Kevin A. Lyons

Biography

I was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. When I graduated from college, with a degree in Geology, I left – for a while. I worked on oil wells from California to the North Slope of Alaska, from the Gulf of Mexico to the first test well that was drilled in Georges Bank, off the coast of Massachusetts. Then I came back to New Jersey and spent a few years working at the Division of Fish, Game and Shellfisheries.

I left again for Connecticut to work for the phone company, just in time for Ma Bell to break up. I came back to New Jersey with AT&T and eventually found my way to Bell Labs.

I left Bell Labs to be a stay-at-home dad. As my kids grew older I was able to spend some time volunteering at a nearby riding center for people with special needs -- that's one of my coworkers in the photo with me.

Now that my kids are away at college I’m making the transition to “merely unemployed.” Or maybe I'll become a writer. We’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by!

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in suburban New Jersey, not far from New York City. But in the 50s and 60s my little suburban town still had a few farms and horses. I loved going into the woods to hunt for turtles or catching fish in a stream with a spool of thread and a bent pin. That town is completely different, today.

As to how it influenced my writing -- that's more difficult. The most obvious influence would be the locations I build for my stories.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My favorite ereader is the JetBook Lite. I love it for the same reasons that most people hated it, I suppose. The one facet that I like most is that it uses ordinary AA batteries. We had extended power outages (longer than a week) in 2011, following the Halloween blizzard, and in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy. I keep plenty of fully charged batteries on hand, but I like knowing that I can buy a set of batteries for it any time I need them.

Also, the "battery bulge" on the back makes a convenient finger hold while I'm reading and I can do page advances with my thumb. No "touch screen" means no smudges to read through -- something that really annoys me on my Android tablets!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Kevin A. Lyons online


Books

Remembering Emmy
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,960. Language: English. Published: June 14, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
Emmy was a happy four year old girl. But she was lonely, sometimes, growing up on an isolated farm. Most days there was no else around, except for mom and dad. And, sometimes, a hiker on the trail across the field. Fortunately, she had Jack, her dog, a huge black and tan Rottweiler. He was the best friend a little girl could ever have. Jack would never let anything happen to Emmy. Never.
The First Galactic Princess – A Bedtime Story
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,100. Language: English. Published: November 30, 2012. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Friendship
(3.00 from 1 review)
The first galactic princess is a little girl growing up in a wonderful place. She faces an ordinary problem with the help of a friend and the support of an understanding father. There are no spaceships, ancient prophecies or threatening aliens. There is, however, a hover car -- kids need to dream about hover cars!
Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,370. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Under the full moon a motorcycle races west along the Interstate. The police can't catch it, and it disappears before it reaches the toll bridge. Narrated by the guy who drives the road-killed deer pick-up truck for Fish and Game. Originally published in 1979, in Easyriders magazine, and reprinted in The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series VIII, in 1980.
The Star Creature
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,010. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00 from 8 reviews)
Today this would be called Flash Fiction. In 1979 it was a "short-short" story. It was first published in the Winter, 1979, issue of Unearth Magazine (Volume 2, Number 4). This is a story of the first encounter between two intelligent species. I've tried to present an unusual viewpoint and challenge some preconceptions. Mostly, I hope you enjoy it.

Kevin A. Lyons’s tag cloud

alien encounter    bedtime story    biker ghost    children    creature    deer pickup    dog    empathy    farm    first contact    friendship    galaxy    garden    ghost    haunted highway    new jersey    princess    roadkill   

Kevin A. Lyons's favorite authors on Smashwords


Smashwords book reviews by Kevin A. Lyons

  • Smashwords Style Guide for Idjits on June 21, 2012

    Got the official style guide, read it through, tried to understand it, re-read my story, ... and mulled it over for a couple of weeks. Then I bought Rebecca Melvin's Guide for Idjits, spent a little time zipping through my story, and it was up and through the Meatgrinder in two days. Went to "Premium" on the first try, less than two weeks later. I'll be keeping this reference handy for my next story!
  • G-Men on July 11, 2012

