now on IndieGoGo: new Dragon Precinct and new Cassie Zukav stories!!!!

I’ve launched a new crowdfund, this one for two new stories, one in the Dragon Precinct milieu, the other a tale of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet.

Details at the link, or in the video above. Short version: “The Gorvangin Rampages” is an untold tale of the Cliff’s End Castle Guard from the one-year gap between Gryphon Precinct and Mermaid Precinct, and “Ragnarok and a Hard Place” is a Key West urban fantasy story that brings both Odin and Loki back after their respective apparent deaths in “Cayo Hueso: Twisting Fate” and “Fish Out of Water,” much to the surprise of Cassie.

Please consider supporting it!

 

 

talkin’ the new Cassie Zukav story with the editor of Unearthed

Ran For Your Life final illustration

Altrix Books is running Q&A’s with the authors who contributed to Unearthed, and they led off with me! Click here to read my thoughts about writing for the anthology in general and about “Rán for Your Life” in particular.

An excerpt:

Altrix: What books, shows, or real life events inspired your work, if any?

DeCandido: The biggest inspirations are Norse myths and my experiences being married to a scuba diver — not my wife Wrenn Simms, but rather my ex-wife Dr. Marina Frants, who was and is an avid scuba diver. Plus, of course, just the general vibe of Key West…..

on sale now: Unearthed with a new Cassie Zukav story!

Unearthed

Altrix Books has released Unearthed, edited by Kara Dennison, and which includes a new tale of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet, by me, entitled “Rán for Your Life.” While on a wreck dive in the Florida Keys, Cassie encounters a strange container covered in runes that give her the heebie-jeebies. This leads to an encounter with Rán and AEgir, the Norse gods of the sea, as well as Cassie’s old buddies Loki and Odin.

You can find the anthology’s full table of contents here — the other stories are by some wonderful folks, including two of my favorite humans, Meredith Peruzzi and John Peel, as well as James Bojaciuk, Paul Driscoll, Richard Gurl, I.E. Kneverday, James Maddox, Michael O’Brien, Graham Tedesco-Blair, and Sharyna Tran, as well as editor Kara (another of my favorite humans). Each story has an illustration as well, by either Ginger Hoesly, Sophie Iles, or Monica Marier.

Get your hands on the book here, in either trade paperback or eBook form!

 

cover and illustration reveal: Unearthed with new Cassie Zukav story!

Kara Dennison of Altrix Books has revealed the cover to her upcoming charity anthology Unearthed, art by Ginger Hoesly. This anthology of stories about containers of various kinds that are, well, unearthed will include a new tale of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet, entitled “Rán for Your Life.”

Here’s the cover:

Unearthed

 

And as an added bonus, here’s the illustration that will accompany my story, by Monica Marier!

Ran For Your Life final illustration

 

Ordering links for the anthology — which will benefit the American Research Center in Egypt — should be going up soon. Keep an eye here and on Altrix’s site for more details…..

new on Patreon: Doctor Who review, Cassie Zukav vignette, lotsa cat pics!

patreon

A bunch of new things on Patreon:

Coming soon will be this week’s TV review, which will not be Major Crimes as originally intended, as that series finale isn’t airing until next Tuesday, and I want to discuss the show once its final episode has aired. I may instead review Lucifer.

 

latest Cassie Zukav story in TV Gods: Summer Programming

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The second of the TV Gods anthologies from the fine folks at Fortress Publishing has been released, and now you can order it online directly from the publisher! Besides stories by my dear friends Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Elektra Hammond, KT Pinto, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, and Ian Randal Strock, as well as editors Jeff Young and Lee C. Hillman, it also has the latest Key West-based urban fantasy featuring Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet. This one focuses on Thor and Tyr, the latter in his guise as a stock car driver, who really doesn’t want the sports show profiling him to know that he’s a Norse god…….

It’s the most recent Cassie story both in terms of release and also in terms of story timeline. For a full list of all the Cassie stories (including the free one you can read online any time you want as a sample), check out this post.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

“Welcome back, race-car fans, to another episode of Behind the Wheel. I’m your host, Naza Mireles. Today we’ll be taking a look at Jamie McIntyre.

            “Jamie burst on the scene out of nowhere five years ago, and has quickly earned a spot in the top echelon of NASCAR drivers. At this rate, he may be in the conversation for all-time great alongside Petty, Gordon, and Earnhardt.

            “Everyone knows that Jamie won his first eight races in a row, and there was talk that he’d challenge Richard Petty’s record of twenty-seven wins in one season. He didn’t quite manage that, though he did vault past Jeff Gordon into second place when he won his fourteenth at the Pennsylvania 400. Everyone knows that he’s continued to stay on the NASCAR leaderboard, recently taking first place at Daytona. Everyone knows that he wears his racing gloves 24/7, like it’s his good-luck charm. And everyone knows that he does all this with a minimal pit crew, the smallest crew of anyone in NASCAR history.

