Author Interview: Derek Power


I began writing in early 2001, mainly focusing on short stories. After winning the odd contest here and there I figured I would try and write something a little longer. A few false starts later I managed to complete my first novel, titled Filthy Henry: The Fairy Detective, in early 2013.

I currently live in Skerries, Dublin, Ireland.

Tell us about your Filthy Henry Series. Are there more books to come?

The Filthy Henry series is a fantasy-comedy series that follows the adventures of Filthy Henry, Ireland’s first and foremost fairy detective. He is a half-human, half-fairy who has to work magical cases in modern day Ireland that involve the mortal and magical worlds colliding. Each book is a self-contained story, based of one of the many myths and legends from Ireland’s Celtic roots. Such as in the first novel Filthy Henry has to find out who stole the King of the Leprechauns crock of gold.

At the minute the series is five books long, with some short stories appearing in various anthologies or on a podcast here and there (I think at last count there are seven short stories involving Filthy Henry or one of his supporting cast). There are more books to come as well, I have two novels planned out – usually I am two novels ahead in terms of books planned once I start doing the edits on the current book I am writing. Helps to keep me in a mode of constantly writing.

What project(s) are currently working on?

Currently I am working on something, as Monty Python would say, a little different. I have primarily written fantasy, comedy-fantasy and even dabbled in sci-fi recently with my novel Duplex Tempus. So to test my writing muscles I decided to work on a series novel. While all my other books could fall under the generic label of ‘crime’, they are crime plus something else. My current novel, Blood Knight – working title, is a crime novel that is firmly set in the real world without any of the ‘get out of jail free’ cards that fantasy or sci-fi give a writer.

When and why did you decide to publish?

Back in 2012 I had just finished my first Filthy Henry novel, Filthy Henry: The fairy detective, and I was shopping it around to agents and publishers alike. I had hired an editor to polish my final draft, which was draft number ten, and each weekend was spent seeing who was open for submissions and sending it off. I still find it surprising that in 2012 submissions had to be done via snail-mail and paper print outs mostly, very few were taking emails and pdfs.

Anyway long story short I got rejected every time with no feedback from anyone. Then a publisher with Penguin explained to me that the industry was going through a bit of a shock because the Kindle was doing to books what the iPod had done to the music industry. He suggested that I go down the indie publishing road, get a name for myself that way, then come back.

So that’s what I did.

It sounds like humor is a major part of your writing. Does that come natural for you or do you have to work at it?

Many moons ago, before kids and a mortgage and a job that worked me 80 hours a week, I would do standup comedy as a hobby. I think I did it for about four years, with regular gigs. In school I was a bit of a class clown. In life in general I am probably too sarcastic for my own good. So, the humour part of writing does come naturally for me. But I also constantly second guess if what I am writing is funny or not. After all who laughs at their own jokes. So, when I ask my wife to read a chapter I have just written, and she starts laughing I immediately ask what part she is laughing at. It annoys her so much that now she leaves the room to read in peace.

What is your favorite aspect of writing? What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I am a plotter over a pantser any day of the week, and I really enjoy plotting out a book. I usually have an outline of the plot, including the major points each chapter should cover, that runs into ten or fifteen pages. It can be fun doing that stuff as it is like starting a new drawing on a blank sheet of paper. I often tell people as well that my plots can change as I am writing. Maybe an idea appears mid draft that I like or something that I have in the plot notes just doesn’t work anymore so I drop it. I remember telling a writing buddy of mine that this happened and he was amazed, he never thought of doing the same himself.

Editing the drafts after draft 1 is what kills me. I know it has to be done. There will be typos and plotholes. Sections that need to be tweaked to read better. It is all work that has to be done, needs to be done, but when you get into draft seven or eight you eyes feel blurry. I heard a great phrase recently that sums up my feelings on it nicely. You never really finish writing a book, you just decide you can’t be bothered doing any more editing and settle on the current draft being the final one.

What writing advice has been the most beneficial for you?

Write every day, without fail, no matter what day it is. People often look at a book and think that something 100k words is a mountain that can never be climbed. But if you wrote 1000 words a day, or 500, or 100, that mountain gets smaller. So, write every day. As a much more famous author said – you don’t call yourself a write if you only do it every so often. You need to write and read every day.

What is your strangest writing quirk?

I’m not sure if I have a writing quirk, actually. I write daily, I do the editing, it’s all very ‘boring’ in terms of quirks. I suppose I do have one rule that I stick too – no fun if the daily wordcount hasn’t been hit first. As I do all of my writing in the evenings, once the kids are in bed, I will make sure to get words written in the morning if I am meeting friends at night. But no games are played or shows watched if the words have not been written. Otherwise that 100k mountain will be forever out of reach.