    This is a very good story that works on every level. The historic personalities stay in character in this "alternate history" story, the "historic" setting is accurate, and the conclusion is logical and believable. It's easy to see why this story has been included in both mystery and science fiction anthologies.
  • Who Censored Roger Rabbit? on July 11, 2012

    I'll admit it -- I still have the hardcover of Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Money was tight for me back then and remember thinking long and hard before buying it. I never regretted it. In fact, I was disappointed by the movie. The book is much more "noir" than the movie, but still basically good fun. Very highly recommended.
  • Murder On The Mind on July 16, 2012

    I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I don't normally enjoy "mysteries" that involve someone with psychic abilities -- unrestricted psychic talent would mean the book should be over in a couple of pages, so the author usually has to construct elaborate "rules" and "limitations" for the psychic power. Too often they feel artificial and rigid. This book is much better than that. The hero, a bit of a loser to begin with, acquires his psychic talent in a way that makes its power -- AND limitations -- very believable. It helps (a lot) that the story is well constructed and beautifully written. The streets, neighborhoods, and characters all seem believable and this writer uses words well. There are some minor formatting problems with the version I read (epub, I don't know if they're universal) but they weren't serious enough to frustrate me.
  • Dead In Red on July 22, 2012

    I bought this book largely on the strength of Murder on the Mind, the first book in the series. This is the second book in the series. I liked this book as well, but you really do have to read the first book first. This book's plot is a bit more complex than the first book's -- and, of course, doesn't have to spend nearly as much time introducing the characters or providing background details. Also, Jeff, the main character, seems a lot more sure of himself and familiar with how his unique talent works. My only complaint comes at the end, when Jeff finally knows with certainly who the murderer is -- it seemed to me that he was suddenly certain, but I missed the specific detail that clinched it for him. But, I suppose I might be to blame for that.
  • Millennium Babies on July 23, 2012

    I can say this is a very good story without worrying too much about defending my opinion -- it won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2001. The story is set in the very near future and has the appropriate home and office automation trappings, but the science behind this story's "science fiction" is sociology. The ending was consistent with the characters and situation, but still not quite what I was expecting.
  • The Murders in the Reed Moore Library on July 31, 2012

    Okay, the murders take place in the "Reed Moore" library, the librarian's name is "Penny Copper," and a cat assists in solving the murders. If you're still expecting a complicated police procedural ... "move along, there's nothing to see here." On the other hand, this is a cute, fun, entertaining story. The characters are engaging and the story moves right along. On the downside -- even for a small town, the police seem to be remarkably careless. The library's book drop plays a big part in the story, and the only real problem that I have is that the book drop is not adequately described. I'm a big library-goer, and I've seen a variety of book drops -- some would serve this story's purposes, but others wouldn't. Trying to picture this book drop as the plot unfolded took me "out of the story" a few times. Not enough to turn me off, though.
  • Stars: The Anthology on Aug. 05, 2012

    First off, I'm a bit of a purist, but some of these stories are heavily weighted towards Fantasy, not Science Fiction. Not a problem for me -- I like well-written Fantasy -- but don't be surprised by Fantasy story lines in amongst the aliens. Also, the table of contents doesn't work on either my reader (a Jetbook Lite) or Calibre (on my computer) -- it just shows the beginning, mid-point, and end of the book. This is an inconvenience in such a large anthology of short stories. On the other hand, the stories are very good, very original, and pretty affordable in a collection of this size. The basic premise is that each story is inspired by one of Janis Ian's songs. All of the stories identify the song that inspired it, and most of the stories take that inspiration as a jumping-off point, turning into something completely new.
  • Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble on Aug. 26, 2012

    This is my first "urban fantasy/paranormal romance." It was interesting -- I'll probably be reading more. The first third of this book had a "cozy mystery" feel to it. Jolie and Rand had a very "Stephanie Plum/Ranger" vibe going on. The second third was more weighted toward romance, and the final third was more "damsel in distress." The characters were three-dimensional and the story was very well told. Most importantly, the author can write -- I didn't find myself stumbling over awkward phrases or grammar mistakes. At times, however, it seemed like the characters made illogical decisions that really only seemed to further the plot. Especially at the end of the book, which seemed a bit abrupt. Anyway, highly recommended.
  • Home On LaGrange on Dec. 02, 2012

