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Short Story: The Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead

The past year has been incredibly busy. There have been Hutchmoots (yes, plural), Kickstarter campaigns, Molehills, memberships, Anglican Ways, Wolf Kings, Slugs and Bugs, and a slew of other things to work on (many of which are still piled on my desk). Amid all that I’ve had people asking, “When is your next book coming out?”—in answer to which I have generally shrugged my shoulders and wondered the same thing.

Since Fiddler’s Green was published at the end of 2010, I’ve been telling myself that as soon as I have time, I’ll get to work on the next project. But the last few years have taught me that such thinking is a sure road to nowhere. If I’m going to write, I’m going to have to make the time. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now, but I suppose I’m stubborn (my wife is nodding her head emphatically as you read this).

This year, I’m changing my tack. I’m committed to writing a short story each month. Making time for a novel feels like too much at this point in life, but I can make time for something more bite-sized, and I’ve always loved short stories. I grew up reading collections of strange tales, ghost stories, and odd accounts about everything from the Bermuda Triangle to the Tunguska Fireball. I gobbled up Poe, Lovecraft, and King in my teens and have grown to love Chekov, Tolstoy, and O’Connor as an adult. Since the inception of the Rabbit Room I’ve written quite a few shorts of my own and have learned to really enjoy the form.

So I began this project, which I call Tales of an Unremembered Country, last month and I’m releasing the first fruit of it today. This tale, “Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead,” is about a hapless colonel and his long-suffering lieutenant, who are reassigned to a Confederate outpost in the Appalachian Mountains. The road they take to get to their new garrison, however, might just lead them somewhere else entirely. If you’ve read the Fiddler’s books, you may recognize some parts of the world in which this is set. I’ll leave it at that.

The story is available as a PDF in the Rabbit Room store (you can read a sample here), and in the Amazon store via Kindle (Amazon reviews are much appreciated!). This month’s tale includes an illustration by Jonny Jimison, and I hope to involve a variety of illustrators in these stories throughout the year. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll have another for you next month.


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