New Book Soon

My first fantasy adventure story is coming soon. I’m looking for pre-publication readers, also known as Advanced Review Copy readers, to give feedback. It’s my hope that each ARC reader will also post an honest review on Amazon when the book is published. If you’re interested, sign up at this link.

Gates of Fire and Ash – Blurb

Gates of Fire and Ash is an adventure story set in a world limited to medieval technology after an ice age destroyed modern civilization centuries ago.

Royar Abele escapes the brutality of his father and brothers at the age of twelve when his rare ability to communicate with dogs wins him a place in the Army’s elite hundteam school. Now, sixteen-year-old Royar and his trusted dog, Felmer, are ready for their new lives as scouts.

But, he never dreamed their first mission would determine the future of the country and its people. They and their teammates deal with vicious animals, treacherous humans and deadly weather, but worst of all they face the horror and death that is the Gates of Fire and Ash.

Will they succeed where so many others have failed?


Dear Santa

xmas-tree    Dear Santa,

It was my sister’s fault. Well, she didn’t light the fire. I did that, but there’s no doubt she caused the damage, and she could have stopped it if she hadn’t been running so fast. She’s selfish like that.

The fire wasn’t that big. It charred the front leg of Mommy’s favorite chair. I sat in it, so I know it’s okay. It does smell odd. Mommy says a skunk peed on it. I didn’t see a skunk, so I think she was wrong. Nobody’s noticed the scorched leg on Daddy’s chair. It always smells funny according to Mommy.

This all started in Mrs. Gold’s third-grade class. She showed us how to make candles and told us to make one to celebrate the holidays. Bobbie Schultz said our teacher was Jewish and didn’t like Christmas. I don’t know why she doesn’t like Christmas. For that matter, I don’t know what Jewish is, but Bobbie is smart. He knows the time’s tables all the way to thirteen.

Most kids made candles that looked like Rudolph, Frosty, or an angel. Two kids made pitchforks. They called them mininoras, I think. Zachery made a Navytea scene. It had little farm animals in a circle around a butterfly larva. I asked Zachery if it was a Monarch. He said it was a Baby Jesus. I’d never heard of that kind of butterfly. They probably come from Utah like Zachery.

I think I upset Mrs. Gold. I didn’t mean to. Honest, I didn’t. I made a devil. Mommy wouldn’t let me be a devil for Halloween–I had to wear Sara’s old Princess Jasmine costume. My devil was really cool, Santa. It had goat legs, the body of a man and the head of a bull. The bull horns had wicks in them. It was all red like you are, but not so round. Daddy says it’s not nice to call people fat. I hope round is okay. Anyway, it was sooooo cool. It didn’t stand up very well, so I glued on Popsicle sticks–they looked like snow skis.

Mommy and Daddy went shopping after dinner last night and left Sara and me to protect the house. I put the last ornaments on the Christmas tree, which sat between Mommy and Daddy’s chairs in front of the fireplace. We don’t use the fireplace because it’s anyfishunt. But, we still have a log lighter. I know, because I saw Daddy point it at Mommy like a gun. He said, ‘I’m going to light your fire woman.’ I wonder if I was adopted, sometimes.

Mommy and Daddy would be home soon, and I wanted to surprise them with my devil. I stood on Mommy’s chair to put the devil on the mantle. It looked great next to Grandma’s antique quilt on the wall.

“Sara where is the log lighter?”

She continued texting and mumbled, “On the hearth by Dad’s chair.”

“Thank you,” I said, but she ignored me, like always.

I had to stand on the armrest to reach the devil horns. The first one lit easily. I stretched to reach the second horn. The wick had started to flicker when Sara screamed, “What are you doing?”

I yelped and lost my balance. My hand caught the devil’s skis, and we both fell into the Christmas tree which fell on Sara. She squealed and ran like the wind. I landed on my back and stood up. The devil ignited the tree skirt which exploded in flames that died down quickly after I threw Mommy’s poinsettia plant on it. The ceiling sprinklers helped, too.

I hope you take it easy on Sara. I know this horrible incident was her fault, but she tries hard to be good. Sometimes things just don’t work out for her.

By the way, I’d like a Lego Super Hero High School for Christmas.

Yours most sincerely truly,

Elsie Montgomery, age 7 and 3/4ths.

(c) 2016 David P. Cantrell

The Hideout

The Hideout by David P. Cantrell

A friend challenged me to write a short story (under 950 words) using one word from each column from this graphic. I chose hideous, princess and sword. My story follows.