If money were no object, what would you do for the rest of your life?

I’d write Filthy Henry until my last day, passing from this world into the next with an unfinished book. When I was younger I always wanted to be a writer but I was talked into getting a ‘real’ job. But yes, if the millions magically appeared in my bank account tomorrow I’d be writing Filthy Henry, or whatever book I could think of, and never question my choice.

When not writing, what do you like to do for fun?

I have a collection of hobbies. When not writing I do play computer games, despite being in my 40s I find them a nice escape from the real world stress. Watching shows, in particular sci-fi, and then of course any good writer is an avid reader.

What does success look like for you as an author?

Reviews anywhere that say people enjoyed my writing. I am not in it for the money (although that would be nice) but I find myself checking daily for new reviews on any books to see if people enjoyed the story. While stars are good, reviews with a few lines are the best. If anyone reading this does go on to read one of the books, don’t forget to leave a review.

Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

Some of the books and short stories in the Filthy Henry series are freely available as a podcast on any podcast platform. Simply search for Filthy Henry and you will find them.


Book Locations

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April 2023 Storytime Blog Hop

Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

This is the 10th installment of GRIT’s adventure. To start at the beginning for context, start with Grim Failure.

Earthquake Aftermath

Shortly after the collectors left with the captured souls (all 23 of them, yea us!), the aftermath committee arrived to investigate what had happened. We knew their primary job was to decide where to assign fault. We had been ordered to stay put until we could be debriefed.

While the aftermath committee examined the scene and asked the reapers general questions about the earthquake, timing, and overall setting prior to, during, and after the event, one by one we were taken away to debrief with committee members as they wrapped up their investigation or collectors who returned from their soul deliveries. It was a slow, boring process and since I was still in training, I was the last one chosen.

Once alone, I considered slinking away. I mean, could I possibly make my situation any worse? I had consistently failed in one way or another but my ineptness peaked. Maybe I would have been better off if we hadn’t been rescued. At lease in Hades I wouldn’t have to see the look of disappointment on my parents’ faces when they learned I had been kicked out of the reaper program. In Hades I wouldn’t have to face the embarrassment of my failures. I wish the collectors would have rescued Samantha but not me.

At least I could try and help Samantha. Administration needed to know that she was put in an impossible situation. One of the other reapers had failed and lost track of their souls who then joined Samantha’s collection and overwhelmed her. Without my testimony they might get away with it or worse, pass the blame to Samantha. She had tried to encourage me so I felt like I owed it to her to speak the truth. That is, if my testimony was worth anything at this point.

One of the committee members approached. It was time to face what I had done.

“I’ll take this one.”

My heart sank at Stan’s gruff voice

While I hadn’t expected to get a sympathetic ear, with Stan interviewing me I would be on the defensive the whole time. He knew more about my failures than anyone.

Neither of us spoke until we were comfortably sitting in one of the interview rooms. They used to be called interrogation rooms but administration thought the name carried strong negative connotations so they changed it a few years ago.

The name change wouldn’t affect what was about to happen to me. I could see disdain written all over Stan’s face.

“You left your assigned souls after securing them, ignored protocol in the midst of a dangerous situation, and got yourself captured…all while being on probation. Did I miss anything?”

Yeah, Stan wasn’t biased toward me at all. I didn’t stand a chance. Maybe at least I could keep Samantha out of trouble. “What happened—it wasn’t her fault. Samantha. Those souls were evil and she should never have been assigned three of them on her own. Plus someone failed and their souls ganged up on Samantha.”

“You’re saying that none of this is your fault?”

“Yes. No. I mean, all the things you said are true. It’s just that Samantha, she didn’t do anything wrong and I don’t want her to get in trouble for someone else’s mistake.”

Stan leaned forward and leered at me, his glare even more distrusting than before, if that were possible. “You want me to believe that you’re more concerned about her welfare than yours?”

“Oh, I’m concerned about my situation. Very much. It’s just, I realize I can’t do anything to help myself. Maybe I can help her by making sure you know the truth.”

I swear he hadn’t looked away nor blinked in two minutes. It was disconcerting and I felt my eyes starting to burn thinking about it.

“This next part doesn’t leave this room, okay?” He waited for me to agree before continuing. “Do you know that her family has a lot of influence?”

I nodded

“And do you know who that is?”

Was Stan testing me or fishing for information? Was I putting her at risk by acknowledging her family’s influence? “No, she didn’t say.”

“And you didn’t ask?” he said incredulously.

He blinked! Finally. I shifted nervously though because his gaze still bore into me.

“No. But I don’t think they can help her with this because she said her uncle is only a collector like you. No offense,” I added when he grunted. I didn’t bother to explain; I couldn’t do anything at this point to earn his favor.

Stan leaned back but didn’t relax. He watched me as if considering my statement.

