A few of my favorite things: The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice’s Moon Colony Bloodbath (2009)

In 2009, The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice released Moon Colony Bloodbath. The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle described the nineteen minute EP as a “loose” concept album with a science-fiction theme: “Some of the songs have something to do with a loose rock opera/’concept album’ idea about organ harvesting colonies on the moon and the employees thereof, who spent their off months living in secluded opulence in remote American locations. Concepts like this are actually more fun when you abandon them but leave their traces kicking around, so that’s what we did.”

I discovered Moon Colony Bloodbath from this io9 article, for which I will be forever grateful. After I got ahold of the EP, I must have listened to it on repeat dozens of times in the first week alone (though that’s admittedly easy to do with something just nineteen minutes long). The first song, “Surrounded,” begins with the line “pale white moon shines down on Colorado,” and, at the time, I was in Colorado in winter. With its chilling theme, and Moon Colony Bloodbath was the perfect accompaniment for driving down dark winter roads at night.

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5 self-published Kindle short stories: an overview

Last week, I made an offer on reddit’s /r/selfpublish, calling for submissions of self-published Kindle short stories from which I could pick up to 5 to review. A part of my criteria for the stories I chose was fewer than 5 reviews on Amazon. As you might know, reviews and recommendations are important for getting your work noticed. Not many people want to gamble their money on something with very few reviews. And no reviews? Forget about it. I wanted to offer other authors the chance to get one of those initial reviews.

A bit about my process: I read what each author submitted, then used’s Amazon’s Look Inside to preview the first page or two of the story. Based on my interests and what I read, I tried to pick the stories that I thought I would most like. I read the stories in the order I purchased them, highlighting and taking notes within the Kindle text as I went. After I finished reading, I wrote my initial impression and some more substantial notes before moving on to the next story.

Finally, I wrote my reviews over the course of a couple days, taking my time to balance and polish each. I wanted to highlight positive aspects as I found them, but I also wanted to be honest.

So, without further ado, here are the five Kindle short stories I chose, and a summary of my reviews.

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Review: “Township 7: Life continues, even as society changes.” by T. K. (2015)

This is the final review in a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish.

Township 7: Life continues, even as society changes by T. K. (2015)The longest of all the stories chosen, T. K.’s “Township 7: Life continues, even as society changes.” [sic] is an exploration of global climate change and transhumanism as depicted through a report penned by an anthropomorphic purple dinosaur. Yes, the main character is an anthropomorphic purple dinosaur named Rex. Since this could be a decisive factor for potential readers, I emphasize this upfront because—at this time of this review—the book’s description and other reviews don’t mention this.

Rex is one of many Critters, a new form of mankind appearing after great advances in cybernetics make their existence possible. They are humans transplanted into an exoskeleton that morphs to match their inner “second self.” This half of the plot is very reminiscent of furries and what that group might look like with the technology to make fursuits a real extension, or replacement, for a human body.

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When the Muse strikes: Inspiration from the inhumane


Warning: the videos included and discussed below are graphic in nature.


Inspiration can strike like a lightning bolt—sudden and intense—or come on like a slow simmer, gradually erupting into a something of an idea. Greater writers than I have addressed the subject of ideas and inspiration. (A particular favorite of mine is Neil Gaiman’s 1997 essay “Where do you get your ideas?”) But everyone has a different process with the Muse, so I will explore where I found inspiration for some of my recent stories: “Dead Meat Running” and “The Hunt.”

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“The Hunt” is available for pre-order today

What’s new?

Since I had so much fun with the novelette contest in February, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for other contests. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to light a fire under my ass and get me motivated.

/r/WritingPrompts is in the middle of another contest, but this time for flash fiction. Flash fiction presents the challenge of finding the perfect story to be written in a limited number of words. For someone who likes to tell stories, it means cutting back on embellishments and detours, and getting back to the brass tacks of a tale. Such limitations can be frustrating, but also rewarding when a story turns out right.

Experimentation for this contest resulted in “The Copse” and you can read it here.

If flash fiction’s too short for you, keep an eye out for my next Amazon Kindle release: “The Hunt.” From the description:

"The Hunt" by J. H. Dierking

“The Hunt” is a science fiction short story of 7,000 words.

An expedition to another world. A group of alien hunters. Malcolm thinks he is prepared, but the hunt will be more savage than he expected.

“The Hunt” is available for pre-order as a Kindle e-Book from Amazon. It is scheduled for release on August 15th.

What’s next?

First, I want to focus on editing Two in the Bush by expanding it a bit and polishing up some rough spots. And since the story was left so open-ended, I have a sequel in the works. I think I will keep it a novelette/novella length and develop an episodic series. A series will be fun to work on. I have no firm plan for when the novelette and its sequel will be released, but I would like to aim for December.

What comes after that? We’ll see. I’m kicking around a few short stories in various stages between just-started to mostly-done. I also have the first draft of another novella simmering on the back burner, waiting to be eviscerated before giving it to my firstline reader for feedback.

Stay tuned.

– J