Category Archives: stories

The End For Now

Raze began as an experiment to write an ongoing, long-form story with minimal editing. It was an exercise in expressing a few thoughts and feelings I’ve carried with me for a long time, thinking about some of the things, the good and horror, that persist in the world and about which we read every day in the news, as we scroll past with our thumbs, as we struggle to take in all that’s happening and think of something, anything, to do. Often we do nothing. Often we scroll onward and forget at the next headline. Without getting too self-important, I’ve explored and expressed some of those things. I’ve done it for more than a year. I’ve shown myself that I can. But, for now, it’s time to say goodbye to Raze.

A Story Without an Conclusion

I know where Raze is going, and someday I wish to finish the journey. For now he’ll pause, his own pen above the page, but still he’ll grow and change and his story will take greater form. But, for now, its become clear to me that I can’t pursue my other aims while putting the time and effort into this one. That’s in part because there are very few weekly readers – so for those of you following along, know that I do plan to return to this story and finish it. I’m just not sure when.

Other Stories Await

I have far from the most difficult life, and this isn’t meant to sound like complaining. Things are good, but time, as it is for everyone, is finite. Other responsibilities keep my away from the page and keyboard far more than I’d like. If I want to reach the point where I can put the time into this endeavor that I’d like, I need to focus, and prioritize, and choose. For now, that means pursuing the novels I’ve written and getting the next one done. It means putting my mind toward the many tasks that follow after having written. And so, for that reason, I’m leaving RAZE for now. For anyone reading this, thanks. You’re not forgotten, and Raze will be back.

RAZE - a weekly fantasy web serial

My serial needs your vote!

Every vote counts

If you’ve been following RAZE (or if you haven’t), I could use your vote and your rating on This’ll help increase the visibility of my web series and get more readers. Just click here to cast your vote. Top Web Fiction and its sister site, Web Fiction Guide, are the premier place for readers of online serial fiction to find the best stories, all posted for free. Ranking will get me views, readers, and more votes.

I could also use your review. RAZE is listed at Wattpad and at Those links will take you to the appropriate place to drop a star rating and a couple of words. It would make a huge difference so I hope you can spare a couple of minutes.

Lastly, tell your friends! RAZE is a series of short entries, readable on any of your online devices through my site and through Wattpad. If you know someone who likes mature, adult takes on fantasy literature, RAZE might be there thing. That said…

About RAZE and “mature” material

RAZE is an ongoing, weekly epic fantasy web serial, a serious, character driven portrait of the greatest warrior the world has ever known, told from his holding cell before his execution at the hands of the woman he loves; a cell he chose; a cell in which he waits. To find out why, you have to get to know RAZE.

RAZE is also fairly dark thus far, and explores some mature themes that may prove upsetting to some. I’m of the opinion that fiction is the correct place to explore and understand things that frighten us, disturb us, or even things that have traumatized us. I think it’s the right place, both for myself and for many readers. It’s not everyone’s thing and readers looking for lighter entertainment may not be interested in this story. Of course I want RAZE to be entertaining, but it’s also an outlet for my own thoughts, concerns, fears, and wounds. All that said, and with my intentions being what they are, I also know that there’s room for improvement and better understanding in my own work. I hope anyone who reads and has thoughts about the work will let me hear those thoughts.

Thanks everyone.





I’m pleased to announce the beginning of a new project. RAZE is a fantasy fiction web serial I will be writing for free on my website,, and updating weekly. It is the story of RAZE, the self-proclaimed world’s greatest warrior. Born Heshim, the son of poor grain and poppy farmers, Raze is taken from his home and begins the journey of a lifetime, frought with violence and tragedy, but also love and a search for wisdom and purpose.

In a prison cell, held by the enemies who first set him on his journey, facing execution at the hands of the woman he loves, Raze tells of his life, his travels, the wisdom he gained, and how he came to be known as the one whose name means “to destroy completely.”

My name is Raze, but my name as it was given by my mother and father was Heshim il-Naban, and I have been called by many others in many lands. Raze is the name I have chosen for myself, after some thought and time, and it is the name by which I’ve come to be known. It is true. It is destruction, to completeness. It is unmaking.

I am greatest warrior the world has ever known.

Hear the tale of RAZE at

Share and tell your friends

Facebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail Facebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail

Seeking Beta Readers! Free short stories of mayhem and thievery!

Come on, kids…

I’ve got an exciting opportunity coming up here. I don’t want to say too much in case it doesn’t pan out, but I need your help! If you enjoy my writing, if you want to get a little more without committing to an entire novel, and you want to do me a HUGE favor…

I’ve got two short stories I’m polishing up at the moment. If you’d consider reading them both and filling out a pair of short questionnaires, basically telling me any problems and/or which of the two is your favorite, it would be a massive help. Please drop me a line if you’re interested at [email protected] or by signing up for emails if you haven’t already: 

You can also reach me via my facebook page or on Twitter. Thanks!



