Trevor H. Cooley Author of the Bowl of Souls Series.

Author Archives: Trevor Cooley

Protector of the Grove Audiobook Now Available!

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Howdy folks!

Protector of the Grove; The Bowl of Souls: Book Seven and Part Two of the Jharro Grove Saga is available now! Andrew Tell did a fantastic job with the narration as usual.Here is the back cover blurb for those of you that are unfamiliar.

“Jhonate’s reprieve from her father has been cut short. She is forced to return home to Malaroo, bringing Justan along with her. The journey she has avoided for so long has become all the more difficult because someone wants Justan dead.
The rogue horse Esmine, a mythical beast of remarkable power, has been captured by a troupe of dwarf smugglers. They are taking her to the nation Alberri where a gnome scholar awaits with a vicious plan to sacrifice the beast and bind its powerful soul to make a weapon of mass destruction. Tarah Woodblade must gather a group of warriors and rescue Esmine before she is taken to Alberri.
Evil stirs. Darkness is building. But can anyone trust Xedrion, The Protector of the Grove?”

Here is the Audible link:

It will show up on Amazon and Itunes within the next few days.

In additional news, I am still working on finalizing Noose Jumpers. It has taken me a lot longer than expected. The pressures of creating a new world that exists within our own history has been more complicated than expected. There is a lot more research involved and quite frankly there has been a bunch of stressful other junk I have been going through that has slowed me down. Still, I am mostly finished with the book. More updates to follow!



Noose Jumpers Preview Chapter 2:

Howdy Folks,

Things have been a little quiet on the site for the last few weeks, I know.  The writing of this book has taken longer than expected. Partially because this is an all new world and all new characters and has required more research and creation time than I thought it would. Also partially because I am in the middle of trying to sell my old house and purchase the one we have been living in the past two years, (A long story that I don’t need to get into here.) Thus, the release date has been pushed back a bit. I’ll tell you know something more specific when I am close to being finished.

In the meantime, as an apology for the delay, here is a second preview chapter of Noose Jumpers. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first one, (The Death of Bobby Estrella) it’s here.

Also if you haven’t seen the short film that I wrote based on the concepts in this book, you really should. It was directed by my brother, Jared Cooley (who you might recognize from the cover of War of Stardeon), and stars some great hollywood actors. See it HERE.

One last thing. Narration is underway for Protector of the Grove. We hope to have the audiobook available for purchase by the end of the month.

Now here you go. Preview chapter 2.


A Glassful of Worms

An excerpt from The Tale of Luke Bassett


“A bit o’ the devil in every bottle!” – Promise made by a horned cherub in an ad for ‘El Diablo Fine Spirits’ placed in the Tombstone Epitaph, June 21, 1886


The mid-summer sun blazed overhead as Luke reigned in his horse atop a dusty hillside just outside of Luna Gorda. He paused to peer down into the town below and a frown tightened his brow. So much had changed.

The town, which had already doubled in size in the twelve years since Estrella’s hanging, was quickly growing. The railway station in Luna Gorda had only been complete for just a few short months, but a whole new street of buildings had already been constructed. The builders weren’t finished, either. Luke saw the pale skeletal frames of several structures and could hear the rap of hammers and nail.

He supposed that the changes were a positive thing for the locals. More people passing through would mean more money brought in. His mother would be busy running the schoolhouse and with all the new construction, his stepfather was likely bringing home a lot of money. What Luke didn’t like was the possibility of Luna Gorda turning into a major town. More people meant more law.

Luke wiped the back of his arm across his brow and sighed at the muddy streak of sweat he left behind on the sleeve of his duster. The weather on his journey had been hot and windy. Dirt coated him like a gray blanket.

He slid down from his horse and removed his duster, shaking the road dust off of it. Luke folded it and put it away into his saddlebag, then beat the dirt off of his hat and pulled out a small mirror to examine his image. He saw that the duster had protected his finely-tailored blue suitcoat and vest against the majority of the dirt but, except for the one clean spot in the center of his forehead, his face was filthy.

Luke untied his canteen from the saddle and shook it. He had filled it at a creek early that morning and it was still half full. He took a quick swig, then used some of the water to wet down a clean bandana. He began to wipe the grime off of his face, keeping an eye on the mirror to be sure that he was getting all of it.

The face that appeared from under the dirt was still as freckled as it had been when he was a boy, though his face had filled out some. A thick red goatee now grew around his lips and prominent jaw. The green eyes that looked back at him had seen a lot in the past few years and there was a hardness in them that Luke noted with satisfaction.

“Primping?” asked a deep throaty voice.

A black horse appeared next to Luke’s, forming into existence with an audible whoosh. The Stranger sat astride it on a saddle red as blood. A black mist wafted around them for a brief moment before evaporating into the air. The Stranger wore his familiar black duster and black hat and, unlike Luke’s, both were clean of dust. He cocked his head and gave Luke a questioning look with his good eye.

Luke spared his theatrical arrival little more than a glance. He continued to wipe the dirt and sweat from his neck. “Aren’t you the one who told me how important appearances are?”

“It’s true folks should see you’re not some common dirty outlaw,” the Stranger conceded. “But no need to polish up standing out here in the open.”

“No one’s paying me any mind right now but you,” Luke replied. Satisfied with his appearance, he put the mirror and damp cloth away. He then reached down with his left hand and drew his revolver.

It was a well-used Smith and Wesson top break revolver with a smooth action and mahogany grips. It was his favorite gun, purchased with the money from his first big score. Quickly, Luke inspected it, wiping a thin coat of road dust off of it. He cracked the weapon open to spin the cylinder. He had cleaned it the night before, but it never hurt to check again.

Nodding in satisfaction, he slid it back into the holster at his waist. Then he reached his right hand into his suitcoat to withdraw his spare gun from its shoulder holster under his left arm. Luke knew it had probably been protected from the dirt, but he checked it anyway. This one was also a top break revolver, as he preferred, but he wasn’t sure of the manufacturer. It had a short barrel and a five shot-cylinder. The dead man he had taken it from had claimed he’d had it custom made, but there were no markings on it that Luke could find.

“You expecting trouble?” the Stranger asked, his voice filled with irritation.

Luke gazed down the hole in the barrel and spun the cylinder again. “You’ve always demanded I be prepared.”

“Still shouldn’t check your gun so often,” the Stranger said. “Makes you look nervous.”