Finally, he turned on the recorder, which I found odd since we hadn’t talked about anything particularly secretive to this point. Was he concerned about Samantha’s family or about the danger he could put them in?

“I want you to tell me everything that happened from the moment you arrived at the collection site. And give me a timeframe as best you can.”

The only time Stan interrupted my story was to ask clarifying questions. He drilled for every detail, especially those relating to my abandoning my couple and the proceeding activities. I was condemning myself with my testimony. I could only hope it would help Samantha. Stan didn’t give me any indication one way or the other.

When we finished, Stan stood. He didn’t thank me, he didn’t chastise me; he didn’t even look at me. His parting words deflated what little hope I had that my reaper career might survive. “I’ll make sure you get what you deserve.”

The only question running through my head as the administration building faded behind was How long until they take action against me?


My mind flashed back to the collapsed building and the evil souls clutching Samantha and I cringed the sound of her desperate voice.


The cry got louder, which made me stop. The third time I heard it I realized it wasn’t coming from my memory but from the present; behind in increasing volume.

I turned at the sound of rapid footsteps, quickly coming to a halt. As she gasped to catch her breath, Samantha stared, studying my face with a similar intensity and insight as Stan. Did she think I was a failure too?

“I’m glad I caught you. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t thanked you for saving me.”

She gave me a hug, and not one of those polite, obligatory hugs. She squeezed me with a genuine appreciation. I felt her shake before I heard the sobs. At that point I felt obligated to hug her back, hold her while she let out the tension held since the traumatic experience of facing an eternity in Hades. We cried together. I felt her emotion; bonded by the same fear. We had faced the same horrifying fate and had somehow escaped.

When we finished, we both wiped snot on our sleeves. I looked into her puffy eyes, swollen and red like the rest of her face, flushed with anxiety and relief. I was sure I looked as much of a mess as she.

Her mouth turned into a smile. “Thank you GR. If you hadn’t intervened when you did I would be in Hades and no one would even know.”

I didn’t do anything, really. “We got lucky. Lucky the collectors and backup arrived when they did. Otherwise we might be…” I didn’t have the courage to say it out loud. The thought made me shudder.

“They wouldn’t have arrived in time to save me if you hadn’t helped.”

“I appreciate it, and I hope you have a successful career as a reaper. What happened today wasn’t your fault and I made sure the committee knew it in my debriefing.”

She kissed me on the cheek. “If there’s anything I can ever do for you…I owe you my life.”

It was an exaggeration. Instead of rescuing her I had gotten myself caught. Still, it was nice to hear, especially with what would soon happen to me.

“You can’t help me. All I ever wanted to do was be a reaper. At least I can say I gave it a shot.”

And with that, I walked slowly home.

Continue reading GRIT’s adventures:

GRIT – Part 1
GRIT – Part 2
GRIT – Part 3
GRIT – Part 4
GRIT – Part 5
GRIT – Part 6
GRIT – Part 7
GRIT – Part 8
GRIT – Part 9

Check out the other stories in the blog hop and leave us comments.

The Gynnos Seeker Project by Juneta Key

Cursed by Barbara Lund

A Different Kind of Raise by Amy Keeley

Night At The Museum by Vanessa Wells

Flowers For Angela by Curtis Phills

Ninea by Chris Makowski

Archive by Gina Fabio

Royal Assassin by Vanessa Finaughty

The Big Bad Wolf and the Easter Hare by Katharina Gerlach

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Get your free copy of Maybe I Should Have Hit the Delete Key!

In celebration of writing a column in the Harvey County Independent/Harvey Count Now newspaper, I want to share a gift. Click on the picture below to get a free digit copy of the book. There is no obligation or signup required. Please consider leaving a review on Amazon if you enjoy. Thank you!

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Author Interview: Hannah-Louise Smith


Lover of books, tea and fantasy. Hannah-Louise Smith currently has two published books, loves reading, and has a Siberian husky called Logan

Tell us about your books, Awakening and Darkness.

They are urban fantasy novels based on Greek mythology and are part of the Mythics and mortals trilogy. The trilogy centers around our main character Christina Jones as she builds a whole new life for herself, finding both friends and family on the way and gets to the bottom of some very dark plots.

How is book three in the trilogy coming along? When can readers expect it to be available?

So far I have an outline and the first chapter done. I’m currently working on a separate project so everyone can expect the final book to be released in 2024.

Do you know what you want to write when you complete the trilogy?

I have loads of ideas for books.

When/why did you start writing? Why did you decide to publish?

I started writing during the first lockdown in 2020 as a way to keep sane and decided to publish because I wanted people to read my book.

What is your favorite aspect of writing? What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I love the writing and seeing my story unfold but I hate the editing.