Word Graphic

I love my hideout. I can spy on the kitchen and Gigi when she’s in her bedroom and my mom and dad’s bedroom too. But, I don’t spy on mom and dad’s bedroom anymore because it makes me feel bad, like when I threw a rock at a bird and hurt it.

Gigi’s different. She’s dad’s little princess and gets away with all kinds of stuff. I hate her—she’s hideous. I feel good when I spy on her.

I didn’t like our new house at first. It was old and creepy and none of my friends lived on the street. But, it’s not so bad now. I like Tommy and he’s just two doors down the block. I’m going to show him my hideout today after school and Little League practice.


“Bobby, get the door,” Gigi yelled.

“You get it. I’m upstairs,” I yelled back.

“My hair’s wet. Please get the door.”

I ran downstairs.

“You’re always wet. Wet hair, wet nails, I bet you’ve got wet pants too,” I said.

It was Tommy at the door. We ran to my upstairs room. I braced the door with my sword.

“What’s the stick for?” Tommy said.

“It’s my sword, Thunder Bolt. I’m using it to keep people out of my room by blocking the door. I learned how to do it watching TV.”

“Oh.” Tommy sat on my bed.

“I have a hideout that nobody in the whole world knows about. Do you promise not to tell if I show it to you?”

“I promise. Where is it?” Tommy said.

“In my closet.”

Tommy laughed and said, “Everybody hides in their closet. That’s silly.”

“Oh yeah. Just wait and see.”

I got my flashlight and took him to my closet. It was deeper than the one in my old house and had a regular door, not a sliding one. My good clothes hung from hangers on one side and my regular clothes were in a dresser on the other side. In the back were boxes with my little-kid toys inside. I moved the stuffed animal box and shined the light on the floor.

“See,” I said.

“I don’t see anything Bobby. You’re weird.”

“I am not. Look carefully.”

Tommy studied the floor in the corner and rubbed his hand on the floorboards.

“Why is there a cut across the boards?”

“Because there’s a secret door in the floor,” I said proudly.

“That’s so cool. Where does it go?”

“I’ll show you.”

I spit on the suction cup of my crossbow dart and pressed it to the floorboard and pulled enough to get my fingers under the edge. The hatch came out easily. The hole was big enough for an adult and easily accommodated Tommy and me. A big piece of plywood was nailed to first-floor ceiling joists just below the opening. We knelt on all fours then I shined the light around.

“Bobby you’ve got the best hideout ever.”

“Thanks, Tommy. It is real cool. Look, there are trails that go to different parts of the house.”

* * *

 Plywood paths followed electrical and plumbing conduits around the crawlspace that had been built during the addition of the second-floor decades earlier. None of that mattered to Tommy and Bobby—they were in heaven. They spent many afternoons hiding from pirates and evil witches in the hideout. Sometimes they spied on Gigi through a tiny hole and listened to her talk to her friends on Skype. They pretended they were FBI agents gathering evidence against terrorists. Once they giggled when they saw her kiss Jordon Bronson. She looked at the ceiling and scared them away.

The boys had great fun until the exterminator came. It was the last day of summer vacation. Bobby’s dad took a day off to deal with the problem that had bothered his wife and daughter for months—a critter in the attic was the presumption. Bobby and Tommy lay on their plywood perch over the kitchen and listened.

“My wife and daughter have heard creaking sounds and chirps in the ceiling. I heard it once and it didn’t sound like the settling noises that come with an old home. I want you to kill whatever is up there.”

“Sir, we are a humane service and do our best to relocate the offending creatures. But, if necessary, we’ll use lethal force,” the exterminator said.

Bobby and Tommy freaked. They scurried back to the hatch, but Tommy’s pant leg got caught on a nail head.

“Help me, Bobby. I don’t want to be relocated.”

Tommy wanted to help him get loose but couldn’t reach the snag. He had to make a decision: save Tommy or confess his spying. He decided to save his friend. He scrambled out of the hatch and ran downstairs to the kitchen.

He stopped at the doorway. His mom and dad were sitting with Gigi and Jordon at the kitchen table drinking coffee.

“Where’s the exterminator?” Bobby asked.

“Right here,” Jordon said and raised his hand.

Bobby gaped at the scene for a moment before he understood what had happened.

His dad said, “Son, it’s not nice to spy on people, particularly your family.”

“I’m sorry dad. I won’t do it again.”

Everyone laughed when they heard Tommy’s muffled promise: “Me too.”