“You seem awfully particular today,” Luke replied with a chuckle. He snapped his spare gun closed and put it away. He looked the Stranger in the eye. “Is there a problem I should know about?”

“Problem?” A cigar appeared in the Stranger’s fingers. He lifted it to his lips and blew on the end. The tip of the cigar burst into flame. He turned his eye to the streets of Luna Gorda below. “It’s this town. I don’t like it when you come back here. It’s a weakness.”

Luke snorted and climbed back up onto his horse. “It’s just a town, Stranger. No different from any other.”

The specter took a deep draw from his cigar. Smoke curled around his lips as he said, “Bobby Estrella told me the same thing.” Then he and his horse disappeared in a burst of black mist.

Luke winced. He had grown used to his mentor’s dark and demanding demeanor, but that last remark had hit a bit close to home. He shrugged it off and rode down the hillside towards Luna Gorda.

The new section of town was busy with people strutting about, some of them in fancy dress. These weren’t locals, but travelers stopping in town along the way. From the dearth of horses, many of them were likely passengers perhaps waiting for the next train to Albuquerque. The newest buildings were inns and shops built solely for the purpose of catering to the needs of these visitors.

For some reason this made Luke’s skin crawl. This place reminded him of other towns, bigger ones. It seemed wrong for something like this to spring up in Luna Gorda. He quickly turned down an alleyway and headed for the old main street.

Some of the tension left his shoulders as the familiar buildings came into view. Yet even here there were changes. The windows of the old barber shop were boarded up, the barber pole taken down. The street wasn’t even as well maintained as in years past. The huge ruts left by carriages on rainy days past hadn’t been filled in.

Luke paused outside the sheriff’s office, noting that there was no rocking chair in its place in front of the jailhouse. Old Sheriff Paul had retired a few years back and his replacement, Sheriff Dale, had decided to part with tradition. Luke’s eyes were drawn to the bounty board outside the office and a smile crossed his lips as he saw some familiar faces.

A peal of raucous laughter from across the street caught Luke’s attention. He slid down from his horse and tied it up outside the saloon. This, at least, would be a place where he could feel at home. His smile faltered when he saw that the old saloon sign had been taken down. In its place was a newly painted sign that said, Hank’s Saloon. Luke pushed his way through the swinging doors and stepped inside.

At least the interior hadn’t changed much. He found the familiar jumble of mismatched chairs and tables comforting. The only surprise was how empty the place was. Even though it was only mid-afternoon, the place was usually at least half-full of travelers and the sound of piano playing could be heard from the street. Today, the piano at the back of the room stood vacant and there was only one table occupied.

The three men sitting there were talking loudly and laughing like they had been drinking for a long while already. Luke’s eyes gave them a practiced glance. There were two bottles of liquor opened on the table and they were playing a game of cards but there was no cash at stake. The two of them with their backs to him wore pistol belts, but he dismissed them as a threat. Their clothes weren’t dirty and the fact that there hadn’t been any horses tied outside told him they had likely come by train.

Luke walked up to the bar and eyed the old barman who was facing away from him, cleaning a glass. “When did you start calling the place ‘Hank’s Saloon’?”

The barman spun around, rag and glass in hand, and blinked in surprise at his sudden appearance. A reproachful smile lit up his weathered face. “Well, hello to you too, Luke.”

Luke raised an eyebrow in response. “The hello was implied.”

The old man chuckled. “Got the new sign done last week. Some railroad tycoon built a saloon of his own next to the station. Don’t want folks to get confused.” He cocked his head. “You been to see your momma yet?”

“Just pour me some mezcal, Hank,” Luke said.

The men at the table behind him chose that moment to burst out in a round of laughter. Hank shot them an irritated glance, but returned his attention to Luke. “You should see her. I saw her over at the church just this Sunday. I heard her telling the pastor how worried she was, you know with that bounty on your head and all.”

“If I was looking for a lecture I would have been to see her first,” Luke interrupted with a glower. “Mezcal.”

The barman shook his head and placed the glass on the counter in front of Luke. He turned around and grabbed a bottle off of the shelf. “Just see her before you go. I promise I won’t tell her you came here first.”

Hank pulled the stopper and went to pour, but Luke placed his hand over the top of the glass. “Uh-uh. The real thing.”

Hank frowned and bent to fuss around under the counter. Bottles clinked and when he stood back up, he held a dusty clear bottle. He lifted it and wiped off the dust to reveal a gold label with a demonic skull on the front that read, El Diablo Mezcal. There was very little liquor remaining in the bottle and Luke could just make out the fat white worm sitting in the bottom.

“Don’t care what you say!” shouted one of the men at the table. He was the loudest mouthed of the three men, his voice gravelly and thick with whiskey. “I done worked the tracks on three different railroads and I say one injun’s worth ten of them lazy Chinamen!”

Hank rolled his eyes, but didn’t look directly at the men, instead focusing on wiping the dust off the neck of the bottle. He pulled out the stopper and sniffed at the liquid inside, his lips twisted in disgust. “I can’t believe you still like this rotgut, Luke.”

Luke watched as Hank poured the last dregs of the bottle into the glass, skillfully stopping just before the worm fell out. The bartender then started to set the bottle down, but Luke raised his hand. “Don’t spare the worm.”

“You know that thing’s not supposed to be in there,” Hank said, but Luke just gave him a dull look in reply.

Hank sighed. He tilted the bottle over the glass again and tapped the bottom. The pale plump worm tumbled out of the neck and plopped into the glass. Luke picked up the glass and tilted it slowly back, draining a good third of it. He swallowed and hissed through his teeth.

Hank winced. “Disgusting. This brand’s garbage. I used to tell Estrella that too. No decent brewer would let a worm into their liquor.”

“Nonsense,” said the Stranger’s deep voice. The specter appeared in a flash of black mist, leaning against the bar next to Luke. “Diablo is the only brand.”

Luke wasn’t surprised when the bartender didn’t react to the specter’s presence. No one seemed to be able to see or hear the Stranger except for him. He had learned that lesson early on, though it had taken several embarrassing episodes before he had been convinced.

A full glass appeared in the Stranger’s hand. Unlike Luke’s glass, it was filled with living worms. They squirmed in the clear liquor. He lifted it in front of his face and a grin parted the Stranger’s pale lips, exposing a set of yellowed teeth, several of them capped with gold. He chuckled. “A piece of the devil in every glass.”

