Blog Chain: Craft a Story

Ohhhh! Story blog chain time! Miss Awesomeness Michelle McLean came up with a fun activity to wrap up this year as we will usher in the next.

In 100 words or less, write a story using the words ride, post, soulless, local, dehydrator, girdle. Your story may take on any form you wish. The only two rules are 1. you can't simply list the 6 words; you must actually craft them into something creative, and 2. you must use ALL six of them.

Here's my story. 100 words. Make sure to read Sandra's post before mine and Kat's story afterward. Heck! Read everyone's stories as I add their links to the list!

Mine (below)
The gun laid inside the Sunday Post, wrapped like an Italian sausage. I told Cheryl that I needed a ride to the local Walmart. "Buying my nephew a dehydrator for Christmas," I had mumbled. I'll sneak out while she parks the car, heading for the reservoir with the damning evidence. 

If Cheryl knew what soulless deed I had committed, she'd steer us around and floor it to the sanitarium. Pain ran across my chest, breath hiccuping, as I imagined myself suffocating inside the tight girdle that the medical staff called a straitjacket. That's not something I want to experience again...

Blog Chain: Fill in the Blank . . .

Welcome back for another post along the blog chain. Kate has a say in the question, and since it's Thanksgiving/Nanowrimo, she's taking it easy on most of us writers who are engaged in the challenge (Good Luck!)  Kate has a fun one this round. A fill-in-the-blank...

Books are_________________________.

At least I thought this would be a simple one to do. But as I started thinking about it, I realized there are so many avenues to take with this question. So I will say:

Books are . . . Life.

Stories emulate life. Stories expand lives. These books make us cry, or laugh, or just entertain us. Would the quality of our lives be lessened without books? Yes. They teach us from the day we learn our alphabets into our old age where we pick up a scrapbook of memories and read about those times that brought us joy. Weddings and anniversary dates. A funny tag line about the vacation the family went on to the Grand Canyon.

Books keep us healthy in bodies and minds. Books pass the time when we must wait for that airplane or train to arrive for a business trip. Books can bring families closer together with bedtime stories read within the soft glow of night lights.

Books are life. There won't be a time within our entire lives where we won't read one, even just a high school textbook. Whether we are devout fans of reading, if it's just a passing fancy now and again, or we can't fit something like that into our lives on a daily basis, we will all be touched by books in our lives.

Even if we just sketch a picture of one.

Read Eric's post who came before me. Kat will post her answer tomorrow.

Blog Chain: Dear Character, Who Are You?

Another interesting blog question time! Abby has this go-around with the following:

Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

Eric answered this question yesterday. Normally, I post all the links (besides the person who spotlights the current blogchain) at the end of the page, but he brought up the same sentiments I share when I comes to character creation.

I can't sit down and list the character's life story before writing the plot. I don't do character sketches. I don't do character collages (if you want to find out more about those, you can visit the wonderful Stina Lindenblatt and her post about getting an idea of what a character might look like. Sometimes I don't even have the character's name set in my mind. But I'll have the basis of a plotline. As I write along, the characters appear, fitting into every nook and cranny of the story as if I was just walking along the street happening upon scenes that unfold before my eyes.

I don't see creating a work of fiction as sitting and developing anything: not the plot, not the characters, not the story arcs or the dialogue or the pivotal point of the entire story. I see myself as someone happening upon the story with a notepad---you can either think of it as a fly on the wall type or a journalist---who listens and observes and commits to memory what is happening before crafting my story.

So, to make it simple, the characters pop into my head and I type everything down as an eyewitness account before their facts get tainted by my personal opinion. I'm on a tag-along for a police ride like those kids who have dreams of becoming an officer and sit in the back seat, jumping up and down with excitement, wondering (or is it perhaps hoping) something spectacular happens like a bank robbery. With guns blazing and people running, I'm right in the middle of all the action yet protected by the police cruiser's mesh prisoner cage.

The story appears in my head along with the characters. It makes things very exciting not finding out things about them until it happens, as I lean back in my chair and say, "Whoa! Never expected that!"

As I mentioned in the beginning, Eric posted a wonderful answer to the same question yesterday. Expect Kat's answer tomorrow.

Blog Chain: A talk with an author (Alive or Dead)

It's my turn! It's my turn!

Here we are with another round of the chain a'swinging, and it's my chance to ask (and answer) a question. I was thinking of making this a two-fer question. That's how excited I am. But I'll hold off and just ask one. I don't want to use up all my barely good material. Okay, here's my blogchain question:

If you could dine with any author, and I do mean any whether alive or dead (yes, we're going into the realms of time travel - but hey, we have science fiction writers on this chain so we can always ask for them to write up the time machine specs), who would you want to dine with? And if you can ask them for advice on one writing element you feel you might be struggling at, what would it be?