            “But what everyone doesn’t know is who the real Jamie McIntyre is. After his Daytona win, he came to Key West, Florida, with his pit crew, and lately, whenever they’re not at a race, they’re at the southernmost point, mostly at a bar called Mayor Fred’s Saloon.”

 

I knew something weird was going on when I saw a camera crew in Mayor Fred’s. And I had a feeling what it was when I recognized the woman the crew was surrounding. She was sitting at the bar, chatting with the new bartender.

As I entered the open-air bar, I passed by the manager, Ihor, who said, “Hey, Cassie.”

I pointed at the bar. “What’s Naza Mireles doing here?”

Ihor just stared at me. “Take a wild guess.”

“She’s profiling Jamie, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, and since he’s been hangin’ out here since Daytona, they wanna talk to his drinking buddies.”

Wonderful. The word was out that Mayor Fred’s was a NASCAR star’s new favorite watering hole, which meant my favorite bar was becoming a Key West hotspot.

Which, I gotta say, was really annoying. One of the best things about Mayor Fred’s, which was on Greene Street, half a block from the main drag of Duval Street, was that it didn’t get the nutsy crowds that Sloppy Joe’s and Irish Kevin’s and the like got.

But that had been changing, to the point where Ihor had to hire a second full-time bartender along with the part-timers he had working on Fridays and Saturdays.

That bartender, a cheery redhead named Meredith, was saying, “Oh, Jamie, Eitri, and Brokkr are just regulars like everyone else. We don’t treat them any different, which is probably why they keep coming back. But I’ve only been working here about a month, so I haven’t really gotten to know him as well.” She caught sight of me, and I immediately started to head for the women’s room.

Too late.

“Hey, Cassie! You’ll wanna talk to Cassie, she’s been a regular here, like, forever.”

I sighed and glowered at Meredith.

Mireles immediately jumped off her stool and walked over to me. She was wearing a scoop-necked black shirt that emphasized her cleavage, which made it the same as every other top she wore on camera. Couldn’t really blame her, since Behind the Wheel catered to NASCAR fans, who were mostly redneck white guys who loved them some boobs.

She was also only about five feet nothing, which you couldn’t tell from watching Behind the Wheel. Since I’m almost six feet tall, this made for a hilarious visual as she put out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Naza Mireles. We’re profiling Jamie McIntyre for Behind the Wheel. Would you mind sitting down with me for an interview?”

My instinct was to say no, but it was mostly because I knew that, once this aired, Mayor Fred’s was going to become more popular, and it was gonna become impossible to even sit in here.

But that was gonna happen whether I talked to her or not. So I returned the handshake. “I’m Cassie Zukav. And yeah, why not?”

Mireles grinned. “Excellent. Have a seat, Ms. Zukav.”

I plunked myself down on one of the stools. As soon as I did so, Meredith placed a pint of beer in front of me. It was good to see that the newbie was as prompt as Ihor always was when it came to providing a drink without even having to ask for it.

Mireles noticed this as she sat on the stool next to me. “You definitely are a regular.”

“For almost two years now, yeah.”

“First of all, what’s your name and what do you do for a living?”

“I’m Cassie Zukav, and I’m a dive-master at the Seaclipse Dive Shop on Stock Island, and I also work at the Bottroff House Bed and Breakfast on Easton Street here on Key West.”

Shaking her head, Mireles said, “Everyone here has two jobs.”

“Price of living in paradise,” I said with a shrug.

“You said you’ve been a regular here two years. Is that how long you’ve lived in Key West?”

I nodded. “I’m from San Diego originally. After I finished school, I road-tripped across the bottom of the country. I was planning to do a two-week vacation here and then turn around and head home. Still haven’t gotten around to the second part yet.”

She chuckled. “So you met Jamie here?”

I nodded and sipped the beer. “It was after this year’s Daytona. Eitri and Brokkr came down first, then Jamie, and then they kept coming back.”

“What do you think brought them here in particular?”

For a second, I hesitated. There were, of course, several very good reasons why they came here, and why they kept coming back, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that should really go on a nationally televised profile of a stock car driver.

Then I decided, aw, what the hell. It’s Key West. Crazy is what we do here. I’m living proof of that.

I pointed to the ficus that was at the center of the bar. “See that tree? That was Key West’s hanging tree in the nineteenth century. Later, they built this bar around it—the tree’s stayed intact this whole time. And the reason for that is that it’s also a root of Yggdrasil.”