Luke ignored him and took another swallow. “Don’t make any changes, Hank. That mezcal is why I keep coming back to you.”

While he nursed his drink, the men at the table behind him continued their argument. Evidently they weren’t mere passengers, but employees of the railroad; overseers of the workers. The gravelly-voiced one was highly opinionated and responded angrily to the quieter words of the other men at his table. “I tell you I seen ‘em every day! Sittin’ around the tracks in their stupid hats, layin’ down, beggin’ for water! Hell, the water boys spent half the day fillin’ Chinaman cups.”

“Pshh!” said another one. “C’mon, Gary! No way they’re lazier than any average Irishman. Half the layabouts in every town I been in are red-headed paddies.”

Hank shot Luke a cautious glance. When he was a child, Luke had been sensitive about his red hair and freckled face. He used to get into scraps with the other children when they teased him about it. But if the remark bothered him, Luke didn’t let it show.

“Bull!” said the one they called Gary. “That’s only if they’re drunk. You put a common sober Irishman on the line and he’d outwork any two Chinese!”

“What about the injuns?” asked the calmest of the three. “I used to work the chain gangs and they was always a problem.”

The Stranger growled and drained his glass in one big gulp. He slammed it back down on the bar and said, “Ain’t it a bit loud in here?”

“Damn right,” Luke said under his breath. He threw back his head and poured the last of the liquor into his mouth. The stiff worm tumbled across his tongue and he pinned it between his molars as he swallowed the liquid down.

The burning of the alcohol was nothing compared to the sensation when the worm burst. An acidic tang filled his mouth and the burning sensation travelled upwards from his throat into his mind, settling somewhere just behind his eyes. Luke shook slightly as he let out a slow breath. The Stranger grinned.

“ . . . and we hardly had to water the injuns,” Gary continued at the top of his voice. “Naw! I tell you it don’t matter if a man’s red, black, or brown. They’s all better than them yellow-!”

“Would you shut the hell up?” Luke shouted. He didn’t turn around, but just stared at his empty glass, processing the sensation in his head.

The men at the table were momentarily stunned into silence. Loudmouthed Gary was the first one to come to his senses enough to summon some outrage. “You talkin’ to me?”

“You’re the one hurting my ears,” Luke said, still not bothering to face the man.

The chair scraped against the wood floor as Gary stood. “What’s your problem, boy? Your momma a Chinaman?”

Luke said nothing. He wondered if the burning in his mind had really been caused by the worm or if it was the Stranger’s doing? He’d never had that particular reaction from eating a mezcal worm before. Whatever it was, he sure felt alive.

“You know who I am, boy?” Gary pressed, his low voice threatening.

There was another slight scraping sound and Luke turned his head just enough to catch the man’s silhouette out of the corner of his eye. Gary now held a rifle in his right hand. The reason Luke hadn’t noticed the weapon before was that it had been lying on the ground next to his chair.

Luke’s jaw tightened. How sloppy. “Yeah. You’re the loud one.”

The Stranger chuckled.

Gary growled and strode forward. He gripped his rifle in both hands and swung it back, aiming to slam the butt right into the back of Luke’s neck. He wasn’t expecting his prey to be so fast.

Luke spun, his left hand drawing his sidearm in one fluid motion. He shoved the revolver between Gary’s upraised arms and jabbed the end of the barrel right into the base of the man’s nose. Gary flinched in pain and let go of the rifle with one hand as he stepped back, but Luke moved with him, keeping his front sight jabbed into the man’s septum.

The other two men’s jaws dropped in shock as Gary stumbled backwards. The back of his legs hit the table and he fell backwards across it, sending their liquor bottles spinning onto the floor. Luke didn’t let up, putting one knee up on the table and leaning over the man, his gun still pressing painfully into tender flesh.

Gary cried out in pain and Luke reached for the rifle with his free hand, attempting to pry it from the man’s fingers. Gary resisted until Luke pulled back the hammer with his thumb and pressed harder. Luke’s eyes were feverish with intensity and to Gary it seemed he was looking into the gaze of a madman. Gary let go of his weapon.

“Luke!” said Hank, alarmed. “Don’t pull that in here!”

At that point, one of Gary’s friends had gathered his wits enough to grab his own pistol. Luke sensed the movement and released the rifle. By the time the man brought his weapon to bear, Luke had drawn his spare from the shoulder holster and had it pointed at his face.

“I’d put that back away if I were you,” Luke advised, his intense gaze still focused on the man pinned underneath him.

Gary’s friend trembled. As Luke had drawn his spare, his jacket had flapped open, exposing the offset red star sewn into the silky black interior. He put his gun away, licking his lips as he said, “Red Star, Gary.”

Gary swallowed. “Y-you’re Luke Basset? The gunfighter? I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean nothing about your mama.”

Luke smiled at the recognition in the man’s voice. It was good to know that his reputation was growing. Luke Basset of the Red Star Gang had a $150 bounty and a tendency for challenging other gunfighters.

Luke let his expression grow eager. “So . . . Gary who? You were anxious for me to know. You anyone . . . famous?”

“N-no! I’m a nobody!” Gary promised. “Just a drunk railroad man is all.”

Luke looked at the other two men that shared Gary’s table. “Is that so?”

The two men nodded their heads, backing away. Luke pulled away from Gary and stepped back, letting the man sit up. He kept both guns trained on the men as Gary rubbed blood from his nose with one shaking hand.

“Then get out,” Luke said. “You bother me.”

Gary snatched up his rifle and he and his friends rushed out of the saloon. Luke smiled and put his guns away. He returned to the bar.

The Stranger shook his head and downed another wormy shot glass. “I’d have shot him.”

Hank wasn’t so pleased. “What’re you doing, Luke? Chasing away my customers? They ain’t even paid yet!”

Luke sighed and reached into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a stack of bills and peeled off a few. He smacked them down on the bar. “I didn’t want that loudmouth around anyway. I’m here to meet someone.”

Hank picked up the money and counted it quickly. “Fine, but what if those railroad men bring back the sheriff?”

“Dale?” Luke scoffed. “He won’t do anything. No one was shot.”

“Yeah?” Hank said. “Don’t forget that bounty of yours. What if they try to collect it?”

“Dale’s not so eager to bring me in. My bounty’s not big enough to make it worth his while.” He smiled. “Yet.”