What is the best advice you have received that improved your writing?

Follow the flow. If you don’t have the focus to write, don’t force it.

Do you have any writing quirks?

I picture how things will turn out like a film. It’s handy to picture the scene as you write it.

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve written? Tell us about him/her.

My favorite character is Christina Jones. She a really strong woman who would do anything to protect her friends and family, we see a lot of that in the second book.

What do you like to do for fun?

I like to read. I have a massive to be read pile that’s slowly taking over my room.

What does success look like for you as an author?

For me, it’s seeing my books on amazon  and knowing that people all over the world can read them

Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

I have loads of ideas for books so keep watching for more books.

Book Locations: amazon

Excerpt: Website

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Journeys into Possibility

Now that the past few years are behind us it’s time to come out and play! Are you ready to go on a journey to a place you have never been before? What would you like to do? Maybe a swim with dolphins, meet strange new creatures, or see John Dillinger behind bars? You could take a trip through time, visit a new planet, or hop on a train worn with memories. The possibilities are just a page away.

So, strap in and get comfortable as we travel into the imaginative realm of possibilities. Together, we will journey into all things possible and impossible. Once you’ve been there and back again, you won’t be quite the same.

Your copy is just one click away!

Amazon (paperback)




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Author Interview: Michael Young


Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governors University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, Educational Leadership and Instructional Design. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and their three children, where he creates online curriculum for BYU. He enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, the Chess Quest Series and the Penultimate Dawn Cycle (The Hunger), as well as several non-fiction works, including An Advent Carols Countdown, The Song of the Righteous, As Saints We Sing, and The Song of the Saints. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, Nugent Magazine, The New Era, Keeping Tab, Allegory, Liahona, and Ensign. He has also won honorable mention three times in the Writers of the Future contest.

Amazon says you have 32 titles currently listed including both fiction and nonfiction. Are you currently promoting a specific book/series or your writings in general?

One thing I’m focusing on right now are the new audiobook versions of my books that are coming out. The first four are already out with most of the other ones on the way sometime this year. I’m especially excited about the audiobook version of “A Wonderful Day for a Quest”, which is a novelization of a musical I’m writing. The narrator does an incredible job with all the quirky characters, and it’s just a delight to listen to.

Is there a certain theme, themes, or idea that connects your work? Do you have favorite topic to write about?

I’ve always liked redemption stories and those based on unlikely friends who come together to overcome something together. I also enjoy adding historical elements to my books. I did this a lot with my Canticle Kingdom series, which is set during World War II.

Your bio states that you have degrees in German Teaching, Music, Educational Leadership, and Instructional Design. When and why did you start writing? And how did you find time to write?

I started writing seriously when I was in high school, and though I’m very busy, I make time to write a little each day as a way to relieve stress. I use my time on the weekends to do a little more, and I find that it is the small, consistent efforts that add up to finished projects over time. I have worked as a teacher, but now I’m doing instructional design, which uses a lot of my writing and teaching skills together, and so I find it fulfilling.

Do you prefer to write fiction or nonfiction? Why?

They both feel different, but I like writing them both. I think at my core, my first love is fiction because it allows me the most room to be creative. But I also enjoy the things that I learn when researching non-fiction. I get to find out things I would never has stumbled across otherwise.

Do you have a favorite book or series that you’ve written?

I’m especially happy with the Penultimate Dawn series that starts with “The Hunger” and goes on with “The Thirst” and “The Longing.” The main character was a ton of fun to write and poured a lot of myself into him. I really like how the world turned out, and I had a lot of fun writing the magic system. I hope more people will check it out!

What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?

Don’t just wait around once you’ve submitted something. Send something off and then get started right away on something else. Always be working on something, because nothing in publishing goes quickly.


Book Locations: All the purchase links are on www.authormichaelyoung/purchase. (Available on and some of them on

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Author Interview: Tiffany Nicole Terry


TNT is a corporate communications manager by day, an indie novelist by night, and a mother every moment in between. A bit of a bohemian nomad, she has lived in every time zone in the continental United States but prefers to live where she can see mountains on the horizon.

She is passionate about equality, diversity, and inclusion, and believes that the world can be a kinder and more sustainable place. Her books are full of positive empowerment messaging for girls, especially those raised through trauma, neglect, and abuse.

Tell us about your young adult fantasy trilogy, Sister Worlds.

Three girls who have experienced different forms of childhood trauma, come together and form a friendship, a sisterhood, as they protect their worlds from the men, machines, and monsters determined to destroy everything in the name of power.

You also have three children’s books. Tell us about those.

Also available on Amazon, I came up with these stories while I was going through a painful divorce, and my kids and I were in a new home, a new state, with lots of changes.