    The tags for this story are all VERY SERIOUS, and it is a serious subject, but I hope that doesn't deter anyone from reading. The story is very original. It also flows nicely and has a wonderful touch of dark humor. Recommended.
  • Going Somewhere Else on Dec. 08, 2012

    The author describes this as being "Part of the "Break Bites" Series: Stories short enough to read when you get a break from your everyday activities." And that's accurate -- it's a very nice* vignette, a short but complete character sketch. The story is dependant on space flight and cybernetics, but it's *about* the relationship between a brilliant daughter and a mother who appears to have never been able to live up to her hopes and abilities. * When I say "nice" I don't mean to damn with faint praise -- it's a very good read.
  • Worlds Enough...And Time on Dec. 16, 2012

    This single volume includes both "Worlds Enough ... and Time" and "Watching the Music Dance." I didn't make the connection right away, but these same two stories are available with "Watching the Music Dance" as the lead story. In reading the descriptions of the stories before making my purchase I didn't catch that. I passed up "Watching ..." since the description didn't appeal to me as much. I like the idea of getting a story free story, but I'd be concerned that someone might inadvertently buy both packages and wind up with duplicates. Also, a person interested in "Watching ..." might not look here for a review. Anyway, back to the review. I really liked "Worlds Enough ... and Time." It has a very Ray Bradbury-esque feel to it -- he even gets name-checked. The characters are all believable, especially the aging "counter-cultural" grandmother, and they all behave in logical ways. The writing is smooth and carries the story right along. Even the setting comes across realistically, and drives the events of the story. The four stars go to this story. Just as I thought, I did not like "Watching the Music Dance" quite as much. This is not due to any problem with the story itself -- it's just that I'm a former stay-at-home dad, and I currently volunteer with an organization that works with the handicapped, so I'm especially sensitive to the subject of child abuse -- even very abstract, science fictional, child abuse. The story itself is very well written, and if you're interested in it you shouldn't let me slow you down
  • Ownership is Fatal on Feb. 06, 2013

    A very nice, very short story! There's some good imagery here, nice description, and good attention to detail. My only (mild) complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. I'd like to hear the narrator express what the ending *means* to her. But this story is a very promising beginning. I look forward to more.
  • Deadly Gamble: The First Charlie Parker Mystery on March 23, 2013

    A good, well written, light mystery. It's a fun and easy read -- and there are times when that's just what I need! Charlie -- short for Charlotte -- is a partner in a private investigator business with her brother. He's the P.I. and she's the accountant -- at least, that's the way it's supposed to be. But while her brother's away she gets caught up in a simple job that quickly becomes more complicated and sinister. I'd like to know more about Charlie. For instance, I don't think her business, essentially a one-man P.I. business, really needs a full time accountant. Does she do any forensic accounting? But I guess (hope?) that's what the rest of the series is for. Recommended for fans of light or "cozy" mysteries.
  • Still Life Without You on March 27, 2013

    I've read this story a couple of times, and I like it. It consists of a sequence of mysteries, each building on the previous one, and all related to an underlying family tragedy.
  • The Flint Lord on April 26, 2013

    This is the second volume in "The Pagans" trilogy, after The Stone Arrow. If possible, I'd recommend reading The Stone Arrow first -- the stories stand alone, but the first novel serves as a good introduction to the British neolithic civilization and the settlements in the area. I'm not an authority on the subject, but the story rang true for me. It is a novel of casual violence, but the author doesn't dwell on the details. There are no real "heroes" in this story. The first novel in the series, The Stone Arrow, is very much Tagart's story. Tagart is present in The Flint Lord, but his character seemed more superficial to me, and less complex. I liked The Stone Arrow a little better, but I still recommend this book. (I got The Stone Arrow at Barnes & Noble, so I can't review it here.)
  • 9 Tales of Henghis Hapthorn on Aug. 19, 2013