The barman gave him a wary look. “Will you promise me you’re not going to shoot this person you’re meeting? Least not in here?”

Luke leaned against the counter and lifted his shot glass, gesturing for Hank to fill it. “I paid you enough to open another bottle.”

Hank frowned, but bent down behind the bar again. When he stood he was holding an even dustier bottle of mezcal, this one full. Luke could see two worms drifting lazily in the bottom. “This is my last bottle. You’re lucky I didn’t just throw it out.”

“Order more. You know we’ll be back for it,” Luke said, gesturing with his glass again.

“We?” Hank said.

Luke pursed his lips, irritated by his slipup. The Stranger chuckled again and vanished.

Luke didn’t correct himself, but waited until Hank had opened the bottle and filled his glass before saying, “Don’t worry. I’m not here planning to shoot anybody. The person I’m meeting here is an old friend.”


Let me know what you think!

Noose Jumpers Short Film and Book Trailer Premiere!

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Howdy folks!

It’s strange how every book and comes about in a different way. For Eye of the Moonrat, it came about from childhood fantasies; literally years of dreaming up a complex world full of characters that caught my imagination. Tarah Woodblade came by way of a different process; my cousin and I brainstorming character ideas to use in a Bowl of Souls role playing game.

Noose jumpers started as a concept for an article I wrote back in 2008 on my old blog (which was basically a humor blog filled with fictitious posts. The blog still remains HERE if you are curious, though I can’t promise the writing quality you have come to expect from me.) The idea was that Noose Jumping was a predecessor to Bungie Jumping. The ultimate rush, an Old West sport where the goal was to try to get yourself hung by committing as many crimes as possible.

That germ of an idea stuck with me for several years, evolving in complexity until it was no longer a joke concept but evolved into an idea that could become the basis for a series of books and new type of magic system. The idea turned into  a point of time in the Old West where a new wave of outlaws rose from the dust and wreaked havoc, guided by mysterious powers and competing to become legends of the west. It was called the Noose Jumper Era because many of them ended their lives hanging on the loop of a noose.

When my brother, who is an independent filmmaker, spoke to me about writing something with him it came back to mind. We started talking about the possibility of putting together a pilot for a television show. We both love old westerns and the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns in particular and I brought up Noose Jumpers because I felt that it was a concept perfect for television. Together we developed it, expanding on my basic ideas. I wrote up a short film script that showcased the concept and he started putting funding together. I then started writing a script for a full pilot episode and enjoyed the ideas and characters so much that I knew I wanted to start a new series of novels based on it.

My brother put together a great group of actors and key film personnel and shot the short film back in June of 2015. Post production took months but is finally complete and the finished product is ready for your eyes and ears. Now the scene in the film you are about to watch does NOT occur in the book, so there are no spoilers. It does nicely set up the ideas that are showcased in the series, though and we hope that it could someday lead to a television or film opportunity. Please enjoy.

In addition, if you want to get an idea of how the book is going to flow, check out the preview chapter I posted a while back. The book starts with a series of bangs.



Tarah Woodblade Audiobook Now Available!

Great news! The audiobook for Tarah Woodblade is now available for your ears!


Here is the Audible Link:

It will be up on Amazon and Itunes within the next few days.

Here’s some background about the book for those who may not be familiar. This is the sixth book of The Bowl of Souls Series, but the first book of the Jharro Grove Saga. As such it is introducing new characters and a new story arc. It takes place four months after the events of “Mother of the Moonrat” and deals with the aftermath of the war. The thrust of the plot is a direct result of Lenny’s past.

Tarah Woodblade is a famous tracker and guide with unique powers who left Dremaldria at the beginning of the war. She is returning home expecting to be labeled a coward, but finds that people have developed a very different opinion. Justan and Co do not show up until the end of the book, but rejoin the series as main characters starting in book two. The main characters in the Jharro Grove Saga are Justan, Fist, and Tarah Woodblade.


Noose Jumpers Preview Chapter: The Death of Bobby Estrella

Howdy folks! It’s time for my traditional posting of a sample chapter of my upcoming novel. This book is new and different and has been a lot of fun for me to write. It is a western and a fantasy and a mythology and I hope you enjoy it.


Now, without further ado,

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The Death of Bobby Estrella


“Death ain’t always the end of a man’s story. Well, for most folks it is. I mean . . . they’re dead. You stop showing up, folks forget you after a while. But for some men, those that lived and died just right, their death is just the beginning of the story.” – Old Jim, town drunk and soothsayer.


It was twelve years before the trains came to Luna Gorda. The town was located in the southeastern corner of the New Mexico Territory, just fifteen miles from the Texas border. Luna Gorda had been built around one of the minor but well-travelled roads leading to the more populated cities to the north and west. Over its two decades of existence the town had become a frequent pit stop for merchants and travelers alike.

The locals were a hardy mix of Mexican and frontier American stock and the town showed it. The buildings were an eclectic jumble of adobe, brick, and wood plank constructions. The whole assembly looked a bit slapdash on first glance, but if the buildings had one common trait it was that they were tough and made to last.

The streets of Luna Gordo were clean and usually bustling with folks going about their business. On this day, however, trouble was coming and folks knew it. The town was quiet, the streets empty.

Three boys, Tom, Sandy, and Luke, aged ten and twelve and eleven respectively, refused to stay inside like the others. Quietly, they clambered out of the second story window behind the butcher shop and stepped onto the balcony. Once certain that no one was aware of their escape, they boosted each other up and climbed onto the roof.

The boys crept up the slightly sloping roof, careful not to make a sound. Upon reaching the front of the building, they crouched behind a high point in the decorative molding and peered into the street below. The butcher shop, owned by Sandy’s parents, was located on the main street and offered the boys a prime view of the situation below.

At the center of town, right across from each other, were two buildings seemingly at odds; the saloon and the jailhouse. Old Sheriff Paul had been one of the first settlers of Luna Gorda and had ordered the buildings situated like that on purpose. Drunken men were a lot less likely to start trouble if they exited the saloon to see the law waiting to take them in. There was a rocking chair set on the porch in front of the sheriff’s office and whenever the saloon was full either one of the deputies or Sheriff Paul himself would be stationed there, waiting with a shotgun across his lap.

There was no one stationed there today, though. Sheriff Paul had grown less brash and more wise in his old age. He and his deputies waited inside, content to deal with the aftermath of events instead of becoming part of them. It was probably a smart decision because in the street between the jailhouse and the saloon were four members of the Black Spot Gang.