The Princess King was to fight against the stereotype that you need to be married (as a woman) in order to take care of your kingdom and people. I became a single mom, and it was a story to help my kids know that I can do this without a husband.

Freya, the Lonely Dragon, is about being different and trying to fit in through being kind to others. Since my kids were in a new place, new school, it was important for them to have a story about how to make friends by having a good heart.

The Persistent Tree is about a tree growing up in a barren land. The tree is strong and brave, even though she fights alone through harsh weather. One day, she finally has a small grove of trees around her. This book symbolized that no matter where we go, we can persevere and grow up a family around us.

When and why did you start writing?

I probably started noticing an affinity and love for it back in elementary school. I had a wild, vivid, imagination and was always making up stories, a.k.a. lies. I was told the story of the boy who cried wolf many, many times. But I couldn’t help getting lost in daydreams. Then I just started trying to write them all down.

Your bio says you are a corporate communications manager. How did you go from there to publishing books?

I wasn’t brave or confident enough to try and survive off writing books, so I started working in the corporate world. I became the ‘writer’ of the office and organically grew into a professional writing career. I always wanted to write books, but my story wasn’t complete in my head until around 2019. Then I finally got focused on writing and self-publishing my first trilogy.

You are very honest and vulnerable in your bio. Briefly share who your books are written for.

As part of my healing process from ending familial patterns of narcissistic abuse, they were for me. You have to put your oxygen mask on first. They are for my daughters, to show them the importance of accomplishing your dreams. And they are especially for any girls or young women out there experiencing a form of abuse who want to read about characters finding their truth, finding their strength, and breaking free from patterns of abuse.

I try to write clean, non-triggering stories, where girls make good choices.

Do you have a favorite time and/or place you like to write?

If I didn’t need to wake up early for work and school, I would definitely stay up and write into the night. Alas, I usually try to get some in right after work, and some after dinner, before bedtime. I work and write in my home office, on an L-shaped desk. One side is for work, one is for writing.

Do you have any odd writing quirks?

Is needing a glass of wine or whiskey a writing quirk? Having dogs sleeping below my feet is also a big plus.

What book project are you currently working on? Do you have plans to publish more books?

I am working on a couple ideas. One is a loose Rapunzel retelling, where a young woman comes out of an abusive family situation to claim her rightful place as heir.

If money were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?

I would be in a cabin overlooking a lake and mountain view, fireplace burning, cupcakes baking, spending my days reading and writing, and my nights entertaining friends and family.

What does success look like for you as an author?

I think you are successful if you achieve a goal. I had a goal to write and get my books out there, and I did. The next step would be to sell enough books to be able to write full-time and make that my new career.

Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

Take care of yourself first. Caring about yourself is not selfish. Read books by authors who create the kind of world you want to live in and the characters you want to believe in. And please, stop chasing the bad boys.


BookLocations: Amazon, Barns n Noble. The trilogy is available for .99 cents each on Kindle.


She readied her bow, took one step toward the edge of the trees, and froze.  Crouched in the clearing beyond her was a monster with glistening emerald scales.  It gracefully lifted its long, slender neck, and turned its jet-black eyes to hers.

Every muscle ached to run, but KaLeah couldn’t connect the thoughts to the motion.  Her eyes widened to take in the creature’s massive body and muscular arms as it rose higher on its back legs.  She saw the beast’s muscular arms ended in long, black talons were coated in grass and clumps of mud. 

It had thin, dagger-like spikes along the side of its green scaly head.  The long, pointed snout was shut but revealed sharp teeth poking out through each side. 

A bead of sweat started to roll down the side of KaLeah’s head. 

The creature blew a chunk of mud from its snout.  The noise was so sudden KaLeah jolted and released the arrow she’d been holding tightly docked.  It flew and hit the beast right in the chest, bouncing off its scales and landing on the ground. 

She quickly jerked herself back and dove behind the nearest tree, dropping her bow to the ground.  Her breath came heavy and uneven as she tried to keep from making any noise. 

Is that a dragon? she asked herself.  That cannot be a dragon.  Dragons are extinct.  I’m dreaming.  I must have fallen along the path and hit my head on a rock.  KaLeah made an involuntary whimper, knowing she was most certainly not dreaming. 

Most of the animals on Naldash had evolved from dragons, but dragons themselves had been extinct for many lifetimes. 

She clenched her eyelids shut and reminded herself to breathe.  Her father had taught her in any sort of panic-inducing situation, she must keep breathing steadily to keep her mind clear.  A clear mind is more likely to survive in any situation.

But how do I survive a non-existent dragon?  Is it a ghost?  A phantom? 

She took another deep breath, smoothed a loose strand of brown hair behind her ear, and then cautiously leaned out around the tree trunk for another view. 

