Friday, May 21, 2010


I completed a collection of short stories, written for boys aged 12-14 and now I'm looking for a publisher. Seems there isn't an established market for this sort of thing, yet I'm convinced boys would enjoy short pieces of fiction that they could skip around and read in brief sessions. The topics range from funny to serious--different flavors for different days. In all cases, I've striven to make the characters and situations compelling and memorable.

Here's one as a preview. I'd love to read reactions in the Comments section!


Leon Bennett was pulling an all-nighter. He’d gone to Shawn Randall’s house for a birthday sleepover along with Hunter Bibby, Ray Leung and Dallas MacLeod. With full reign of the basement, they planned to stay up until dawn. It was clear by the snores that only Leon had kept his word.

Not that he particularly wanted to. Sleep would be a good thing if Leon could be sure he’d dream about going fishing or saving his family from a menacing but relatively harmless ogre. Even a freefall off a cliff would be acceptable. Trouble was Leon knew exactly what would be in his dreams. Axe murderers.

No, Leon wasn’t a psychopath, as far as he knew. He’d never thought of axe murderers until Shawn’s birthday. Out of all the DVDs crammed on three shelves, Hunter picked Hack.

Never let a guy named Hunter pick the movie.

Leon wasn’t the squeamish type—didn’t even tear up when he broke his leg in a mountain climbing accident last year. However, he lived a sheltered life. There was a strict ban on video games in the Bennett home and the only movies he saw were sports-themed or comedies fixated on flatulence. Hack was his first horror movie.

What a baptism! No matter how many times he told himself there must have been barrels of tomato juice on the set, it made no difference. Each death involved severed body parts with blood spewing all over the screen. Hunter and the others guffawed and roared in approval. Leon found every minute excruciating. At one point, he excused himself to go to the bathroom, hoping he’d be spared at least two killings. To his mortification, they paused the film so he wouldn’t miss a thing.

If the bad guy had had two heads or a half-severed arm of his own, Leon could have handled it. Or if his fiancĂ© had been executed by terrorists or the guy’s dog had been run over, it would have been okay. Leon kept waiting for a motive, maybe something to redeem, or at least explain, the character. Nothing.

He kills because he can.

Were all horror movies like that? Who came up with this movie? Did the guy’s family attend the premiere and, at the party afterwards, gush, “We’re so proud of you!”? Or did they pay the extra fee to get a twenty-four-hour locksmith to change the locks? Stat! Maybe the whole premise came to the writer after a bad reaction to eggplant. But then who jumped up and agreed to direct? And to star in the thing?

Apparently, Leon was the only one disturbed. They slept blissfully. They’d probably welcome a nightmare with an axe-wielding maniac.

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