Reading for a good cause!

I’ve posted on this before; but since it’s for a good cause, I’m going to post on it again, and also give you an excerpt.

The Gruff Variations: Writing for Charity Anthology, Vol. 1

An anthology to benefit the Children’s Literature Association of Utah and the Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia.

The stories and poetry in this anthology were all inspired by the legend of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. But you won’t just find goats and trolls in here. You’ll also find xenoarchaeologists hunting a legendary burial ground, a harried troll who wants nothing more than peace and quiet, star-traveling cities in search of resources, a cloaked warrior of prophecy, an honest politician, princesses on vacation, interstellar probes, superheroes (and villains), cursed princes, necromancers, fairies, bikers, aliens, violinists… the list goes on.

Contributors to this anthology include New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale, award-winning children’s picture book author Rick Walton, Hugo Award winner (and Nebula Award nominee) Mary Robinette Kowal, Edgar Award finalist Dene Low, Nebula Award nominees Brad R. Torgersen and Nancy Fulda, and many other authors such as Kristen Landon, Lisa Mangum, Kristyn Crow, Clint Johnson, and Dean Hale. Nebula Award Winner Eric James Stone edited the anthology.

P.S. Hugo and Nebula and Campbell Award nominee Brad R. Torgersen weighs in here.

Contains my story “Gruff Riders”. When T-Roll picks on Kidd, he finds himself tangling with the smartest young goat in the city; and Kidd isn’t about to let some troll take his bicycle! With help from his skateboarding brother Billy and their motorcycle-riding big brother Gruff, they teach T-Roll a lesson… and maybe learn one for themselves as well!

And here is an excerpt:


Gruff Riders

By Martin L. Shoemaker

“Gimme your bike, kid.” The troll blocked the bike path, squatting on a motorcycle. Large, green, ugly and smelly. No, not the motorcycle, the troll. The motorcycle was sweet: a custom Indian, black with gold trim and a modified suspension to support the troll’s weight. On the gas tank in gold script was painted T-Roll. Like the troll, the T had large fangs.

“That’s me: Kidd, with two D’s.” The little goat jutted his chin out. He had no whiskers on his chin yet, nor horns on his head, but he wasn’t taking any guff from the troll. Kidd had two big brothers, so he had learned to stand up for himself. “Why should I give you my bike? You’re too big for it.”

T-Roll blinked twice and shook his head, as if he couldn’t understand anyone telling him “No.” Finally he answered, “Because I’m bigger than you, and I can beat you up and kick you into the river, and I said so.”

Kidd looked down at his sneakers and kicked at a rock, hiding his smile. He might be smaller than T-Roll, but he was sure he was smarter. “So? Yeah, you’re bigger. You’ll break the bike! And besides, you have a motorcycle. You can’t ride both of them. If you take my bike, are you going to give me your motorcycle?”

“No!” T-Roll roared, leaning over. Spittle dripped from his fangs, staining Kidd’s gray T-shirt. Some of the other animals in the park looked over at the shouting, but no one seemed eager to get involved with an angry troll.

“So, what, you’re going to tow my bike behind you?”

“No…” This time T-Roll didn’t roar.

“Are you going to carry my bike on your motorcycle?”

“Uhhh…” Kidd imagined rocks grinding in the troll’s head as he tried to think of a solution. “I’m really strong. I can carry a bike.”

“But can you steer at the same time without losing your balance and crashing? I would hate to crash such a nice motorcycle, wouldn’t you?”


Again Kidd hid his smile. He had an idea. “So you don’t want a bike, you want something smaller that you can carry!”

T-Roll squinted at Kidd, trying to understand. “Okay… Yeah, I can carry something smaller.”

“So you want…” Kidd paused as if he was thinking, but he had already figured out the first part of his plan, and maybe more. “…a skateboard!”

“Yeah! A skateboard! I could carry that!” T-Roll’s eyes lit up. “Do you have one?”

“No.” T-Roll’s glare returned. “But my brother does…”

T-Roll opened one eye wider. “Is he here?”

“No, but I can call him.” Kidd suppressed a giggle. “But I won’t.”

“Why not?”

Kidd rubbed his chin and looked T-Roll in the eye. “You said you were gonna beat me up and kick me into the river! Why should I help someone who’s gonna beat me up?”

T-Roll looked pained and confused. Finally he nodded slowly. “Okay, if you call him, I won’t beat you up and take your bike.”

“Or kick me into the river?”

“Or kick you into the river.”

“Are you sure?”

“Troll’s honor.”

“Trolls have honor?” T-Roll frowned, and Kidd decided he was going too far. It wouldn’t do for the troll to realize Kidd was playing him. “All right, all right, I’ll call him.”

Kidd pulled his cell phone from the thigh pocket of his jeans, and he dialed Billy’s number. “Hey, Billy? Yeah, it’s Kidd. I’m in the park over by the Goose Bridge. Uh-huh, yeah, Rita said ‘Hi.’ Say, I need a favor, and it’s kind of important. Could you come meet me and this guy I’ve met? Uh-huh, yeah. Thanks! And please, bring your skateboard.”

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