I wasn't sure how to answer this one myself. There are a lot of authors-- strangely, most of them are dead-- who I would love to have the pleasure to have a nice meal and a chat. The first author who pops into the mind  is J.R.R. Tolkien. I would find it fascinating to ask about his techniques on how to create such detailed worlds and scenes. But I'm not sure I could hold my tongue concerning some of his parts that seem... well, a bit fluffy--not so much as poor descriptions, just a bit long-winded and airy. Rather not spoil the dinner and find my meal in my lap as he storms out the room.

Another author who comes to mind involves Stephen King. I would love to ask him about his action scenes and how he can write with so many characters yet keep the plot flowing to a logical conclusion without any gaping plot holes or loose story lines leading into oblivion. But I'd be a bit nervous. He's probably ask for a midnight dinner on a stormy night in a haunted mansion, and I would be jumping at every shadow being stuck in a room with a master of horror writing. If the lights went out, I would run out the room screaming (especially if the maid named Annie Wilkes walks into the room holding a sledgehammer and talking about her pig and how I should write a story just for her-- loved King's "Misery" book).

But the one author I would love to dine and converse with would be Edgar Allan Poe. I would love to talk his ear off... perhaps that's not the best metaphor about having a conversation with someone who has been dead for awhile but deal with the mental image I implanted for a bit. I would want to talk about his unique style, his way of creating such descriptive scenes and character interactions in such a condensed way of short story fiction writing. I believe his voice is incredible, and learning to create such awe-inspiring short fiction can only relate into improving longer stories and plots that capture a reader's mind in ways I can only dream about.

So, while I scrub down the shovel and remove the muck from boots after my little hike into the cemetery, (no, I didn't write this as a primer for Halloween - it just happened that way, HONEST!) I would like to find out who you would dine and chat with for a night. Make sure to visit fellow blog chainer Eric for his answer to this topic.

If you will excuse me, I have a few leftover, decayed body parts I have to clean up from the dinner table.

Blog Chain: Biggest Mistakes

My turn in the blog chain has arrived a little early. I switched turns for this round, coming in second. So I'm jumping in a quick response, but this is quite an interesting topic. Laura's up for this round (I believe I'm up first during the next *gulp*). Make sure you read up on her response. You won't be disappointed! Her question:

Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made and why?

This is a great question because I often think of my writing mistakes and on how I can improve from them to further my writing career. Besides learning to type by actually looking at the screen to reduce the number of typos (hey - at least I learned to type with ALL my fingers), I believe my best mistake was a technical one.

I accidentally deleted one of my manuscripts - the whole manuscript - twice.

Why would this be my best mistake? All that work, all those lost chapters, gone without having backed up the files?!?!?! The reason it was the best mistake I made was that I learned to first back up that manuscript in every way possible. But I also discovered two most important things:

I learned to improve on my writing

I allowed the plot to evolve in ways that made the manuscript better.

This second reason had to be the most wonderful outcome to my best mistake. With that one press of the delete button, I didn't stick with a set storyline as I recreated the manuscript. My characters changed. They grew in their personalities and interactions. Descriptive paragraphs allowed for the scenes to have more life: to hear and feel and almost taste the things going on. A singular plot developed arcs, branching out yet maintaining a purpose brought together into a solid story.

Instead of merely deleting a simple typo, I deleted a manuscript. And when I rewrote it, I found it was the best thing that ever happened.

Remember to go see Laura for her answer. Shaun will have his post up tomorrow.

Blog Chain: Remembered by...

It's another link in the blog chain, and my time is here. Shannon asked this week's topic, which is...

Imagine this: when you are gone, readers will remember your writing most for just one of these things: your characters, your plots, your settings, or your style. Which (only one!) would you prefer over the rest? Why?

I'm dead, yet I'm suppose to care??? Um... methinks I would rather be alive and just be glad my readers remember my name enough to pick up my book from the shelf - once I get that far with my writing. But if I were to croak.. ack... ack... I would like people to remember me enough to not burn my novels in joy.

Okay, seriously, if I'm dead I would like people to remember me by what I was like: my charm, my effervescent personality, how I interacted with people... er, I mean I would like people to remember my characters. How they possess charm to stay in the memory. How they have such personalities to make people laugh, or cry, or kill over crying with laughter. I want my characters' interactions to be so real that readers can relate to them in their own lives.

I would like readers to remember me by my characters, although a few flowers on my grave would be nice too.

You know the drill by now. Eric's post came before mine. Kat's post will come afterward. Read both.

flowers... I want flowers... red carnations... on my grave... or I'll haunt you!!!!

Blog Chain: Genre Talk

The wonderful Margie has this round's topic. She asked:

How did you come to write your YA genre (e.g. contemp, fantasy, etc?) And (yep, it's a 2 parter) if you weren't writing that, what genre would you be interested in exploring?