The monstrous beast was still standing there in the small clearing.  Its long neck trailed down to a spine-lined back, past a set of silvery transparent wings, and ended in a tail.  It beat open the two wings, stirring up the dirt around it, then pulled them back close to its body and continued digging furiously at a small hill in the middle of the clearing.

KaLeah tilted her head curiously, realizing the sound she had followed was the sound of the dragon clawing into the ground.  It had seen her and yet was much more interested in what it was doing.

Is it trying to get at an animal or digging out a burrow?  Did dragons even live in burrows?  She shook her head violently, what was she thinking?  Dragons.  Are.  Not.  Real.

This is crazy, she said to herself.  She realized it didn’t matter what it was or what it was doing.  It was still a dangerous-looking, beast-like creature, mere steps away. 

I need to get away, now.  I’ll grab my bow and quickly head back through the thicker part of the woods where it will be too big to follow; unless it can break trees, of course.

KaLeah visualized the plan in her head, building up the courage to move.  She began to prepare for a stealthy escape through the woods, bending first to reclaim her bow when… 


She froze mid-bend, fingers on the bow.  She had heard the word as if placed inside her mind. 


Again, the word penetrated her mind, moving her own thoughts aside.  Had the dragon just spoken to her?  She formed the question in her mind.  Are you talking to me?


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January 2023 Storytime Blog Hop

Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

This is the 9th installment of GRIT’s adventure. To start at the beginning for context, start with Grim Failure.

Cataclysmic Disaster

Reapers are required to arrive ten minutes early to their assigned death, or deaths in this case. My training instructor recommended twenty minutes, thirty while in training…just in case.

I arrived at the scene of the coming earthquake an hour early and floated from room to room in the seven-story resort hotel located next to a beach full of swimmers, tanners, and party-goers.

I located my couple sipping champagne in a large in-room whirlpool. I ached to warn them to find a safe location outside of the hotel. The collapse of the building this afternoon will kill the twenty-six persons on the about-to-die list. It could have been worse. Most of the rooms were empty; their residents probably enjoying the beach and the sun.

In the lobby, the other reapers gathered. Eleven in total. I dreaded the prospect of trying to huddle two souls, especially with my career on the line, but I was also grateful I wasn’t one of the poor saps who had to gather three.

The worst part was that I couldn’t expect any help.

I think one of the other reapers, a confident girl a few years older than me, noticed my anxiety.

“Your first cataclysmic death?”

“It’s the obvious?”

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

At that I burst into laughter and it felt wonderful. “My name’s G.R.”

“I’m Samantha. They don’t usually give a reaper still in training a multiple collection. Did you make someone mad in scheduling?”

Everyone. “Let’s just say that I could use a friend in upper management.

“It shouldn’t make a difference but I have an uncle that helps me out. He won’t admit it, but there have been some situations that I believe he stepped in on my behalf.”

“Sounds like a good guy,” I said, a little jealous.

We floated up from the lobby and Samantha stopped on the third floor. “This is my stop. I wish I could help you but as know this is going to be a challenging collection and I’ve got three of my own to round up.”

I guess her uncle didn’t step in for this assignment.

I found my couple in their seventh floor suite, lying together in bed, her head on his chest and both asleep.

It was a good thing that Samantha distracted me because now I didn’t have time to warn the couple. As soon as I entered their room everything started shaking. Within a few seconds the couple sat up, their eyes wide as they held each other tight.

The shaking quickly grew worse and when plaster fell from the ceiling the woman screamed. Her husband held her hand and led her into the bathroom where they huddled in the now empty Jacuzzi.

It wasn’t clear to me how they would die until suddenly the floor gave way and they plummeted down with a full Jacuzzi following from above.

In total they must have fallen three or three and a half stories before coming to a rest, buried beneath tons of rubble. The shaking stopped and I had to float through gaps and openings before I found the mangled, unrecognizable bodies of the couple.

I was near a panic because in the few seconds it took me to locate them, their souls had time flee and I didn’t have a great history of chasing down escaping souls. How would I ever capture both? But I had to or else. I didn’t want to think about or else.

Just before I shot up through the rubble to see if I could locate the direction they left, I heard a calm, quiet voice. “Are you here for us?”

I turned to see the couple’s souls holding each other and looking grief stricken at their dead bodies.

Relief overwhelmed any sympathy I might have otherwise had.

“You didn’t run!” I shouldn’t have sounded so excited when they were trying to come to grips with the fact that they were dead, but the words came without a thought.

“We’re together, and that’s all that matters,” the husband said.

This was fantastic because it meant I would keep my job and maybe collecting two souls at once would help get me off of probation. I might even pass my training period.

“I need to take you—”

A scream rang out from below and I recognized the voice. Samantha.

I darted down but caught myself and stopped. I looked back at my assignment, the two love birds waiting. Maybe I could deliver them first and then help Samantha.