The Black Spots were one of the most feared outlaw bands in the region. Made up mostly of ex-miners, they were known for smudging the right side of their faces with coal dust. They stayed mainly on the Texas side of the border, holding up stagecoaches and rustling cattle. Appearances in Luna Gorda were rare, but today was different. Bobby Estrella had crossed a line with Pablo Jones, the leader of the gang, a dangerous man with an $1,100 bounty.

They were ugly brutes; rough men with hard faces. Their legs were bowed by life on horseback and they were armed, each of them wearing well-used pistols and bandoleers of bullets slung across their chests. To the boys watching from above, it seemed as if the black smears on the men’s cheeks gave them some sort of supernatural power. They gave off a predatory aura that was so tangible it distorted the air around them.

The outlaws had turned a horse cart on its side and rolled several barrels of goods away from the front of the general store to block the street. One of them had even dragged the sheriff’s rocking chair into the middle of the road and sat in it. There they lounged on their makeshift barricade, dark hats pulled low over their eyes as they sweltered under the hot sun, waiting for Luna Gorda’s famous gunfighter to make an appearance.

“You see him?” whispered Tom. The youngest and shortest of the boys, he had found himself wedged behind the other two. He couldn’t see the street beyond the barricade from his position and he didn’t dare stand taller for fear of being seen.

“Shh!” Luke hissed. Heavily freckled, the red-haired boy had fierce green eyes and thick eyebrows that knit close together when he scowled. “I ain’t seen him yet, but he’s coming. I’m sure of it.”

Sandy turned his head away from the street to look at the two of them. “Well, he’d better come quick, ‘cause if my momma finds out we’re up here, she’s gonna kill us.”

Sandy was taller and thicker than the other two boys. Helping his father in the butcher shop had helped him build some muscle on his frame. He was also the most even-tempered and often found himself having to be the voice of reason in their little troop.

“I said shh!” Luke said looking back at his friends. “No one’s worried about your momma, Sandy. It’s those Black Spots by the saloon. They might shoot us if they hear us!”

Tom grinned at Sandy’s frown. “Yeah, Sandy. Shush! Think how mad your momma will be if you get shot.”

“My whispering was quieter than either of your shushings,” Sandy replied coolly.

Tom chuckled and raised himself up higher to get a better look at the street. His eyes widened. Tom stood and pointed, forgetting in his excitement the possible danger below. Sandy quickly pulled him back down, but Tom didn’t stop his smiling. “He’s here! Bobby Estrella is here!”

The other two boys quickly looked to see Bobby round the edge of the barn at the far end of town and turn onto the main street. He rode a white horse and was wearing a white hat and a fancy shirt with red fringe on the pockets. He wore black chaps and on each thigh was sewn his signature symbol; an offset white star.

To the boys, he shone like a hero out of legend.

Bobby “Estrella” Finn was a true son of Luna Gorda. His heritage was like the town in microcosm. His father was an Irish immigrant and his mother of Mexican blood. It showed in the way his light brown hair and Anglo looks were mixed with darkly tanned skin.

His ties with the town went deeper than that, though. Bobby was orphaned as a small child and the people of Luna Gorda raised him. He was passed from home to home and was fed and taught by the community.

Bobby had been the pride of the town in his youth. The orphan was charming, easy going, smart, and not afraid to work. The nickname “Estrella”, which was Spanish for star, had been given to him because of the way his personality shone. He latched onto that name with pleasure. As he grew to his teenage years, he began introducing himself as Bobby Estrella. If someone asked about his parents, he would tell them that his father was a ghost and that his mother was Luna Gorda.

(Observer’s Note: Though the correct Spanish pronunciation of Estrella turns the two “L”s into a “Y” sound, Bobby tended to prefer the local Americanized bastardization of the word. When he introduced himself it was Bobby Estrella with the two “L”s pronounced like in the word “fella”. This created a debate in the town that went nowhere. In the end, his name was pronounced differently depending on who you were talking to.)

The locals hadn’t believed it when they first heard he had become an outlaw. Every time the sheriff would put up his wanted poster, someone would tear it down. But as his bounty grew, so did the evidence against him. People that had housed him in his youth began finding small packages of money left at their doors and each time Bobby would travel into town, he was wearing more extravagant things.

This day, Estrella’s wanted poster advertised that his bounty in the Territory of New Mexico was $1,750. He was wanted for robbery, murder, and cattle rustling, but you wouldn’t have known it from the flamboyant manner in which he entered his home town. The cocky grin on his face didn’t lessen when the Black Spots’ barricade came into view.

Riding a short distance behind him was a much less resplendent man on a skinny mule. His cheeks were sallow and he had the rumpled look of a man who had slept in his clothes for several nights in a row. He was twitching and eyeing the waiting gang nervously. The boys watching recognized him right away as Jeb Wickee, town layabout and part-time deputy. He was also Bobby Estrella’s childhood friend and local informant.

The Black Spots stood as Bobby came into view and the air of menace surrounding them intensified. Estrella slowed down as he approached and hopped down from his horse. He then turned away from them and handed the reigns to Jeb.

“Here. Hitch ‘em up. I’ll be just a minute,” Bobby said casually.

“Estrella!” shouted the tallest of the Black Spots. His name was Gil Beverly and he had a bounty of $700. He was the one that Pablo put in charge of this mission. “I wouldn’t turn my back if I was you.”

Estrella turned back to face them and shook his head. “Just what are you desperadoes doing?”

“You know why we’re here,” said Gil.

Bobby sighed. “What I meant was, what are the four of you doing sitting in the middle of the street?”

Gil blinked at the question and when he didn’t respond right away one of the others spoke up, “We’re here to keep you from gettin’ away.”

“Yeah, but it’s blazing out here. Aren’t you hot?” Estrella asked, his face etched with concern. He took off his hat and fanned his face as he walked slowly towards them. “You could have waited in the shade in front of the saloon. I wouldn’t have minded.”

“That’s enough! We know how you are, Bobby, and we ain’t putting up with your jackassery,” Gill snapped and the hands of the Black Spots twitched near their revolvers. “Pablo wants the gold you run off with. Now hand it over.”

Estrella stopped. “Jackassery?” He let out a charming laugh. “Come on, Gil, I was genuinely worried about your comfort.”