Mireles’s studiously perky face fell. “Of what?”

“Yggdrasil. The world-tree. See, Yggdrasil links the Nine Worlds together—you can read up on it in Norse myth, or just watch the Marvel movies, I guess. Anyhow, Jamie McIntyre isn’t his only name—he also goes by Tyr, one of the Norse gods, and the reason why he came here is because of Yggdrasil. Same reason why Eitri and Brokkr came here—they’re both dwarves—and also Loki and Odin and Sigyn up there.” I pointed at the stage where 1812, the bar’s house band, was setting up. Sigyn—a.k.a. Ginny Blake—was the drummer. “She was actually Loki’s wife once upon a time. A little over a year ago, Loki tried to destroy the world by sundering Yggdrasil and causing Ragnarok—remember that weird snowstorm we had here last April? That was part of it. Luckily, I was able to stop him. See, I’m a Dís, a fate goddess. That’s part of why I was drawn here, also. Well, that and it’s a fun place. Good beer, good people, and wait’ll you hear 1812 play, they’re the best cover band on the island.”

Somewhere in the middle of my colloquy on how Norse mythology intersected with Key West, Mireles’s face went from confused to incredulous to wondering who this nutjob was, exactly, and finally to amusement.

“You know, every time I come to this island, I hear a lot of crazy stories. And yours needs a better hook. I mean, Norse gods? Seriously? The Thor movies aren’t even all that good.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I wouldn’t kick Hemsworth or Hiddleston out of bed,” I said with a grin.

Oh yeah.” Her expression got feral for a second, and then she put her professional interviewer face back on. “But seriously, what really brought you to Mayor Fred’s?”

I took another sip of my beer. I kinda figured that would be her reaction—which also confirmed that everyone else she’d talked to had kept the truth under wraps.

You see, everything I said to her was a hundred percent true. Jamie McIntyre really was Tyr, Eitri and Brokkr really were the dwarves who forged (among other things) Thor’s hammer, and Ginny really was Sigyn. Odin and Loki both used to come here, too, but the former died helping me stop a crazy ghost from killing people, and the latter died at the hands of a mermaid who wanted vengeance for a thousand-year-old prank he’d pulled.

“Honestly,” I said, only partly meaning that adverb, “what drew me in here was 1812. They really are the best cover band on the island. I don’t know if anyone told you, but they were the band backing John Robertson up on his last CD before he died.”

“Really?” Mireles said. “That’s impressive.”

“Oh yeah, they’re fantastic.” I didn’t mention that Robertson only died because I stopped him from sucking 1812’s souls out of them.

“How well do you know Jamie?”

I shrugged. “Hard to say. We’re bar-friends, y’know? I mean, there are people who come in here every night, and I couldn’t tell you what their favorite color is or what their religion is or even what they do for a living. I can tell you their favorite beer or which sports team they root for or what their favorite song is.”

“So what’s Jamie’s favorite song?”

I chuckled. “Well, he keeps asking 1812 to play Black Sabbath’s ‘Feels Good to Me.'”

“So he likes power ballads,” Mireles said with a nod.

“I guess.” I pointedly didn’t mention that that song was on the Sabbath album entitled Tyr.

“And his favorite beer?”

“He doesn’t drink beer—he mostly goes for whiskey. Eitri and Brokkr, though, they order stouts every time.”

She asked a few more innocuous questions, and I gave the most boring answer I could think of. Then she stopped a second, tapped the bar with her index finger for a second, and then said, “Okay, maybe you know the answer to this—no one seems to have any idea, but I’ve heard a rumor that Jamie has a brother. There’s no record of him, but I keep hearing references to him here and there from the pit crew and from a few of his other racing buddies.”

I didn’t even know Tyr had racing buddies. I also was now really glad that I never mentioned Thor when I was telling Mireles the truth she didn’t believe.

Because if she was having trouble with Tyr, Sigyn, Loki, and Odin, the reality of Thor didn’t bear talking about, and the idea of her meeting Thor didn’t bear thinking about. Especially with her showing off all the cleavage…

“Um, no, no brother that I know about. Bar-friends, y’know? I couldn’t tell you who the only children are and who has siblings. People here only know I have a twin brother ’cause he visited last Thanksgiving.”

“Huh. Okay.”

Then Larry came out of the men’s room and stared dolefully at Mireles and me. “You’re still here,” he said.

“Yes, and I still want to talk to you.”

“Forget it,” Larry said, and he veered off toward the pool table.

“What is with him? Everyone else is jumping at the chance to talk about Jamie.”

“No, they’re jumping at the chance to be on TV,” I said with a smirk. “But Larry’s kinda special.”

“Let me guess, he’s a Norse god, too?”