Oh, genre. How do I know thee? Let me count the ways...

I'm not a YA writer and never tried such, as several of my blog chainers have already stated also. I lean toward mystery/suspense. I'm too much of a Stephen King/Edgar Allan Poe buff to stray from writing in this particular genre. As Eric stated before me, I've dabbled in the paranormal: one mystery has a woman with psychic powers and a suspense has a cursed stone.

I've never put much thought in writing in a different genre until this question. I think maybe sci-fi would be interesting to explore, although writing the technical side of spaceships and whatnot scares me off too much to try. I could see myself dabbling in romance, so long as it still had some type of mystery and suspense elements. I don't believe I could write YA. I don't think I could write something that young adults would be able to relate too.

Ah, well...

Please visit Eric with his answer. Kat will post tomorrow.

Blog Chain: Challenge Yourself

Egads! You know I'm late when I have to head slap myself to remember just to take out the trash on Thursdays. So I am waaaayyy late for this Blog Chain. The awesome Eric starts this round's topic:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer?  What is your greatest reward from writing?

I think the most challenging part of being a writer involves getting other people to believe that writing can be a job, a career, a lifestyle that a person can enjoy without punching that daily time clock. Too many people believe that being a writer is a hobby - like coin collecting.

A person can be a writer and make it into a job without having to leave the house or work in an office.

A person can be a writer without having to always explain themselves that a person CAN make money from writing.

I guess the most challenging aspect of being a writer is the general attitude some people will show, the disdain when you tell them you are a writer. They may show the general tinges of interest in the beginning. Yet the moment they find out you don't have a book out or aren't part of a news corporation as a journalist, they scrunch their noses in the universal look of disregard as if saying, "What's the point with writing if you aren't published?"

Okay, I think I've ranted enough with the first part of Eric's question. Let's move on to the second part. What do I find the most rewarding part of being a writer?

I think the reward is seeing my writing on the screen. To read it and say to myself, "I did that. It's my words, my thoughts, my style and voice and opinion. I crafted that scene, that paragraph. I molded the characters the way I wanted them to be.

Truthfully, it's an ego trip. I guess dealing with the negative attitude of people who don't understand what it means to be a writer, I need that boost to my ego to let me know that it is all right to be a writer. This is the greatest reward I could ever imagine.

Go visit our chain starter Eric and read his answer and please visit the wonderful Kat for her answer.

Blog Chain: Where Am I?

Yikes! I've been away from posting here for some time. So you know when you see a new one here, it must be part of the blog chain series. This round's question comes from the wonderful Cole who asks:

Are you querying? Gearing up to go on submission? Writing? Revising? I'd love to hear what's new with you. And if you'd like to share a snippet of your WIP, even better!

Um, well, really I haven't done much in the querying or submission department. Much of life's happenstance has gotten my mind completely from the blogging community. From where I've left off, I have two finished fiction manuscripts ready for revision/crit/querying. Other than that, I've been busy with other things.

Yeah, I know this wasn't much of a blog post. I'll make it up to you with a snippet from my suspense manuscript, The Stone Man. It's possible I posted this snippet before, but I'm too busy to check. Hope you enjoy it.
When the car reached the gravel road, Graham pushed his foot down on the gas. His fingers gripped the steering wheel, mentally urging the car faster. Instead, the wheels turned slower. Pings and clanks sounded under the hood. All the warning signals in the instrument panel lit up, flashing many red angry eyes at him. He didn’t know whether the bumpy ground had done something to the car or the salesman had kept something hidden from him. Either way, the car slowed. Wisps of steam escaped from along the edges of the hood.

Graham kept it going while knowing those wheels still moved faster than his walking feet. Then a wall of steam poured through the hood, fogging up the windshield and blocking the sight of the road. A busted radiator. He knew it immediately. His hands steered the car off the road as it coasted to a stop. Then Graham pounded his fists against the steering wheel to release the pent-up anger before stepping out.

He hiked along the road. By the time Graham reached the junkyard, his nose sniffed at the breeze. Fresh shit. Cotter had a holding tank for the barn runoff from his dairy cows. The farmer would store it until the spring when a big truck with a pump would syphon out the mess in the hole. Then the farmer would fertilize his fields before he planted his corn.

Graham looked forward to the smell although he never planned on breaking his promise to the farmer about filching any more of his livestock. Yet Marty needed the energy, and Cotter’s cows had nowhere to run in their pens. If Graham could wake them up and herd them in a tight group, he could fill the stone even more than with the two deer he’d hunted. Graham placed his hands on top of the wooden fence.

Something cracked against the back of his head. His chin knocked into his chest. Graham’s hands reached up and held his throbbing scalp, a bump already rising along his hair. His eyes winced as he gazed into the field and saw something sparkle in the grass. Another star?

