Free Kindle Short Story: “Dream of Crows”

My Kindle short “Dream of Crows” will be free on Amazon between January 21 and January 23. (The story is always free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.)

crowssmallcoverDescription: After going on a business trip to north Florida, you have strange dreams about something lurid and/or dangerous that happened in a cemetery next to Tate’s Hell Swamp. You try to remember and when you do, that’s all she wrote.

Picture This: When a person has too much to drink and gets mixed up with a stunning conjure woman, exciting things can turn into dangerous things. That’s why folks need to be careful when walking into a bluesy bar where a temptress is serving drinks–and more.

Tate’s Hell Stories: This story is one of a series of books that are connected by one thing only: a forbidding swamp. The swamp, which is real, is on Florida’s Gulf Coast near the town of Carrabelle. You probably haven’t heard of the swamp or the town because they’re in what’s often called “the forgotten coast.” Those of us who grew up there hope it stays forgotten.

Obviously, this short story leans a bit into the paranormal side of things. You might also say it’s a bit experimental since you are the main character.

Have fun reading the story–if you dare.








“How the Snake Bird Learned to Dry His Feathers”

snakebirdWhen friends and family visited us in north Florida, we would often take them to nearby Wakulla Springs to ride in the glass bottom boats and then on the so-called “Jungle Cruise” along the St. Marks River. First, they noticed all the alligators along the river’s bank. And the turtles.

The anhingas, also called snake birds, attracted a lot of attention, because they spent a fair amount of time on tree limbs holding their wings out while drying their feathers. Why? Their plumage lacks the oil of ducks and other water birds and takes a while to dry before they can easily take off again. As the excerpt below shows, taking off with wet wings was a noisy business.

Snake birds swim under water with only their heads and above the surface. They look like snakes. Well, odd snakes. We always told tall tales about this. I finally wrote one down. It appears in Quail Bell Magazine and can be read the story here .

It begins like this:

On a long-ago summer afternoon in the land between the rivers, Tcheecateh was enjoying a long, cat-like stretch of a nap on a fallen sabal palm until the snake bird created a raucous spectacle by running, splashing and wing flapping across the previously calm water of the swamp. Although the blissful quiet returned when the bird finally became airborne, the panther kitten hissed at a blowing leaf out of frustration and stood up to see who else was awakened by Chentetivimketv’s noisy takeoff.

Hope you like it.



It’s really spooky: ‘Moonlight and Ghosts’

I’m happy to announce my really spooky short story “Moonlight and Ghosts” was published today by Vanilla Heart Publishing in an e-book format.

Publisher’s Description: On a moonlit night, Randy’s intuition is drawing him back to an abandoned psychiatric hospital where he once worked. He and his friend, Alice, have heard the ghost hunters’ claims the building is haunted, filled with strange lights, apparitions and the voices of former patients calling for help. The Forgotten point Randy and Alice to a crime in progress… and there’s not much time to save the victim.

That abandoned building…

There used to be an abandoned psychiatric hospital and developmental center near the house where I grew up. Before it was converted from a secondary hospital for use by the state department of mental health, I visited patients there–and it all seemed normal enough. It closed for a variety of reasons, including lack of funding and ended up sitting as an abandoned and often vandalized building for over two decades.

During this time, it became a magnet for ghost hunters. The more I looked at the pictures on line, the more my imagination started tinkering with an idea for a story. Like the main character in the story, I once worked as a unit manager at a center for the developmentally disabled. Fortunately, I never worked in this building. But what if I had and what if I went back on a moonlit night and found several ghosts waiting for me with an emergency message?  Hmmm…

I hope you like it!

Price: 99 cents on Kindle, and in multiple formats, on Smashwords.

Watch the Book Video on YouTube

Read the beginning on Amazon (use “look inside”) or on Smashwords (use “view sample) for free.


Review: ‘Equinox’ by Robert Hays

Equinox, A Short StoryEquinox, A Short Story by Robert Hays
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Essie’s late husband Arthur built her a sturdy house, taking care to place it just right to catch the Spring sunshine. Arthur carefully placed the silver maples and the catalpas to provide many years of perfect summer shade. The trees are grown now. The kids and grandkids are gone, and so is Arthur.

In Robert Hays’ well written and poetic short story “Equinox,” Essie and Plato follow long-established rhythms throughout the changing seasons, and that’s a comfort, for after their long years together, a schedule of sleeping, waking, meals and the daily arrival of the mailman anchors her life.

She had expected Arthur to be her anchor until he was killed in a coal mining accident years ago. He approached his job in the dark mine with same care and deliberation as he approached the construction of their house in the sunny valley. Like the house and the marriage, it was supposed to last.

This year, Winter has seemed permanent, closing her up inside the house with snow and ice. Essie broods about all that’s been lost and finds brief solace in fantacies about what might have been.

With Plato, she waits for the Spring equinox. It’s one of the few events she can count on, and Essie hopes it will be enough.

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Available in paperback and Kindle

Review: ‘Good-Bye, Emily Dickinson’

Good-Bye, Emily DickinsonGood-Bye, Emily Dickinson by Smoky Trudeau Zeidel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s homeless and she believes she’s Emily Dickinson’s daughter. She observes the world, writes poems wherever she parks her shopping cart of notebooks and other treasures. She ponders the fate of great artists who didn’t get any respect until after they were dead. But, she’s patient (though some say she should be a patient until she gets her mind right).

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel (“The Cabin” 2008) tells a story that’s born in a respected teacher’s English class and played out on the hot streets between the church, the Sinclair service station and the underpass. She—real or imagined daughter of the long-gone Emily—truly understands that “the mere sense of living is joy enough.”

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