping his wife alive.

Do you know if she had a DNR? No, he had said. No, she did not.

She’s an organ donor, according to her driver’s license. What do want to do?

He stared at the doctor, uncomprehending. The machines continued to beep and blink.

When he finally got home, he found that she had purchased all of his favorites including a rolled roast for the rotisserie; it eventually spoiled and had to be thrown out.

He took all the leave he could, then a sabbatical, declined summer classes. She lie in her bed, unmoving, wasting away. He worked her arms and legs, massaged her muscles so they wouldn’t atrophied, preparing for the time when she would finally wake up, which he knew would never come.

His world narrowed to his home, now empty and hollow, his wife’s hospital room, and the vistas offered by history books. The ancient past was safe, a comfort. Those people were not dying; they were blessedly long dead. Traversing his own past, their past, that was now dangerous, a constant reminder that “they” were now a statistic.

By fall, he had to return to the classroom. Everyone murmured the proper, empty words. Time to return to the living, his friends had said. He’d nod and thank them, appearing to agree. He knew he would not rejoin the living until she did, which she would not.

He offered only his standard classes, the ones he could teach in his sleep, the ones he could phone in. It would be his last semester nonetheless. He should have seen it coming.

The end came on the heels a girl, a sub-par student used to getting by on her wits and charm, which included ample breasts that strained against her always too-tight blouses. She knew he was married, knew his wife was in a coma, but thought she could work that to her advantage. When she was unable to seduce him, when he refused her offer of sex in exchange for a passing grade, she went to the administration and accused him of what she had offered.

Her actions were so blindly selfish he could barely fathom what had happened. He lost his position, and with it, his insurance. The machines keeping his wife alive were expensive to run. He would soon be forced to pull the plug.

The student eventually recanted, but it no longer mattered. The damage was done and he knew he could not go back to that or any other school. It didn’t matter that he was innocent; one does not get out from under such charges. And besides, his wife was dead.

The day he was packing up his office, the student came to see him, begging forgiveness. Instead, he thanked her, saying he too had been selfish. He wanted to strangle her.

Through the entire ordeal, he had managed to hold it together, the days and nights beside her bed, the endless cups of bad coffee, the lack of sleep, the green line going flat, the green line screaming.

She had not believed in embalming so he was spared from seeing her dolled up, looking so natural.

During the prayers and eulogies, the trip out to the cemetery, even the lowering of the polished box into the earth, he held it together so well that he began to wonder if wasn’t he who was dead.

But then came the dirt, throwing the dirt into the hole, the dirt that would cover her forever. He couldn’t do. With both hands full, he sank to his knees and wept. Someone, he didn’t know who, tried to console him, to get him to his feet, saying it’s not what she would have wanted.

He shook them off and continued to howl.

By the time he had spent himself, everyone had gone and the sun was low in the sky. He stood and looked around, saw a shovel leaning against a tree, took it up and stood next to the hole. Some moments or hours later, a workman, an old black man he’d seen around town but had never spoken to, appeared at his side, and with more kindness than the man thought possible, said, here, let me do that.

The professor shook his head, saying no, he had to do it, but all he could do sink back to his knees and resume weeping, holding on to the shovel for balance. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up expecting to see the old man, but instead found the face of the girl, the student.

He felt her hand on his arm, urging him to his feet. He could not comprehend why she was there, what she wanted, but he stood willingly nonetheless. He let go of the shovel, allowing it to fall to the ground. She took his hand, beckoned him to follow. He hesitated but then complied, allowing her to lead him into the gathering darkness.

Al McDermid:

Here’s a well-stated, strong argument in favor of self-publishing. If you’re new writer, there simply are no good reasons to go with a traditional publishing house. That’s right. Zero. Zip. Nada. self-publish, expressed very well.

Originally posted on Writerz Block Editing Service Presents: A Word to the Wise:

Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War.

I’ve been wracking my brain all damned day about the new dramatics facing Amazon.  The more I research indie publishing versus legacy publishing, the more inclined I am to urge fledgling authors to consider publishing independently.  I also advise all authors to follow Barry Eisler, one of the most respected traditional to indie published authors I know.