    These stories are set in the very distant future. Earth has colonized thousands of worlds, but most of these stories are set on "Old Earth." The protagonist, Henghis Hapthorn, is described as a "freelance discriminator" -- basically, a private investigator. He will not knowingly provide services that could result in criminal activity, but he's a bit flexible on that detail. He's on reasonably good terms with the police -- called the Bureau of Scrutiny -- but not exactly friendly terms. Hapthorn is assisted by his integrator -- an artificial intelligence that combines the functions of personal computer, cell phone, digital assistant, etc. Integrators are made to order and nearly all citizens have one, assembled to order with customized blends of intelligence, curiosity, etc. By definition, they don't change or evolve -- but the stories suggest that they can. Hapthorn also has a "colleague" who inhabits a universe of different dimensions, that he calls a "demon." Finally, Hapthorn is living in the "penultimate age" of humanity. The universe is poised to shift from a rational universe of logic and science to a universe based on the principles of magic. The writing is reminiscent of Jack Vance in both style and setting, but it seems very natural -- not forced. Basically, I really enjoyed these stories.
  • The Birth of M. E. Meegs on Oct. 28, 2013

    A quick read and a nice story. It serves as a good introduction for the characters in a series, although I haven't read the other stories, yet. My only complaint is that much of the mystery unfolds in letters from a police officer in England to the protagonist in New York -- as a result the mystery is "told" to us, rather than "shown" as it resolves. Still, the characters are well drawn, the setting is interesting, and the mystery was clever.
  • Fox Magic on Oct. 28, 2013

    A very straight forward, brief story. The resolution is believable, but occurs without any missteps, distractions, or detours -- I suppose that's necessary for so short a story. I've read most of the Akitada novels and I enjoyed this story, but I'd recommend it for "completists" -- if you're new to the series, I don't think this story will give you an appreciation for the longer works. For that, I'd recommend that you go ahead and start with one of the novels.
  • Lesson One - a short story on Dec. 07, 2013

    This is a well written story with an imaginative and original premise. I don't think I've read anything quite like it before. It really seemed to me that it should have been included in a Fantasy genre -- I would have found it sooner. Recommended.
  • Death by Chocolate on Dec. 15, 2013

    This is a wonderful "cozy" mystery. The setting is a library in a mid-sized city. I worked in a library, long ago, and the various departments (and personalities) all seemed very familiar to me. There were several believable misdirections in solving the murder. The conclusion, when I got there, was very believable. I enjoyed going along for the ride. I'd welcome another story in this setting and with these characters.
  • Mailbox Mayhem on Dec. 18, 2013

    These are two good, lite mysteries, set in Maine. The plots are not too complex, the characters are well-developed, and consistent over the two stories. These stories would be good choices to read on a long commute in a bus or train, or over a couple of lunch hours. On the downside, there are some very noticeable problems with the formatting. In particular, it switches back and forth between indented paragraphs and flush paragraphs. (Reading the EPUB format on both my ereader and my computer, with Calibre.) The stories were worth the effort, but would have been much better if I could keep my mind on the story and not the format. Anyway, as I said, good lite mysteries when you have some spare moments for quick reads.
  • Two Birds (A Short Mystery) on Dec. 23, 2013

    A very good, short murder mystery. The story is short and direct. The few characters are well developed. The ending is completely logical, and still a surprise.
  • The Weight of Gold on Dec. 24, 2013

    A good short story set in Alexandria under Roman rule. Heron, or Hero, was an actual historical figure -- a Greek mathematician and inventor. This story fits his reputation well. The story is subtle, and not entirely satisfying if you're looking for the good to be rewarded and the evil to be punished -- but it is probably a better representation of reality in Roman society. I enjoyed it.
  • The Forensic Geology Series, Box Set on Feb. 10, 2014

    Don't let the "geology" throw you -- you don't have to have an in-depth knowledge of science to enjoy these stories. The plots are good and believable, and they proceed through twists and turns to logical, convincing conclusions. I thought that Quicksilver, the first of the stories, was the weakest of the three, but it was still very good. I liked the second story, Badwater, the best. All three stories are currently available separately, but this anthology is definitely the way to go. (Full disclosure -- I actually do have a degree in geology. But I like mysteries, and these are very good!)
  • Murder by the Old Maine Stream on Feb. 18, 2014