But then another desperate scream rang out from a little father away the best I could tell and I shouted at my collection. “Stay here! I’ll be right back!”

I float into the lobby just in time to see Samantha fighting multiple souls. They disappeared so quickly I didn’t have time to count.

I followed and when I saw five angry, vile souls ganging up on a lone reaper I yelled, “Stop!” As if I had the authority.

The souls paused but only long enough to curse and tell me to mind my own business. I had at least delayed them, but what could I do to help? And what reaper was responsible for the other souls that had joined Samantha’s collection?

I wanted to go for help. The souls entrapping Samantha were evil and no doubt trying to drag her to Hades with them. I had read about instances like this during our training sessions but the instances where a reaper gets overwhelmed by multiple souls is rare, especially since we unionized and bargained for extra safety measures to prevent situations like this one.

Our training instructor warned us to only engage with adequate backup. The manual stated the proper response to this situation is to get help. There wasn’t time to go for help. If I left, I would simply be filling out paperwork to document what had happened. Once the souls had Samantha in Hades, they would be there forever.

And I didn’t want to join them.

I didn’t want to end up in Hades.

“G.R. Help! Please!”

But I couldn’t ignore Samantha. “Let her go.” I tried to yell but it barely came out audible. I cleared my throat to try again but couldn’t make myself heard over the raucous laughter of the souls. Not only did I fail to help Samantha but I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of her. At least she wouldn’t be around to ever tell anyone.

What kind of thinking was that? If I had time I would be ashamed of myself.

I rushed forward, demanding they let her go. When I flew by without stopping they quieted and anger replaced their laughter. 

Only the worst characters want to drag a reaper to Hades and bypass processing. How did this many evil souls end up together? Maybe the mob had a convention at the hotel. Or maybe it was a time share seminar.

I thought if I could get them to chase then I could lure them outside to where the reapers were handing off their souls to the collectors. It seemed like a good idea. It was my only idea.

Unfortunately, before I cleared the ceiling of the lobby, two souls had me in their grasp. I was now useless.

The realization hit me that I would soon be in Hades. I wanted to cry but I held it together—too ashamed to further embarrass myself. I would have plenty of time to cry in Hades. Exactly forever. My vanity was ridiculous, especially in light of my dire situation. I’m not proud; only honest.

Samantha screamed as if that would do any good. I joined her.

“Shut up you fools!” One of the nasty souls roared.

Another shouted, “Let’s get them to Hades so we don’t have to listen to them any longer.”

Just then the couple I had left alone to come after Samantha appeared (descended) from the ceiling along with Stan. It was the first time I had been glad to see Stan and I secretly hoped the scowl on his face was directed toward the souls and not toward me. It was probably both.

If I avoided Hades, I would certainly have to pay for my actions with Administration. Not only had I abandoned my two assigned souls, but I had gotten myself captured and now had probably put Stan and the couple at risk. So much for my job.

“Let the Reapers go and come with me,” Stan ordered.

His tone frightened me and I would have obeyed, but the evil souls just laughed as if this were some kind of game. Stan’s scowl grew meaner, if that was possible.

Do you really think you can over power us, Reaper boy?” one of the souls asked.

“Maybe, maybe not.”

Just then a dozen more reapers and collectors flew into the room and surrounded the vile souls.

“But I think you’re outnumbered now.”

They quickly gathered the souls and the collectors took them away for processing.

Continue reading GRIT’s adventures:

GRIT – Part 1
GRIT – Part 2
GRIT – Part 3
GRIT – Part 4
GRIT – Part 5
GRIT – Part 6
GRIT – Part 7
GRIT – Part 8
GRIT – Part 9

Check out the other stories in the blog hop and leave us comments.

Fiddle of Gold by Barbara Lund Author
The Origin of a Reluctant Supervillain by Vanessa Wells
Help Wanted by Juneta Key
Fishing Expedition by Laurie Hicks
The Deed by Chris Makowski
Fetching Water by Katharina Gerlach

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November 2022 Storytime Blog Hop

Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

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This is the 8th installment of GRIT’s adventure. To start at the beginning for context, start with Grim Failure.

Passing the Buck

Once again I paced nervously outside of the administration building waiting my fate—this time all alone and with no hope Shelia would arrive to comfort me.

In case I had misunderstood her message, her dad and seven brothers arrived just to circle me and explain what would happen if I ever had contact with her again. Trust me, I got the message.

Contrary to popular human belief, reapers aren’t eternal beings. That’s why we’re constantly training new recruits. We grow, we get old, and we die. But unlike humans we don’t have a soul that lives forever. When we die, we cease to exist.

There’s no danger to us when interacting in the human’s physical world; that’s why we make good reapers, or collectors of the souls. We can’t be harmed.