I met Barry on Myspace roughly ten years ago.  At the time, I didn’t know who he was-I was just networking and ran across him by chance.  I was shocked to find that this NYT Bestseller actually talked openly and directly to me-not something that had ever happened to me before.  It was nice, too-talking to a real live human and not a cursory exchange that I would otherwise expect from a famed author.

After I started speaking with him on occasion about writing, I…

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The divine winds were still, so the pitiless roar of enemy bombers was drowned out only by the desperate wail of the air raid sirens. From the faintest purr of the first enemy plane until the last bomb fell, the world was noise, nothing but noise; the sirens would scream, the engines would roar, the bombs would fall, but fall somewhere else.

That morning started as all others, but it was not; three planes the radio said, so it could not be a raid. Only one was seen. It sounded almost lonely. Had it gotten lost, separated from the other planes, on their way to deal death to some other city? Would it deliver its death dealers here? At 8 o’clock, the ‘all clear’ sounded.

In a flash, the sun came to earth, followed by darkness. The bomb brought no fire, but small fires, started by stoves and fallen wires, ignited here and there, feed on the rubble of the collapsed, wooden city, swept by the bomb-born wind.

And above the destruction that signature cloud rose, towered miles above, like the shadow of a colossus, or of some monstrous god. In its wake, the menacing echo of silence.


“The Menacing Echo of Silence” first appeared originally at 52/250 A Year of Flash ( The  details herein were gleaned from John Hersey’s Hiroshima.


The Merrill Diaries, by my friend, Susan Tepper

My first impression of Merrill is that she is a woman on a quest or an odyssey, though that would imply a goal of some sort; apparently Merrill’s goal is to simply go. Go, and keep going.

At the beginning of Merrill’s journey we find her in a dead-end marriage to Teddy, who seems a decent enough guy, good looking, but clueless; he doesn’t like Merrill bringing up that “stupid women lib stuff” that she gets from that “commie magazine” called Ms.(yeah, they are clearly not living in the same reality). She’s also working at the perfect dead-end job, a “freaking travel agency,” that leaves her envious of her customers: “even the lowly student with a cheap Eurail pass.”

What’s a girl to do? Join a rock band, what else?

Merrill’s view of the world seems zany at times (“I won’t dye my crotch,” I whisper in his ear.), but what I find irresistible is her courage. Despite missing the aqua walls of their house, she leaves Teddy (It’s not like he didn’t have it coming after inviting the spies and their devil dog Mungo to share their house) for Eddie, the lead guitarist in the band she joins (“It’s blasting idyllic for a week, until it comes time to do the laundry.”).

Speaking of Teddy, she writes, “his gray vision forming a gray life. I take no responsibility in this outcome!” This is what I love most about Merrill; other people are responsible for their own lives and, as the story progresses, we see that Merrill holds herself to the same standard. Her successes, blunders, and mishaps are hers (even when others have a clear hand in the troubles).

Not surprisingly, the singing gig doesn’t pan out (the place she shares with Eddies burns down) and so it’s off to London to sell truffles as Merrill Kimberly and marry well, only to also leave him and go to Greece in time for the revolution. And so Merrill goes, and goes, and goes. I love a girl who is not afraid to put the wind at her back

Besides Merrill herself, I also enjoy how Tepper has constructed a unified whole of the thirty stand-alone chapters that make up The Merrill Diaries. It is an intriguing, seamless (zipless?) read that keeps us wondering, what will this girl get up to next? While reading it I was perpetually smiling and frequently laughing out loud thanks to Tepper’s wit and timing.

If someone called one of my books “a delight,” I’d probably turn snarky and ask, “What is that, a dessert?” Merrill herself might ask, “Me? A delight? You must have me confused.” But what can I say, The Merrill Dairies IS a delight, as is its eponymous irrepressible heroine. As one other reviewer noted, “I want more of Merrill!”