Gill growled. The street was tight with tension. The boys watching from above were riveted, their mouths gaping open in anticipation of the gunfight that would surely ensue, but Luke found his attention drawn to a strange anomaly. A man had appeared on the porch in front of the storefront next to Estrella. Luke could have sworn he hadn’t been there before.

This new stranger was leaning back against the wall in the shade, placing a lit cigar in his mouth. He was wearing a wide hat and a long black duster and as he lifted his head, Luke saw beneath the brim of his hat. The man’s face was pale and he wore a patch over his right eye. As for his other eye, it was probably just a reflection from the burning ember on the end of the cigar, but to Luke it had a supernatural gleam. There was something oddly familiar about that gleam.

“Hand over the gold or we’ll fill you with holes,” Gil promised.

Estrella didn’t respond right away. He had noticed the stranger too. Bobby turned his head to look at the man and the cocky grin slid off of his face.

“He ain’t smiling now,” mocked one of the Black Spots.

Bobby paid him no mind. The stranger let out a puff of smoke and mouthed something that Luke could not hear. Bobby cocked his head questioningly and the stranger gave him a slow nod.

When Estrella turned his attention back to the Black Spots, his smile had returned. “About that gold. I’m afraid I gave most of it away. As for the rest . . .” He spread his arms wide. “I’m wearing it.”

“Then you’re a dead man,” Gil promised.

“I doubt you brought enough men for that,” Bobby replied, dropping his arms and hovering his hand over the pearl handle of his shiny revolver.

Gil drew his gun and the rest of the Black Spots followed.

Estrella was faster. By the time Gil had raised his weapon to firing position, Bobby’s first shot had struck him in the heart. Bobby held down the trigger and fanned the hammer three more times.

Two of the other men dropped, but the fourth man was just winged. He was able to squeeze off a shot, but it went wide. Bobby shot twice more and the man fell over dead.

Bobby shook his head as he placed his gun back in its holster. “I told Pablo that if he was going to come for me he’d have to-.”

Another shot rang out.

Estrella jerked and stared down at his right leg. Blood blossomed from his thigh and ran down over his chaps, streaking the white star red. He slowly turned around.

The boys gasped. Luke’s eyes immediately searched for the stranger, but the man had disappeared from the shadows. Instead, standing in the street with a dirty pistol in his hand, was Estrella’s informant.

Bobby’s jaw dropped in shock. “Jeb?”

“Don’t bother trying to shoot me, Estrella,” Jeb replied with a sneer on his face. “You fired six shots. No bullets left.”

“But why?” Bobby asked. “Did Pablo get to you?”

The man didn’t answer, but kept his gun trained on Estrella as he walked onto the porch of the sheriff’s office. He kicked the door hard twice. “Sheriff Paul, get out here! I got a bounty to collect.”

Jeb Wickee, a man who’d never had more than fifty dollars to his name, had just become $1,750 richer.

“No way,” said Luke. Sandy and Tom couldn’t help but share his disbelief at their hero’s misfortune. The three boys watched sadly as the sheriff and his deputies apprehended Bobby and took him inside the jailhouse.

“I can’t believe that Jeb, turning Bobby in,” said Sandy with a glower. “You watch, Estrella ain’t going down this easy.”

“Yeah!” Tom agreed. “No way Sheriff Paul can keep Bobby behind bars. He’ll escape. Then Jeb will be the one that’s sorry.”

Luke wasn’t so confident. Something about the way Bobby’s shoulders had drooped as the sheriff had dragged him away gave the whole thing a feeling of permanence.

The street was soon swarming with people exclaiming over the scene. The boys climbed down from the rooftop and snuck back into Sandy’s room. They arrived just in time, because Sandy’s mother rushed in moments later and shooed his friends home.

The rest of their day flew by. Their minds were abuzz with what they had seen and they barely noticed the tedium of chores or the taste of their evening meals. They all had difficulty sleeping that night. As for Luke, his dreams were haunted by the pale-faced stranger and the glow of the cigar ember reflected in his one good eye.

The news of Bobby Estrella’s capture spread quickly through the town. The majority of them, still enamored with the charismatic boy that had grown up among them, wished for clemency. After all, he had never done any of them harm and the men he killed had all been outlaws anyway. Some of them even spoke with the sheriff, trying to get him to let Bobby go. But Sheriff Paul, though a man with many faults, was a true man of the law. He refused to do anything with the prisoner until he had heard from the judge.

Unfortunately for Estrella, Judge Wilson was not one of the town majority. He was relatively new to Luna Gorda and hadn’t known Bobby as a child. The list of Estrella’s alleged crimes was extensive and as a rancher himself, the judge found the crime of cattle rustling particularly damning. He didn’t take long to deliberate over his ruling.

Bobby Estrella was to be hung.

The week leading up to the hanging was a busy one in Luna Gorda. The town’s citizens were in an uproar over the ruling. Sandy’s mother herself brought a petition around, gathering signatures urging for a pardon. She handed it to Judge Wilson, but the man wasn’t to be swayed, not even with eighty percent of the people against him. As he reminded her, the rulings of the Judicial Branch of the American Government weren’t up for vote.

The townsfolk visited Bobby in droves. He was gracious to all of them and they kept him well fed but, despite his sparkling attitude, there was no reprieve. The gallows was built at the edge of town.

The day of the hanging was a grim one. The sky was filled with dark foreboding clouds and most of the locals, those that loved Bobby best, stayed home. Nevertheless, the area around the gallows was flooded with interested visitors. Some came with morbid curiosity. Others had more personal reasons for attending. There were a great many Black Spots in the crowd.

Luke, Tom, and Sandy were told to go nowhere near the terrible event. Of course, they ignored their parents’ edicts and snuck to the edge of town. Careful to avoid being seen by anyone they knew, the boys found a proper vantage point where they would miss nothing.

They watched as Bobby Estrella was marched up to the gallows. He gave the crowd a charming smile as he was led up onto the platform and his crimes were read aloud. Then the preacher took the stage. And since he rarely had the opportunity to preach to such an eager crowd, he made the most of it. The preacher gave a rousing sermon, prancing about and waving his Bible as he first damned Estrella’s actions, then cried to the Lord for mercy on his ever living soul.

Estrella rolled his eyes at first, but as the sermon went on, his humor left him. His face went grim and he began to stare off into the distance. Some people in the crowd craned their necks to see what he was looking at so intently, but they seemed to find nothing of note and returned their attention to the preacher.