Reapers also can’t directly hurt each other.

So why did Shelia’s dad and brothers scare Hades out of me? Because there is one way that reapers live forever. If we are thrown into Hades before we die we will live forever, just like the human souls, in eternal torment.

I don’t understand how it works exactly, but they told us enough horror stories during our training sessions to convince me to avoid that route at all costs. All costs! That’s why when Shelia’s dad and brothers threatened to drag me to Hades, I vowed to never go near her again. I didn’t vow to them, I vowed to myself.

Stan had said he wanted to pin the whole fiasco with Daniel on Rick and I hoped he was serious. He didn’t seem like the type that would joke, ever, so I felt fairly confident that was his intention.

I still didn’t trust him though. How hard would he try? And I didn’t know if he had the persuasive powers to pull it off. How would Stan wield the kind of leverage to spin the story so a collector gets blamed instead of the reaper, especially a reaper in training? If it blew up in his face they might send us both to Hades. Why couldn’t I just follow the rules?

Finally Stan emerged with the scowl he always wore, which gave me no indication of the results of his meeting. Still, hope fluttered within when I saw he walked alone. Surely if we were in trouble he would be escorted or already locked up.

When Stan drew near his face broke into a wry smile. “You’re in the clear. They pinned the whole incident on Rick.”

My heart soared, and then crashed just as quickly. “What will happen to Rick?”

Stan waved his hand in an unconcerned manner. “That pompous windbag will be fine.”

I understood Stan’s disgruntled attitude toward his partner as I hadn’t seen much in Rick that I liked. But still, I didn’t want to see him thrown into Hades. Or fired. He was annoying and a stickler for rules, but he was good at his job.

Stan must have picked up on my concern and put my mind at ease. “Rick has a stellar record so they only demoted him.”

“I-I don’t understand. Why would they demote him for one mistake if he’s such a great employee?” This didn’t bode well for my own future.

“Like I said, he’s an arrogant prick. Nobody likes him.”

That didn’t sound fair. “So this was an excuse for them to punish him?”

“Welcome to the politics of Grim Reaper administration, kid.”

I appreciated what Stan had done for me but I didn’t like that it was at the expense of Rick.

Now for the scariest question. “What’s going to happen to me?”

“I have your next assignment.”

I threw my hands in the air, screamed, and then threw my arms around Stan. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

He wrestled away and I saw his fist ball up. I ducked and covered my head and waited for the impact that never came.

“Get up you big sissy. I’m not going to hit you. I don’t like physical contact and you’re hugging is getting on my nerve is all.”

I offered him a fist bump instead but I guess it was too late as he glared at my hand like he could melt it with his eyes.

“You’re off the hook for Daniel, thanks to Rick,” Stan chuckled before continuing. “But you’re still on probation. And I won’t mince words, even though they blame Rick, you didn’t collect your last soul, again, and you’re on your last chance. Screw this up and it’s over for you, understand?”

“What’s the assignment,” I asked, hoping it was a reasonable task. I suddenly missed Shelia and her encouraging manner.

“An earthquake in two hours. Twenty-six dead.”

That sounds worse than it is. In situations where there are massive deaths, multiple reapers are assigned to work the scene because there’s no one way for one person to keep all those souls corralled and they can easily escape. This means there are others on hand to help me if I had any trouble.

“You have a newly married couple, Jerry and Annette.”

Newly married? How tragic. But two? I can’t even capture one soul and now they assigned me two.

“They’re on their honeymoon so they’ll probably stay together. Should be easy. Besides, some reapers were assigned three souls. Between retirements, vacations, and an extra high death rate today, administration is short handed.”

Oh no, everyone had several souls meant I wouldn’t be getting any help. I was in big trouble!

Continue reading GRIT’s adventures:

GRIT – Part 1
GRIT – Part 2
GRIT – Part 3
GRIT – Part 4
GRIT – Part 5
GRIT – Part 6
GRIT – Part 7
GRIT – Part 8
GRIT – Part 9

Check out the other stories in the blog hop and leave us comments.

Ark-Ship One by Katharina Gerlach

A Halloween Costume by Jodie Nahornoff

Midnight At Christmas by Juneta Key

I Do Believe In Faeries by Vanessa Wells

Summoning Spell by Jacquilyn Walker

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The Christmas Parade Miracle

Can a self-destructive addict right the wrongs of his life?

Don’s addictive and self-destructive lifestyle has left a long list of hurt and angry people, but he’s ready to turn a new leaf.

Four of the people he’s used and pushed aside—an alcoholic, a priest, a battered wife, and a jealous husband—are about to experience a few surprises during the annual Christmas parade.

Will Don manage to initiate a miracle that will not only change their lives but their eternities?


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