The Battle of Dol Guldur

"Oh, was this your water?"

“Oh, was this your water?”

People hate on the Hobbit films, and for sure, they had their problems. One thing I did like, though, was the expansion of the Necromancer/Dol Guldur storyline. I remember reading The Hobbit as a child and being very confused that there wasn’t more information on what Gandalf seemed to feel was a big enough deal to leave the quest for large portions of the book.

Check out this fan-edit of the Hobbit’s Dol Goldur sequences. It’s a really nicely done 40-minute mini-movie. Watching Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond, and GALADRI-FUCKING-EL (BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE AS THE DAWN, ETC.) lay some hate on the wraiths is badass.

Check out the original post on vimeo here:


Review – North American Lake Monsters

North American Lake Monsters: Stories

North American Lake Monsters, by Nathan Ballingrud

Dark tales, some haunting, some disturbing, some hopeful. These stories are of human monsters and the monstrousness of us, in us; the others, the monsters outside, often are the less horrific. You’ll go places you’d rather have avoided, but come out the better. Some of these will stay with me for years, visions that I’m thankful for even as I wish I would never have had them. Fantastically written, with beautiful use of imagery and deep, powerful emotion.


Free to Download Fiction Anthology “Through the Suffering of Others”

You want some free fiction? Check out Through the Suffering of Others, an anthology featuring established and up-and-coming writers, available for download here, at There’s nothing to sign up for or do except get yourself a whole bunch of great short stories and novellas. You just might find your new favorite author. The anthology also features my new original short work, “The High Red Country,” a tale of revenge that begins in fire and ends with – well, you’ll just have to read it.


A Virtuous Man

– a short story

Mr. Yazatha was virtuous man, or that’s what people said. Anyway, I didn’t really like him very much, even though I guess he took care of me.


Mr. Yazatha was slender and tall, and spent a lot of time and money on his looks. He shaved his head because he had no caste-scars, since he came from a good family. He wore copper coils all down his arms, except on special occasions when he wore the jet ones. He had so many fine shirts and long, flowing skirts that he wore something different each day of the month. He never wore shoes, and he had his toes studded on top, permanently, with delicate little copper balls, to show everyone that he never needed to wear shoes. He spent a lot of money on his looks.


Anyway, he wasn’t a very nice man, but people said he was virtuous. He went to the malachite-topped temple of the bull-headed god on the right days, like everyone else, and shook hands and talked and prayed. He almost always brought a dun rooster for the priests and priestesses. But, like a lot of the others, he went to the other temple pretty often. That temple was for the men. It was full of sad women and boys. I met some of them once, in the street lined with orange bricks behind the temple. One of them showed me the caste-scars on her scalp. They worked for the temple – the women and boys I met – and they told me that it was better than living in the street, or being un-virtuous, and the snake-armed god favored them because they worked there. That meant, after they died and were born again, they’d be born into a family of higher station. Some of them said they liked the work. I remember I thought then that they were lying, but I didn’t know why I thought so till much later.


Mr. Yazatha was my uncle. I should have said that. He didn’t like for me to call him by his temple name, so he was always Mr. Yazatha to me. I lived with him in his blue-glass house that rested on the side of the wide canal in the city, with the other blue-glass houses, much closer to the wellspring than the lower-caste houses. Their houses were usually made of the red clay, in those days. My parents died when I was young. I guess they had some money, but I couldn’t have it till I was given my temple name, at fifteen. Anyway, it was just me and Mr. Yazatha and his automaton in his house. It wasn’t much company for a boy growing up. I liked watching the barges go up and down the canal. Each one had a different figure on the front – mostly gods. The eagle-head god was my favorite, but I liked the one with the seal’s body and the spear, too. I used to know all their names. Mr. Yazatha’s landing went all the way down, and the bronze grates seemed to hang just above the water, and I spent a lot of time leaning on the rail and watching the barges. When they passed, the wake sometimes got my feet wet.


So like a lot of men, when Mr. Yazatha felt small and empty and lonely, he went to the snake-armed god’s temple, with the sad women and boys. Mr. Yazatha went a lot. The trick with that temple, was that it seemed to make him and the rest feel big and powerful. The feeling faded, though, and so they’d go back with more money when they started feeling small. He never went on the same day he went to the bull-headed god’s temple though.


The automaton wasn’t much fun, but I guess I pretended it was my friend. It was a little taller than me and had green glass eyes, like marbles, and it spoke out of a little grill in its chest. The grill was clever – it was made to look like the automaton’s chest hair. But I thought that odd, because who speaks out of their chest? Anyway, the automaton looked like a short man, wearing a shining blue shirt and a skirt the same green as the canal. The automaton kept its own clothes clean and perfect, and it walked around and cleaned Mr. Yazatha’s clothes and jewelery, and made our food, and made sure the glass house was kept spotless. If I spilled a cup of tea, it’d wipe up the mess. It always said “Oh, what a mess! That’s alright, young Mister.” I sometimes spilled things just so it’d talk to me. Mr. Yazatha didn’t talk to me much, and he was out a lot.


