Story-A-Day Writing Prompt

I missed this two weeks ago, but the lovely Julie Duffy from Story-A-Day had invited me back to provide a writing prompt for her website. Unbeknownst to me, my prompt was released on 08 May. However, I would like to mention that I actually don’t write blood and gore horror as Julie alludes to in her introduction.

If you’re a writer, click here to read my story prompt and consider joining Story-A-Day and posting your full story.  Have fun!


Book Review: I Am The Salamander by Michael Jan Friedman

After his cancer mysteriously goes into remission, Tim Cruz wants nothing more than to resume the normal life of a teenager. He returns to his high school in the middle of the spring semester only to confront the stares of his classmates, the bully who once harassed him on a weekly basis, and the most gorgeous girl on campus, who had been a childhood friend until they drifted apart.

Yep, it was comforting to see that so few things had changed…except for Tim Cruz. He was fifteen pounds lighter, his hair was still growing back from chemo, he’d learned to despise crowds, and…oh, yeah…his skin was beginning to change colors when he was under stress.


Tim dismisses this anomaly at first, along with the bizarre, intermittent flashes of light, until he returns to his uncle’s aquarium to get his old job back. There, he witnesses a little girl flailing helplessly in the piranha tank. Naturally, he dives into save her, only to find that she becomes even more frightened of him than of her ordeal. Worse, piranhas had claimed two of his toes—which grew back over the course of a few days.

Much like the hand he tore off as a distraction after knocking out a gunman in the school auditorium by leaping on top of him—from the ceiling where he had crawled from the projector booth.

What is going on here?

That’s exactly what Tim Cruz would like to know and is determined to find out, even as an anonymous blogger, known only as Blog Boy, begins reporting incidents of this strange creature known now as The Salamander.

Tim later realizes that in addition to moving through water at inhuman speeds and his ability to cling to walls, he can also see in infrared when needed, and stun his opponents with a neurotoxin transmitted by touch.

And that ain’t all.

As Tim tries to determine the origins of his amazing powers, he learns that a clandestine group of government agents wants to dissect him in an effort to build an army of super soldiers. They’ll stop at nothing to get what they want—including threatening Tim’s family.

Can this young cancer survivor evade capture, avoid revealing himself to the public, protect his family, manage his schoolwork, stave off the bully, and…oh yeah…deal with the unexpected affections of the most gorgeous girl on campus?

All without telling his mom?

I Am The Salamander is a fast-paced, fun read. You can’t help but sympathize with typical high-school nerd Tim Cruz, who finds himself suddenly thrust from one life-threatening ordeal into another, all the while admirably maintaining his composure and resilience through an inner strength born from his battle with the deadliest of diseases.



Book Review: Partners in Wonder by Harlan Ellison

As an avid admirer of Harlan Ellison, I was excited to find a cache of his books in fine to excellent condition at a used bookstore late last year. It was a rare and wonderful discovery, as I hardly ever find Harlan’s backlist in such a quantity in any single location.

Partners in Wonder was one of the books I found that day. It is an anthology of collaborative stories between Harlan and some of the most famous SF and speculative fiction writers of that Golden Age such as Ben Bova, Robert Silverberg, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Bloch, and others.

While these may not be considered the best works from Harlan or his co-conspirators—which Harlan himself admits in one instance during his brief introduction to “The Power of the Nail”—there is a wide variety of tales that demonstrate the depth and breadth of these august scribes. All told, it is an entertaining collection.

Speaking of Harlan’s introductions, each story has one and I enjoyed being regaled by his recollections of how each collaboration was born as much, if not more in some cases, than the stories themselves.

My favorites yarns in the bunch include:

I See a Man Sitting on a Chair, and the Chair is Biting His Leg – written with Robert Sheckley

Up Christopher to Madness – written with Avram Davidson

The Human Operators – written with A.E. Van Vogt

Wonderbird – written with Algis Budrys

The Song the Zombie Sang – written with Robert Silverberg

Street Scene – written with Keith Laumer


Partners in Wonder-Ellison

Free Fiction on Audio

Undoubtedly, you noticed the Free Fiction menu here on my website.  Under that menu, you will find three flash fiction stories.  Two of those stories are now available for your free listening pleasure on Prometheus Radio Theatre.  Click the link below and enjoy!

Man to Man written and read by Phil Giunta

Call Me Sam written and read by Steven H. Wilson