Slayer of Darkness


Slayer of Darkness was the third installment of the Beyond the Rails series, and the first to be a full-length novel rather than a collection of stories tied loosely together by an arc.  I had some initial difficulty getting it going, but once I had the right mix of characters in play, it took off like a runaway blimp!  There are two main plots playing off of, and interfering with each other:  First, the young hooligan Jinx Jenkins, first met in Beyond the Rails, returns, and the crew is astonished to discover that she is far from the larrikin she presented herself as in the first book.  Second, Dave Smith’s past finally catches up with him in a most inconvenient manner.  I’ll quote the blurb here:

It’s March of 1883, and the inhabitants of the east African colony of Kenya are preparing for the Long Rain.  The crew of the Kestrel, a small cargo blimp, are no exception, trying to squeeze in the last few paying runs before two months of high winds and constant rain sweep the airships from the sky.

Arriving in their midst is an old acquaintance, an Australian woman of uncertain background who brings an unbelievable story, and asks them to aid her in what seems to be an impossible task.  She offers to pay them well, but can the money she offers be nearly enough to compensate them for the danger she plans to place them in?  And what business could the mysterious team of international bounty hunters be engaged upon?

Join the crew of the Kestrel for their longest journey yet, a thrill-packed, suspenseful ride through a world of shadowy operators that could prove to be their last.”

This is indeed the last book in the series to date.  It is not my intention for it to end here, but right now I’m working on the spinoff, The Darklighters, and it is a fact that I’m leaning hard on 70.  But the fates willing, there will be more.  Right now, you can embark for the whole ride at

View from the Blimp

In the interest of generating more interest, I have lowered the Kindle price of the original Beyond the Rails volume to 99¢ US.  I would lower the price of the paperback as well, but it’s always been at the minimum allowed.  I’m not trying to get rich off my writing… good thing, huh?!  No, it’s just that after five years, I’ve received enough reviews to know that I write a good story, and I want to share the joy I find in my work with the people who find joy in a rip-snortin’ adventure tale without all the obligatory modern trappings of gratuitous sex and unnecessary violence for their own sake.  I’m asking you to spend a buck, and see if you don’t get a buck’s worth of entertainment!

The perceptive among you will have noticed that I have backed off from a lot of social media where I used to hang out, liking and/or commenting on just about everything that hit the page.  I’m still around, still enjoying your material, but I tend to look at it once a day now, maybe twice, because this stuff is a huge drain on my writing.  The problem is that I write on the computer, so it’s just too easy to get stuck for word or a line, and say, “I need a break.  Wonder what they’re doing on Facebook…”  Time to apply the discipline to get that nonsense off the table!  I leave my email open all the time I’m around the computer, so if you specifically need anything, drop me a line, and I’ll get it fairly quickly.

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me again Saturday, when I’ll be presenting a general post about something or other.  I have a couple of choices to narrow down, but it’ll be good.  See you then!


The Second Sojourn


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Soldier of the Crown was my second foray into the world of colonial Africa aboard the airship Kestrel.  I put great effort into continuing the format of the original adventures, and flatter myself that I succeeded nicely; my reviewers have indulged in the same sort of flattery, so there must be something to it!

Kenya plays host to a monsoonal flow known locally as “The Long Rain,” in which 7 – 9 inches fall each month during April and May.  While there actually were no airships plying their trade in colonial Kenya, I arbitrarily decided that this would be a non-flying season when the aeronauts took their vacations, saw to needed repairs, and just whatever needed down-time to accomplish.  In Soldier of the Crown, the Long Rain is ending, and Kestrel and the other airships servicing the trade, about a half-dozen in all, are wrapping up their time on the ground and preparing to resume their day-to-day activities.  I picked up some of the loose ends from Beyond the Rails, left others for future exploration, and even created one or two new ones.  Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

British East Africa in the 1880s.  A place of mystery, intrigue, and danger.  Powerful tribes, many hostile, the descendants of once-great empires, rule the plains and forests.  European colonial powers jostle for advantage as they struggle to push inland from their coastal enclaves.  A rail line is being driven from Mombasa toward Lake Victoria, drawing laborers and speculators from every civilized continent.  The rails have reached Nairobi, a still-tiny boom town where wealthy entrepreneurs rub shoulders with cutthroats and railroad workers, but to reach out further, one must travel by foot or wagon, or by one of the ramshackle airships that connect the scattered settlements.

