Books, Publishing, Short Fiction, Uncategorized, World War 2, Writing, Writing Inspiration

A Book Launch, A Sneak Peek, and a Sale

Today’s the launch day for the e-book edition of Swords and Maidens, a fantasy anthology in which I’ve got a piece of World War II speculative fiction.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a sneak peek of the beginning of my story and running a sale on my already published books!

How do the Second World War and speculative fiction fit together? A number of authors and storytellers have fused the two in different ways. For instance, Connie Willis in her book Blackout and Alexa Kang in Eternal Flame explored the possibilities of time travel. In the novels Fatherland by Robert Harris, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, and SS-GB by Len Deighton, the authors explored worlds where the Axis gained major victories.

When I was invited to contribute to Swords and Maidens, I wasn’t entirely sure what approach I wanted to take. In the end, one of my students from a few years ago inadvertently inspired me. He asked my opinion on whether our current generation could have risen to the call like the generation that served in World War II. It was interesting to speculate.

In my short story, titled “The Gift,”* I took a modern young man and threw him into 1943 Italy (with a few twists since this is speculative ficiton) to see what he would do.

Here’s a look at the opening of the story.

“Winkowski. You’re up tonight.”

Jayden froze with his hands stretched out over the fire. “What?”

Sergeant Murphy spat, his tobacco leaving a dark streak on the frosty ground. “Patrol. Report to the Old Man after chow.” He eyed the fire. “And make sure that’s out before sundown.” He turned, muttering, “Even you shouldn’t be stupid enough to give the Teds that kind of target…”

Jayden stared after him. Patrol? But…but I told them…

Petey clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, buddy, you okay?”

“I…” Jayden spun on him. “I can’t go on a patrol! I…”

Petey sighed. “Yeah yeah yeah. You’re not supposed to be here.” He turned back to the fire. “Me neither, pal. I signed on after Pearl Harbor. Figured I’d be fighting in the Pacific. Maybe helping liberate Europe. But,” he waved his hands toward the Italian mountains frowning around them. “Joke’s on both of us, I guess.”

“That…that’s not what I…” Jayden shook his head. “I need to…” Hold it together, man. No wonder they think you’re some kind of idiot. “I gotta go.” He scrambled to his feet, hustling after the sergeant.

Pete called after him, “Aw, Whine-kowski, do yourself a favor and don’t try to sell that story again…”

Ignoring him, Jayden pushed himself to a shambling run—not easy in these leather-soled boots and all this wool. What he wouldn’t give for his running shoes. Or a latte. Or anything normal and sane.

He caught the sergeant right at the entrance to his tent and grabbed his elbow.

Murphy looked at Jayden’s hand, looked at Jayden’s face, raised his eyebrows and sighed. “Again, Whine—” He cleared his throat. “Winkowski? Do we have to do this?”

“Sergeant Murphy. You can’t send me on a patrol. I told you. I’m not a soldier—”

“Yeah, I know. Neither were most of the kids who’re here—”

“No, no, NO. This is all some kind of crazy prank, or a reality show set or… Look, I can pay you!”

“CAN IT.” Murphy was a head shorter than Jayden, but he had a face you didn’t argue with.

He reminds me of my grandpa. Which I guess fits, considering this all looks like something out of one of those old black and white World War II movies he used to make me watch. Jayden forced himself to focus on what Murphy was saying, then wished he hadn’t.

“You think you’re my first pick for this job? You come into this outfit with your funny name and funny words and spin all kinds of wild yarns. You’re just the kind of dope who’ll get some of my better guys killed.”

Yeah, or worse get myself killed. At least they’re supposed to be here. But if you’re that worried, come on, maybe you could let me off the hook after all.

Murphy sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “But our platoon’s number came up. We’re down three guys between trench foot and pneumonia. And Doc says you’re not so crazy he can send you home. So. I’ve tried to be accommodating, but you’re up. You’re patrolling tonight.”


“Oh, for the love of Pete!” Murphy’s hands balled into fists. Jayden flinched, but the sergeant took a deep breath and let them uncurl. “Will you just shaddup? This is the way it is. You can’t get out of the dirty jobs forever. All the guys I’ve gotta work with, and you whine more than any of them. Tell me—what makes you think you’re so much better, so much more important, than everyone else?”

As he watched Murphy’s back disappear into his tent, as sleet blew down from the mountain and cut at his face, he muttered that question to himself. “What makes you think you’re so much better…I don’t!” I just want to take care of me and let everyone else take care of themselves. Is that really so unreasonable?

She’d asked that question too, right before this psycho dream or whatever-it-was began.

Jayden trudged back to the dying remains of Petey’s ration-box fire, remembering. Trying to sort it out. How had this happened?

The rest of the story, along with stories by 10 other authors, can be found in Swords and Maidens, available today as an amazon e-book, and coming soon in other locations and formats.

Update: It is also available as an Amazon paperback and on the Barnes and Noble website!

The gentleman responsible for the anthology, author N.R. LaPoint, put together this nifty book trailer if you’d like a peek at the other stories in the anthology.

To celebrate this new release, I’m also offering reduced prices on my existing novels.

My debut novel, Whom Shall I Fear?, is available in paperback for $5.19, and as an e-book for $0.99.

My second novel, Where Shall I Flee?, is available as in paperback for $9.99, and, for those of you “across the Pond,” the e-book is only $.99 on

My school’s Spring Break ends today so tomorrow I’ll be back to teaching, but it was astonishing to look at the calendar and realize that I’ve only got 10 weeks of school left before my first year at a new school in a new state is officially complete. How did that happen?

The next 10 weeks are looking like they’ll be a whirlwind, but I have high hopes of getting some new history posts up on some topics that I’m pretty excited about! We’ll see how it goes.

Even though I’m gearing up to get back to work, I’d love to hear your thoughts—did you enjoy the sneak peek above? Do you have any exciting plans as the seasons change?

Thanks for stopping by!

*Yeah, I reused the title from my Advent Calendar story—because it fit perfectly and because I hate coming up with titles—and a wee bit of the setting, but no, this isn’t the same story! It took off in some interesting new directions…

13 thoughts on “A Book Launch, A Sneak Peek, and a Sale”

    1. Ooh, nice Curt! S.J. Higbee (sci-fi author) just recommended that one to me! She said it’s in kind of the same universe as Blackout. If you get a chance, let me know what you think of it!


  1. I’ll check out… he cautiously says…

    As previously mentioned, this can be a whole can of worms! But your story looks intriguing, I will read.

    Liked by 1 person

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