I grinned. “No, an immortal, thanks to a love affair he had with a water elemental.”

Mireles rolled her eyes. “You people and your scary stories. Last time I was down here, I took a ghost tour—saw that creepy doll at the museum, heard about all kinds of crazy stuff. Is it something in the air here, or what?”

“Ah, those ghost tours are weak. They don’t even mention the ghost in the Bottroff House.”

“You know I’m not gonna be using any of this crazy stuff, right?”

I grinned. “I know, I just like seeing all the funny facial expressions you make.”

“I’m not gonna use those, either.”

But she also laughed when she said it.

guide to the tales of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet

cassiebanner3

I have written several short stories that feature a young woman named Cassie Zukav. She was introduced in a story called “How You Can Prevent Forest Fires…” in the 1997 anthology Urban Nightmares, a collection of stories based on urban legends co-edited by me and the late Josepha Sherman. A grad student in San Diego, she finds herself haunted by stories about divers being found burned alive in forest fires.

Cassie seemed to die at the end of that story, but she’s a hardy woman, and I brought her back in 2011 for the short story “Ragnarok and Roll,” which established that she’d gotten her Masters degree and moved to Key West, Florida.

I first visited Key West in 1993 when my ex-wife and I went for our first anniversary. I’ve been back many many times since — it’s a magical place ($1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and it’s full of nifty ghost lore and weird stories and fantastic history. It’s the perfect place to set urban fantasy stories, and since 2011 I’ve written more than a dozen featuring Cassie as she learns that she’s a Dís, a Norse fate goddess. She spends her days as a dive-master at the Seaclipse Dive Shop, her nights hanging out at Mayor Fred’s Saloon in Old Town listening to the house band 1812 play. She also encounters several Norse gods, the ghost of a wrecker captain (and a few other ghosts besides), an immortal barfly, a musician who steals people’s soul (singular deliberate there), a nixie, a water fae, a mermaid, a possessed doll, and more.

A good entry point to the Cassie stories is “Down to the Waterline,” which is available for free online at BuzzyMag. And if you like that one, you’ll probably like the others, nine of which are available in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. Here they all are, in chronological story order:

“How You Can Prevent Forest Fires…” (Urban Nightmares, 1997; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, 2013)

“Down to the Waterline” (BuzzyMag, 2015)

“Ragnarok and Roll” (Tales from the House Band Volume 1, 2011; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll and also in Apocalypse 13, 2012)

“Undine the Boardwalk” (Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, 2014; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll)

“I Believe I’m Sinkin’ Down” (Tales from the House Band Volume 2, 2012; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll)

“Love Over and Over” (Ragnarok and Roll)

“William Did It” (Story of the Month Club, 2015; reprinted in A Baker’s Dozen of Magic, 2016)

“Rán for Your Life” (Unearthed, 2019)

“Cayo Hueso Part 1: A Farewell to Cats” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)

“Cayo Hueso Part 2: The Buck Stops Here” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)

“Cayo Hueso Part 3: Twisting Fate” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)

“God of Blunder” (Ragnarok and Roll)

“Fish Out of Water” (Out of Tune, 2014)

“Seven-Mile Race” (Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido, 2015)

“Behind the Wheel” (TV Gods: Summer Programming, 2017)

“Ragnarok and a Hard Place” (forthcoming to Indie GoGo supporters, 2020)

And I have more burbling in my head, worry not. Cassie’s not going anywhere, and I already have an agreement with Plus One Press (publishers of the first collection) to do a second collection once I have enough stories for it, to be titled Ragnarok and a Hard Place.

There are also Cassie vignettes available to folks who support my Patreon:

  • “A Windy Night in December at Mayor Fred’s Saloon” (takes place between “Fish Out of Water” and “Seven-Mile Race”)
  • “Papa’s Pool” (takes place in 1938)
  • “No Vacancies” (takes place between “Cayo Hueso” and “God of Blunder”)
  • “Spoiler Warning” (takes place between “Behind the Wheel” and “Ragnarok and a Hard Place”)
  • “Cover Me” (takes place between “Ragnarok and Roll” and “I Believe I’m Sinkin’ Down”)
  • “Cheaters Never Win” (takes place between “Behind the Wheel” and “Ragnarok and a Hard Place”)
  • “Just Come Down for the Weekend, But That Was 25 Years Ago” (takes place prior to “Down to the Waterline”)’
  • “Prophet and Loss” (takes place prior to “How You Can Prevent Forest Fires…”)
  • “Chickens Come Home to Roost” (takes place between “Behind the Wheel” and “Ragnarok and a Hard Place”)
  • “Newport Folk Festival” (takes place between “God of Blunder” and “Fish Out of Water”)