Luke saw something different. Standing away from the crowd, next to a ragged oak tree, was the pale-faced stranger that he had seen talking to Bobby. He wore the same black hat and duster he had on the day of the gunfight and he was looking right back at Estrella.

The dark clouds above churned and their gazes remained locked, the stranger silently smoking his cigar until the preacher ran out of steam. Finally, a bag was pulled over Bobby’s head, cutting off their connection. As the noose was placed around Estrella’s neck, the stranger spat in derision and turned away.

Up to that point, Tom and Sandy had been certain that a reprieve was coming. There was no way this was the end. Somehow Estrella was going to pull some sort of trick and get away. The grim certainty of the moment hit them as the lever was pulled. The door under Bobby’s feet gave way and they gasped, closing their eyes, unwilling to see their hero die.

Luke, however, was unable to look away. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his expression was feverish as Estrella fell and jerked to a stop. Later, the scene would replay in his mind and he would throw up, but at the moment it happened, his thoughts were detached and emotionless. Was this real? Was any of it? He turned his eyes from the dead man’s twitching boots and saw that the stranger was gone.

Lightning crackled and the clouds chose that moment to release their bounty. Rain fell in a torrent and the crowd dispersed, their entertainment over. The three friends, as unafraid of getting wet as young boys are, walked sadly forward and stood before the gallows.

“I can’t believe it really happened,” said Tom.

Sandy grimaced, looking sick to his stomach. “They ain’t even gonna cut him down?”

“Maybe they will later. When it stops raining,” Tom replied. A look of determination crossed his face. “When I’m as big as Bobby, they ain’t catching me.”

“Me neither,” said Luke.

Sandy scoffed. “You two? As famous as him?”

“And why not?” Tom asked.

“You’re kids,” Sandy said dismissively.

“Everybody starts out that way,” Tom said. “What? Don’t you wanna be famous when you’re older?”

“Of course I do!” A smile crossed Sandy’s lips. “I just don’t think you can do it.”

While the other two continued arguing, Luke watched the body slowly rotating. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the hole in Estrella’s black chaps and the offset star that had been stained red with Bobby’s blood.

As he stared, the sounds of his friends talking and the falling rain faded. Luke’s eyes widened as, suddenly, the stranger was standing next to him.

For a moment it seemed as though the man was completely dry, but rain soon poured off of his black wide-brimmed hat. Luke looked up at the stranger’s face and was paralyzed with fear. Up close, the man’s face was terrible to behold. Scars crisscrossed his features, including a long one that started above his eyepatch and ended at his upper lip.

Luke realized he had been wrong. The gleam in the man eye wasn’t a reflection of the cigar’s ember. His iris gave off an internal glow of its own. He had a sudden memory of seeing that glow before, only it was two eyes instead of one.

The stranger with the demonic eye smiled and leaned in close to Luke’s ear. He spoke with a deep throaty voice, “You could be better than Estrella. You could be legends.”

There was a rumble of thunder and the man was gone. Luke’s fear vanished along with him, replaced by a strange eagerness. He swung around looking for the man, then turned to ask his friends if they had seen him, but they were still arguing.

“Like you’d shoot a man,” Sandy was saying.

“You’re the one of us that’s scared of the thought of shooting folks, Sandy,” Tom replied. “You ain’t brave like me and Luke.”

Sandy snorted. “I’m a way better shot than you.”

“Yeah, shootin’ tin cans,” Tom said.

“And prairie dogs. And rabbits,” Sandy reminded him. “Remember that rattler?”

Tom shrugged. “So you’re good at that. Whatever. We’re all good at different stuff.” He nodded, an idea forming in his mind. “Hey, I know. We should form our own gang in Estrella’s memory. We can call it, ‘Tom’s boys.’”

“We are not choosing that name,” Sandy said. He rubbed his chin. “Still, I like the idea. Three boys from Luna Gorda taking on every crooked gun in the west.”

“We could be huge,” Tom agreed.

Luke licked his lips and a feverish grin spread across his face as he echoed the stranger’s words. “We could be legends.”



Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Trevor H. Cooley

Bowl of Souls promotion and Early January update

Howdy, Folks!

I’m trying a crazy Kindle promotion right now. From January 8-11, both Book One: Eye of the Moonrat and Book Six: Tarah Woodblade are free and Messenger of the Dark Prophet is only .99!

I’m hoping to drum up some new interest and at the same time get the attention of some of those readers that for whatever reason stopped at the end of the Moonrat Saga and haven’t started the Jharro Grove Saga yet. This is an excellent opportunity also for any of you that have friends you have told the series about that are still sitting on the fence. Please share this info and let them know now. It’s a great deal!

In other news, the Tarah Woodblade audiobook narration is underway. It seems to be on track to an end of month release if all works out the way we are hoping with Audible and Itunes.

Also, the first book in my new Fantasy Western series: Noose Jumpers is getting closer to completion. Keep an eye out for a preview chapter to be posted on this site in the next few days. The cover looks great and it is looking like the short film inspired by the book is nearing completion as well. There will be more information regarding that development in the future.

Noose Jumpers ebook cover 5 gig

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments or use the contact form linked at the top of the site. Thank you!


Noose Jumpers Cover Reveal!!

Howdy folks and Merry Christmas!

It’s time to reveal the cover for my upcoming book!

Noose Jumpers ebook cover 5 gig

Here it is and a beautiful job done by my brother, Justin Cooley. He also designed the covers for Hilt’s Pride and Hunt of the Bandham. Every aspect of the cover is symbolic to characters and events in the book.

Noose Jumpers is due out Mid January.

The book is a mix of Fantasy and Western genres and the story is about the myths and magic of the old west that are long gone to history, as told from the perspectives of three young outlaws determined to become legends. I can’t wait to share it with you.
I answered some questions about this new book in my earlier blog post here.…/
Please feel free to ask me more in the comments!


Mother of the Moonrat Audiobook Now Available!

Hey folks!

Unexpected news! The Mother of the Moonrat audiobook is available on Audible a week earlier than I expected.


Get your copy now!

For more news on future audiobook releases and my upcoming novel see the post I did a couple days ago.


December Update! Noose Jumpers! Audiobook News! and Eye of the Moonrat Fan Video.

Howdy, Folks!