On the day of the bull-headed god’s festival, everyone buys gifts for the bull-headed god’s temple. That’s so the automatons keep working, and the watch-towers watch, and the canal flows, and everything else. The automatons have a little bit of the gods in them. The priests said that’s how they work. Used to work. If you don’t get something for the temple, something fitting your birth, the priests and priestesses get mad. They call the – I forget what it was called, but it was brownish. I only saw it once. It was brown and scaled, and had a head sort of like a bull’s head, if you didn’t look close. The priests and priestesses called it if you weren’t virtuous.


Anyway, I told the automaton – I called it Tava, because that’s the sound it’s gears or guts or whatever they were, made, if you listened – I told Tava to go out with me and find a gift for the temple. I was nine then, and I since I was nine I had to start buying gifts. Mr. Yazatha forgot, but I didn’t want Tava to stop working, so I went to get one. He was at the snake-armed god’s temple when we left. We went out and came back with the gift. I don’t remember what I got, but it cost sixteen mael. That sounds like a lot, now, but then it wasn’t much. Anyway, Mr. Yazatha was back, and he was angry I took Tava out with me. He hit me. I dropped the gift – I remember now, it was a glass rooster full of colored oils, red and ochre and aquamarine and violet, that separated into layers – and it broke, and while Mr. Yazatha yelled at me Tava wiped it up and said “What a mess! That’s alright, young Mister.”


Later on, Mr. Yazatha gave Tava a bunch of fine old silk clothes. They were still fine and new-looking, but I guess he was tired of them. He told Tava to clean them up and package them for the bull-headed god’s festival. Tava said, “These are yours, master.” “The priests won’t know the difference. Just do as I say, Tava,” Mr. Yazatha said. “Of course, Mr. Yazatha.” Tava took them off to clean them, but I don’t think it went to the wash room. I was pretty worried about not having a gift, but we got dressed and went out to the temple when the sun started setting. It made the malachite top of the temple look gold. That was just reflection, though.


Anyway, when we got there, Tava carried Mr. Yazatha’s gift up with the rest, a great big pile of gifts in shining silk wraps or lacquer boxes or sandalwood-scented chests. Below those were the low gifts, from people of low castes. A bowl held a bunch of mael, but if you were low-caste, one mael was enough of a gift. There were some old skirts, and some paper birds and bulls and things like that. They were all below the big stone altar, twice as tall as the priests, carved with the bull-headed god. The old stone altar didn’t look anything like the rest of the temple, which was all malachite and gold and shiny things.


The priests and priestesses sang and we all said prayers to the bull-headed god. We prayed for the automatons to keep working and the canal to flow and all the rest. When it was done, the priests and acolytes started going through the gifts and putting them behind the altar. I was worried, so when Mr. Yazatha was talking to someone about all the fine clothes he’d given, I took up a mael I had left from earlier and put it in the bowl. I was ashamed of not having something better, and worried about the high priestess being mad.


Anyway, while I was there I saw Mr. Yazatha’s silk-wrapped bundle of fine clothes. It smelled, and some brownish oily liquid was on the bundle. I lifted it up, and the whole bottom of the bundle was oily and brown. One of the priests saw me and came over, and when he saw the bundle he tore it open with his metal-caged hand and pushed me away. All those embroidered silks were covered in oily grime. They smelled just awful, like the far end of the canal, and I wondered how they’d got so dirty when Tava had just cleaned them.


Mr. Yazatha came up when the priest shouted for him. He and the priest yelled back and forth, and Mr. Yazatha said it was my fault that the gift was ruined. Everyone was leaving the temple. Mr. Yazatha said I made the mess, but the priest didn’t believe him. Two of the other priests held him with the long, slender iron gloves they wore. Then, the priest called Tava over, and asked it very politely to take me home. Mr. Yazatha started crying. He begged the priests to let him go.


Tava said, “Come along, young Mister.” It started leading me out of the temple. Behind me, though, I heard something, and when I turned to look the big stone altar moved over. The stone made this strange grinding sound when it moved, and I remembered seeing the metal tracks under it. It moved over, and Tava said, “No need to watch, young Mister.”


The thing came up from under the altar. It smelled like a wound smells if it’s gone bad, and in fact, the head really didn’t look anything like a bull’s. I got a good look. Its eyes were bright green, like two big marbles. It opened its mouth, and, in two big bites, it swallowed up Mr. Yazatha, most of him, anyway, and then it went back under the altar. I didn’t know what to do. I looked at Tava, and it looked at me with those green eyes like two marbles.


Anyway, all it said was, “Oh, what a mess!” It went back up to the altar, with some of the temple automatons. They worked pretty well together, and together they all started wiping up the mess.