Now Available: The Devious Kind

THE DEVIOUS KIND

A MYSTERY

CLINT WESTGARD

The body of a local woman is found in a coulee on a ranch north of Loverna, her head blown off with a shotgun. New to town and the job, Constable Martin Thomas arrives on the scene as a spring snowstorm begins to wipe out all evidence before his investigation has even begun.

There is no shortage of suspects to consider. A spurned husband. A jealous lover. A betrayed business partner. And family members battling over an inheritance. All have motive and opportunity. And no one seems to be telling him everything.

As he tries to sift the truth from the lies, the snowstorm continues to build, leaving Loverna cut off from the outside world. And Martin alone to face a killer who will do anything not to get caught.

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Now Available: In A Flash

IN A FLASH

COLLECTION

CLINT WESTGARD

An inquisitor sets out on a journey to find a monster. An inventor creates a time machine and is horrified to discover it works all too well.

A living ship comes to give birth at edges of space. Wizards do battle for eternal supremacy.

Sleeper agents under deep cover are activated and must leave everything behind. Love affairs blossom and fade in springtime.

Hunters become the hunted and dwellings turn upon their inhabitants. And a warlock provides unique and particular advice on romance.

These and many other stories make up In A Flash, a collection of very short fiction that explores the vagaries of time and space, journeys to exotic realms, and the curious ways of the heart. From horror to westerns to romance to far-flung space opera and all points in between, In A Flash collects more than fifty stories.

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Excerpt: The Devious Kind (Chapter Two)

In advance of the publication of The Devious Kind at the end of the month, I will be publishing a few excerpts online. What follows is the second chapter of the novel:

Half an hour later, a police car drove slowly up the driveway into the main yard, pulling to a stop in front of the ranch house, where Diane stood on the porch, a dog at her feet and a hood thrown over her head to keep off the snow.

Hello, Diane,” Constable Martin Tomas said as he stepped out of the car.

She just nodded. “It’s down there by the coulee,” she said, pointing. “You can take your car if you think it can make it through the mud.”

I’ll be all right.”

She paused, and then said, “We called him. Wayne said I probably shouldn’t, but I had to.”

He nodded. “He’s down there now?”

Yeah.”

Martin got back into his car and drove slowly down the laneway that led to the far pens that edged onto the coulee. He went past pens filled with cattle still heavy with their winter coats, but he paid them no mind. Even six months ago he might have, but now, a year and a half into his term here, a cow was just a cow. Continue reading

Excerpt: The Devious Kind (Chapter One)

In advance of the publication of The Devious Kind at the end of the month, I will be publishing a few excerpts online. What follows is the first chapter of the novel:

The body lay, sprawled awkwardly, partway down the coulee, right before the slope turned sheer and plunged to the creek far below. The night had hidden it, but the arrival of dawn made its presence obvious. There were several sets of footprints from where the body lay to the road, clearly marked in the muddy spring ground. Even as the new day’s light revealed these details, the first flakes of snow began to fall, wet and heavy. For a time the earth resisted their intrusion, but eventually the storm proved too much and the ground turned white, covering over the tracks.
Continue reading

In A Flash: The End

Writing a short story a week for a year, that was the challenge I set myself in 2016. The stories had to be no more than 1500 words and they could not be connected in any way to other worlds or characters I had created. Once written, I would publish them here for the world to see.

Why did I decide to do this?

It’s not simply that I enjoy torturing myself with arbitrary challenges that inevitably end in tears and disappointment, at one’s basic inability to follow through on anything and the sure knowledge that failure (and ultimately death) awaits us all. That gets me through the night, as I’m sure it does everyone else, but that couldn’t be all this was about.

I wanted to push myself as writer. I felt I had become too complacent in some ways and I wanted to see if I could challenge myself. To force myself to write things that I might not otherwise. Whether this was a genre or a style I didn’t normally write in, or a tense, tone or perspective I didn’t normally adopt, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t do what came naturally.

I also wanted to see if I could get myself to write with more brevity, and what better way to do that than to force concision upon myself with a word limit. Practice is not something people often talk about with regards to writing, but that was a fundamental part of this challenge. If I made myself write a short story a week, with a strict (kind of) word limit, by the end of the year, I should have a better idea of how to write with concision and focus. That was the theory anyway.

Along those same lines, I also wanted to get better at writing when I had no inspiration and no ideas of what to write. Muses are fickle, tedious creatures in my experience, not to be relied upon. As a result, the majority of these stories began with a blank page and no sense at all of what I was going to write about that week. I began with a sentence and then another and let my mind take me where it wanted to go.

Finally, and most importantly, I wanted to have fun. Writing, is a pleasurable exercise. At least I think it should be. But, like anything else, it can grow stale if you keep doing the same thing over and over. By starting fresh each week, I ensured that I was always doing going down new and different paths.

As expected, there were a few failures. There were trips to Machu Picchu. Sickness. Health. Miscreant geese. Recalcitrant alpacas. 1500 word stories morphed into a multi-volume book series. The usual run of life, in other words. But I also managed a few weeks where I got more than one story written, with the end result that I ended with more than the 52 stories I had planned.

All the stories that resulted from that challenge I set for myself can be found under the In A Flash category on Circumambient Scenery. They will also be collected and published in a volume. Watch this space for details shortly.

As I write this, having successfully completed 52 plus weeks of writing short stories, I can say that I succeeded in meeting all the goals I had when I set out. The merits of the stories themselves, I will leave to the readers to judge. I know that I enjoyed writing them all, and I hope that you enjoyed reading them.

In A Flash: The Dame

There’s a woman here to see you. Real looker.” Daisy said, sticking her head in through Murphy’s door.

Murphy nodded to send her in. He got a good look at her as she came in through the door. Eyes downcast to look demur, but there was a light to them that said otherwise. Her lips were the kind that always seemed to be smiling, or on the verge of it. A beautiful girl, no doubt about it.

What can I do for you Miss…?”

Adeline Sandos. Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Murphy. I have a problem. I’m not quite sure how to explain it.”

Just start at the beginning,” Murphy said, with a generous smile, his eyes intent upon her.

Adeline hesitated, looking away and then back at Murphy. “Well, it’s my husband, you see.” Murphy nodded, as though he had expected her to say that. “He’s gotten mixed up with some bad people I think. And I’m worried…”

Here she hesitated again. Murphy leaned forward slightly. “What worries you, Miss Sandos?”

Well, I’m worried there may be another woman.”

Murphy nodded, as though he had expected that too. He made her tell him everything, even those things she seemed reluctant to talk about, asking questions about particular details. When he was done he sent her on her way with some reassurance, telling her to put a retainer down with Daisy. He watched her leave the room, his eyes lingering on her as she left, his lips pursed in thought.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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