A Happy Xmas and a Merry Holidays to you all! There’s lots of fun stuff going on here at the Cooley Ranch. Here are a list of things I want to talk about:

-Noose Jumpers info

-Mother of the Moonrat Audiobook (Edit: available now!

-New Eye of the Moonrat art video


Part One: Noose Jumpers

First and foremost, I want you all to know that I am currently busy writing, Noose Jumpers, and hoping for a release late December. Now I have received several questions about this book, so I thought I would do a short Q and A for you.

Q: Odd title. Is this the next Bowl of Souls book?

A: No. Noose Jumpers is the first book in a new unrelated series. It is a Fantasy Western and will have an all new world and characters.

Q: What do you mean by the term Fantasy Western? Is there supernatural beings? A magic system? A quest to destroy the one ten-gallon-hat?

A: This question is a bit complicated and I have wondered how much to explain since I don’t want to give away the plot. I know that Fantasy Western’s are a rare breed. In this case, the story could almost be called an “alternate history”. It is based in the later 1800’s and takes place in the “Wild West” period. There are no elves or dwarves or fantastical creatures in the traditional fantasy sense. The thing that makes this a fantasy is that there are supernatural beings involved. There is also a magic system of sorts and it fits in with the American Folklore tradition. I won’t explain it further, because this is information that unfolds as the story progresses. But no, there is no quest where a party of cowpokes takes the one ten-gallon-hat to Pike’s Peak so that it can be destroyed, though that would be a pretty cool LOTR parody if anyone wants to take that idea and roll with it.

I will reveal this much about the story. It has to deal with three young men who are part of a time in the “Wild West”  called the Noose Jumper Era. This is a period of time where a large number of up and coming outlaws caused havoc in an apparent attempt to become famous. Since so many of these men and women ended up at the gallows, the term Noose Jumpers was coined to describe them.

Q: What is this about a short film you keep mentioning?

A: If you have been watching my Facebook Page you may have noticed several posts regarding this.  The idea for Noose Jumpers was loosely based on an old satirical article I wrote on my old abandoned joke blog. (See the link if you’re curious. I won’t vouch for the quality of my old work, BTW)

Then early in 2014, my brother Jared approached me interested in the idea for a TV show pitch. So we discussed possible plot evolutions. I put together a pilot episode script and wrote a short film script that we could use as an example for the feel of the show. It was during this period of time that I became excited about the idea of writing a book series based on this world and characters. Jared filmed the short film in June and has been working on post production ever since. When it is completed, I plan to use it as a book trailer as well as to pitch the series.

Q: So when can we see it?

A: Well, it is nearly complete. The only thing remaining is sound touch ups and foley work. Jared has an exciting individual lined up to do the work, but the amount he needs to finish it takes the project way over its budget. Jared is currently trying to raise money to finish it, so please help if you can. He is currently $2,300 short of funds and any little bit you could spare helps immensely. Below is a video he made explaining it, followed by a teaser trailer.


Q: But what the hell? Why are you fooling around with this when you could be writing the next Bowl of Souls novel?

A: I understand the frustration. I am eager to continue that story as well. But sometimes a writer needs to switch things up just to keep fresh and motivated. I have been writing nothing but Bowl of Souls novels for a very long time and this is a fun break. Besides, I need more stories out there to bring in some new blood. When someone stumbles upon the Bowl of Souls series, they have to ask themselves if they really want to start a series that is ten books and counting. That is a large investment of time and energy for a reader. I’m hoping that this new series will bring in folks that have been passing on that large undertaking thus far. Don’t worry. I hope to write two more Bowl of Souls novels in 2016.

Q: Will there be a Noose Jumpers audiobook version and, if so, when will it be available?

A: It will definitely be made into an audiobook. As far as a timeline, that depends on when the book is completed and where Andrew is on the narration of Tarah Woodblade and what his schedule is like. I will let you know more as the time approaches.


Part Two: Bowl of Souls Audiobook News

Andrew Tell has finished narration on the fifth Moonrat Saga book: Mother of the Moonrat. It has been submitted to Audible and Itunes and should be available some time in the next two weeks or so. NOW! I will let you know on this site as soon as it is available. He will start work on the next book, Tarah Woodblade, soon with a hopeful availability date of Mid January.


Part Three: Cool Eye of the Moonrat Video

You may remember a post I did a while back regarding some Tarah Woodblade fan art and a video done by the lovely and talented Monique Renee. Well she has recently gotten around to reading Eye of the Moonrat and has done a new piece of art featuring Justan and Jhonate. Those of you that have listened to the audiobooks know that she has developed her own pronunciations of the character names, but she did a fantastic job and I truly enjoyed her commentary during the video. Please check it out Here:


Well, that about does it for now. If you have further questions, post them in the comments below. I will answer them directly in the comments and will perhaps update this post with your questions and answers.

Thank you all for your continued support,


Early November Update. Bowl of Souls and Noose Jumpers News.

Hey, folks! I want to thank all of you for the support with the Bowl of Souls series. It means a lot to me that so many of you write reviews on Amazon and tell your friends.

Recently there has been a bit of confusion that I want to clear up. Some people have gotten the impression that The Troll King was the last book in the series. Let me assure you that is not the case. I promise I would never leave my readers with such a cliffhanger.

There will be two more books in the Jharro Grove Saga and after that I have ideas for at least two more sagas. The Bowl of Souls series has been a part of me since I was a teenager and I have a feeling that as long as I’m alive and writing there will never truly be a last Bowl of Souls novel.

That being said, the next book I’m writing is not part of the Bowl of Souls world. “Noose Jumpers” is a fantasy western series that I am starting with the first book coming out late December. The characters and the world of Noose Jumpers is something I am really excited to share with all of you. I don’t want to give away too much of the story just yet, but keep an eye out for teasers leading up to the release date. If you like the Bowl of Souls books or westerns or fantasy in general I think you will really like it.

The next book after the first Noose Jumpers novel will be the fifth book of the Jharro Grove Saga and the tenth Bowl of Souls book overall. I plan to release it some time in the Spring.

In addition, Andrew Tell and I are working to get the audiobooks caught up. He is promising me rapid fire releases of the rest of the Bowl of Souls books, starting with Mother of the Moonrat at the beginning of December.

I hope this has cleared things up. Please keep an eye out here and on my Facebook page for future updates. Great things are coming!

Trevor H. Cooley