One such ship is Kestrel, once a steam powered river lighter designed to haul cargoes up the shallow streams that reach inland from the coast.  Rescued from the scrapyard and slung beneath a balloon, she has been given a second chance at life as a carrier in the aerial cargo trade.

Business is good in the booming colony, but in every pub and hostel, at the end of every pier, in the alley behind each tavern lurk dangerous men (and women!) of questionable motives, each with his own scheme to claim his share of the colony’s wealth, by whatever means come readily to hand.  No one completely escapes brushes with these charlatans, and Captain Clinton Monroe’s crew is no exception.  Join them aboard the Kestrel as they sail the skies to high adventure.”

I don’t honestly know how I can make a description any more exciting than that, and judging by the reviews (5 stars on Amazon, 4.83 on Goodreads), what’s inside lives up to what’s on the cover.  Tickets are only $2.99; climb aboard for a ride to high adventure!

View from the Blimp


Just one bit of news today, and it has more to do with the way I view the world than any sort of writing activity.  My whole life, I’ve had to have watches that show the time in a half-dozen time zones, the moon phase, the tide status, I have a beautiful analog that incorporates a stopwatch and a circular slide rule around the bezel.   But I’m retired now, and the way I structure my day is changing…  And I have found the watch to measure my retirement!  Behold the Collared Carpetshark.  Black rubber shock resistant, waterproof housing, brushed leather band, and the most important feature, only one hand!  The yellow hour hand makes one  sweep every 12 hours.  This is rapidly changing the way I view time.  Nothing is in a rush anymore.  Nothing has to be done in the next five minutes.  Do I know what time it is?  Yeah, sort of.  Tough on folks who ask me for the time, and I say, “around five-ish.”  Sure is easy on my stress absorber, though.

I am reliably informed that the earliest clocks only had an hour hand, giving the farmer or the artisan a general idea of where in the cycle of the day things stood, when to eat lunch, that sort of thing.  It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that minute hands made an appearance, ushering in the era of the psychotically draconian mid-level manager standing at the door tapping his watch, and bellowing, “You’re two minutes late, Johnson!  I’m going to dock you an hour’s pay!”  We’re still “enjoying” that era, and what I’ve observed so far leads me to believe that those were much happier times despite the lack of indoor plumbing…

Other Interesting Reads


Meta Worlds:  A Police Officer on a trail of a Serial Killer, whose investigations leads to the mysterious Saul Priest and astonishing revelations of a secret war being fought across Time and Dimensions, and Meta-Mercs Investigations (MMi), the crime-fighting team with extra-ordinary abilities that society discover that they desperately need…  These are the stories and more that is Meta Worlds.

With a stunning and original painted cover art by the renowned, Award Winning Artist, Ciara McAvoy, who has won numerous awards for her work in the film industry, including five total Communicator Awards in 2015 for FilthX-Men and Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, and interior illustrations by talented Comic-Book Artist, Creator and Writer of the British based Superhero Comic, Vanguard, Meta Worlds introduces a new type of storytelling for the Twenty-First Century.  Available on Amazon in hard cover only.  £12.00.


Book of Schemes I:  Simply defined, a “scheme” is nothing more than a systematic plan of action.  Like snowflakes, no two of them are exactly alike.  For example:  What if the 7 Deadly Sins operated out of a beauty salon?  What if a blind rock musician got framed for war crimes in another galaxy?  What if you could buy a Murderer’s License from the DMV?  Within this 2nd Edition collection is a bizarre grouping of 25 short stories.  Each of them revolves around a scheme.  Some are brilliant.  Others are stupid.  A special few of them are utterly warped.  So kick back, leave your conscience outside of these pages, and step into the world of the schemers.  $3.00 on Kindle.


There is Wisdom in Black Seas and Eternal Lands beyond the visions of the mundane world, where all dreams and nightmares intersect to become one.  There is blood, and spirit, which fuel the hearts and minds of expert magicians, allowing them to break through the fabric of illusions and penetrate the core of existence.  In this occult, dark fantasy of pirates, witches, and mages, we see reality in its uncompromising, unmistakable form.  Short story, 99c on Kindle.