    This is an excellent "cozy" mystery. The characters are believable, and there's good chemistry between Nora and Nick. I found some of the situations a little "over the top" but that's not unusual (or necessarily bad) for this genre. The mystery plays out well and logically, without being obvious. And it does have some funny moments. Recommended for fans of light, or cozy, mysteries.
  • The Mystery of the Dead Squirrels on Feb. 20, 2014

    A very good short story with an original premise. The characters and motivations are pretty logical and believable, with a couple of unexpected twists. A good read for a free afternoon.
  • The Eye of Mammut on March 16, 2014

    I really liked this story. I have some qualms about the culture that the author has depicted, but the story itself is consistent, and believable, within that culture. The mystery does move forward very quickly and without many misdirections -- I had it figured out from the start -- but that shouldn't be a surprise for a story as short as this.
  • Mercedes Drew the collection on July 07, 2014

    A collection of short, light mystery stories. Like most "cozy" mysteries, these have a "romance" aspect, but it's less feminine than the typical "cozy" mystery. Mercedes Drew is the female protagonist -- the male protagonist, Desmond Flowers, plays at least an equal part. Drew is a motorcycle messenger, driving her father's hand-me-down 1969 Triumph Bonneville (a classic bike, although the Norton Commando was my favorite British motorcycle of the time). Flowers is a detective with the local police. They meet in the first story and hit it off -- even though each is not so sure about the other. They do tend to get on each others' nerves throughout the book. There are 9 stories in this collection, and each story usually has two mysteries. The stories are imaginative and well told. The "mysteries" hang together well and are clearly resolved by the end (well, one left me not quite so sure, but that might have been me). The characters are believable and interesting. The stories frequently mention vans. Some of the bad guys drive vans, some good guys drive vans, sometimes there are just vans around to provide local color. As far as I remember, every single van was white! I've since checked this out, and it turns out that "white vans" really are popular with tradesmen, small businesses, etc. Learn something new every day! The stories do need some attention to formatting. One scene abruptly moves into another without a break -- putting a blank line in between two different scenes would make it easier to follow the action. Still, the stories were very good. I read them straight through and I recommend them.
  • Eating It Too on July 08, 2014

    A conventional story, but very well told.
  • Common Sense on July 08, 2014

    A good "alternate history" story, with well developed characters, good motivation, and a believable outcome.
  • Smile for the Camera on July 17, 2014

    This novel is a follow up to the Mercedes Drew short story collections. There are some differences, besides it being a novel. The biggest difference is what I perceived to be a "darker" tone to the story, involving the fate of an abducted girl. But the main characters are familiar and consistent, and there are still some situations that had me smiling. The novel stands alone, but I'd still suggest reading the short stories first. They provide a thorough introduction to the characters and work environments.
  • The Final Bet on July 23, 2014

    This is a good story, and a nice quick read if you have to spend some time in a waiting room, etc. Ghosts figure prominently in the story, and I wish some of the characters would be a little more skeptical of them, but it was a nice, quick story.
  • Dryad on July 28, 2014

    I'm glad I found this book, even though I don't usually read "Contemporary Fantasy" ... and I rarely read "long" books. The "Contemporary Fantasy" aspect was very well handled. The Fantasy world was well constructed with some familiar reference points, and the characters were believable and consistent. As far as the length goes -- I usually read short stories up to novels of about 65,000 words. Books that go much longer than that require a commitment in time that I'm reluctant to give, especially to an author I'm not familiar with. But this worked out very well. The writing was smooth and the plot was interesting. The story could probably have been tightened up a little -- it does meander a bit, especially in the beginning -- but the author manages to keep it interesting. The story is set in Australia. The forests settings were familiar and reminded me of the forests in my area, but references to Eucalyptus reinforces the location. This is the first book in a series, so there are some open-ended plotlines, but the main story reaches a pretty satisfying conclusion -- the book doesn't end with a cliffhanger. I recommend it!