Finally, let us mark the return of the Atoms & Shadows feature of The Rail Baron’s blog.  This is a weekly look at two old movies, one Sci-Fi and one Noir, with a commentary by William J. Jackson, a true lover of the genres.  I enjoyed this a great deal when it was a weekly feature, and hopefully it is back for a good long run.  William explains all the background in his post, so go have a read, and enjoy a double feature.  It’s on me.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Sunday, Father’s Day, for a new issue of Blimprider Times.  See you then!


Jack’s Bookshelf

The Stone Seekers


The Settlements clung precariously to a hostile shore where the very ground opposed them.  The people, fleeing a vicious tyrant, had crossed an ocean to get here, and had nowhere else to go.  They bore with them a parting gift from a powerful mage, the Wellstone, an artifact that could locate clean water among the vile poisons their new land offered.  When it is stolen in a raid by creatures of the surrounding forest, there is no choice but to go in pursuit.  But with who?  The entire combined militia of all the towns haven’t the power to overcome the forest denizens, so a skilled tracker and a savage warrior are sent to achieve through stealth what cannot be accomplished by force.  What possible chance could two people have?”

The Stone Seekers, under its original title The Wellstone Chronicles, was the last manuscript that I sent out into the world to do battle with the traditional publishers.  Like the four novels before it, it was wildly successful in its quest for rejection, and I eventually put it on the shelf with the others as something it would be fun for my grandchildren to find after I was gone.

But then came the modest success of the self-published Beyond the Rails series of steampunk adventures in colonial Africa, and a dangerous thought began to grow in the dark corridors of my mind:  What if The Wellstone Chronicles really was a good story, and it just hadn’t found the right acquisition editor?  This year marked the 15th anniversary of its writing, and I decided to celebrate by dusting it off, polishing the prose, changing the title to one more accurately describing the plot, and subjecting it to the same self-publishing process that made me an icon of the steampunk world… well, a court jester, anyway!

Process completed, it has been for sale on Amazon since the end of April, and garnered its first review last Monday.

Can there be anything new in epic fantasy?  Tolkien casts an enormous shadow.  Well, the answer is: yes!

Jack Tyler has given us a new world.  One that is refreshingly different.  There are no orcs, or dwarves, or elves here.  But you won’t miss them.  Not at all.”

Thus begins said review, and it goes on to describe a bit of the plot and style of the author while deftly avoiding spoilers of any kind.  The entire review can be read at, and as long as you’re there, why not drop 99c US, and pick up what one reviewer has called “a yarn worth reading.”  Could be a buck well-spent!

View from the Blimp

As well as the epic review referred to above, Beyond the Rails also pulled in another five-star notice yesterday.  I write in a style gone by, and it amazes me no end to see first-hand how well it is received by the reading public.  Perhaps those avant-garde authors that overwhelmed the trade in the ’60s ushered out a style we weren’t quite finished with yet.  Now, if only I had the cash to promote my work as much as I wish I could…

In Other News…

I have often mentioned a friend in my discussions here and elsewhere, and I’m going to do it again.  His name is Richard Schulte, and he is one of the most giving people I’ve ever encountered.  He is best-known for his photoblog, Cool San Diego Sights, where he has posted to date well over 15,000 quality pictures of San Diego and its surrounding back country.  He has recently announced that anyone who wishes may use any of his photographs as a book cover or illustration for no charge beyond crediting him in some form, usually on the book’s acknowledgement page.  That’s one of his photos that graces the cover of The Stone Seekers.

But Richard’s true love is writing, specifically short stories, stories so short that we writers give them their own subcategory, Flash Fiction.  He doesn’t sell his stories, but collects them, free for all to read, on his other website, Short Stories By Richard.  The man just wants to share, and if you take guilty pleasure in slices of life delivered in bite-size wafers, you very much should pay my friend a visit.  He’s a most accomplished observer, whether with pen or camera!

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Monday for a discussion about fear, and its place in literature.  Until then, read well, and write better!