Glass. Long. Round. He sniffed his hands. Despite the manure smell from the storage tank, he caught a whiff of alcohol. Then something hard and sharp crunched into his back. Graham’s hand went down, clutching the sore spot. He saw a large rock sitting beside his feet.

A grumpy voice shouted, “Hey, now. What you doing all climbing over people’s fences?” A loud belch interrupted the slurred speech. “Go on, get outta here. Nothing but a worthless con man. Ain’t nobody want you here.”

Graham shifted around. He now noticed the drunk up against the junkyard fence. Obvious the man headed toward Sumter’s Pub although it didn’t look like he had enough change to buy anything. Dirty clothes hung over his body in four layers. All browned from the dirt and his own sweat. Forward and back, he swayed on his feet. The man held a large garbage bag over one shoulder. A thick piece of rope wrapped around his knuckles and tied the opening close. The drunk reached down to pick up several more rocks while stumbling. The weight of the garbage bag tipped him forward. He slammed face first into the ground.

Graham assumed this’d be the end of it. For almost three minutes the drunk sat there with his face flat on the ground and his rear end pointing toward the heavens. The garbage bag had busted open. Old newspapers, ripped clothing, and hundreds of bottle caps spilled across the road. A high groan escaped from beneath him. Then the drunk flopped to the side. Scraped skin covered his face along. A good amount of blood ran from the man’s nose bent with it in a crooked position. He gazed at his trash on the ground while wiping at the blood.

The man looked all right beside the busted nose. Graham turned toward the fence. One foot pushed on the bottom beam when the drunk started screaming.


At the mention of his name, Graham halted in his climb over the fence. He had no idea who the fool was yet the drunk obviously knew him from somewhere. After a sigh, he climbed down. His eyes gave a long stare, then he glanced up the road searching for any movement outside the bar. Loud music blared from inside. Old man Sumter must’ve gotten a local band in to entertain the folks tonight.

Graham strolled toward the drunk with his hands in pockets. “I didn’t hit on you. You fell and hit yourself.”


Graham growled, “You threw a bottle at me. I should’ve come over and pounded your sorry ass. I didn’t. And you got nothing in that bag I want. All your things are there on the ground. Leave me alone.”

“Judge will lock you up good, Baxter. Good hundred years in jail. I’ll live in your place. Make myself comfy there,” the drunk said.

He had Graham worried with the threat. Even if the lawmen didn’t believe the drunk, they might hold both of the men in a cell overnight. Best if Graham did his business in Cotter’s barn and leave. His chances would be better if the lawmen found him back at the fort rather than standing over the bleeding drunk. Besides, Marty was alone in the storage room with his health worsening.

Graham walked back toward the fence. His hands grabbed the beam when something rammed into him. The boards broke and they went sprawling into the field.

He groaned and rolled up to a sitting position, his body throbbing everywhere. His eyes watched the drunk man stagger up to feet. The man’s hand reached into the grass and lifted the bottle. Then he strode over, a little steadier now with his anger helping his cause. A bad situation. Normally, Graham would beat on the drunk without giving a second thought about it. Yet he was unsure whether he had the strength to lift his arm in protection.

The drunk stomped forward with the bottle raised over his head. He muttered, “You give me everything. Empty your pockets and give me all you have. Give me your cash. Watch. Everything. Or I call the sheriff. Call him right now.”

Graham’s eyes stared at the drunk’s serious face. He had nothing valuable on him. Only things he kept in his pockets were the car keys and the convention center keys. The last of Cotter’s money went toward Marty’s comic books. Graham reached into the pocket and listened to the rustling plastic. He pulled out the sandwich bag and debated it for only a second as the drunk man’s arm trembled, ready to split open his skull. He held up the bag.

The drunk frowned. “Why I want a rock for? Plenty of them on the road for me to use on your head.”

Graham shrugged. “This one is different. It’s a fallen star. Came right out of the sky.”

“You think I fell off the truck yesterday? You pull out something better than that or I bust this bottle apart and slit your throat. Then I go into those pockets anyway and take what I want. Your choice on whether you want to stay alive,” the man threatened.

Graham snorted. “Do I look like someone who carries rocks in my pockets for nothing? If you know my name then you know I don’t steal worthless things. This is valuable to the right person.”

“What you mean valuable?” The drunk’s arm lowered. He hesitated before darting fingers snatched up the bag. The man opened the top and peered inside at the stone.

“Museum people, for one, like those who study the sky for a living. They’re always looking for stuff like this. Pay people big money when the rocks come from there.” Graham pointed upward.

The drunk’s eyes moved along Graham’s arm and stared at the sky. He hiccuped and shook the bag, excitement showing on his features. Then he looked down suspiciously. He backed away several feet before upending the bag. The stone fall into his hand.

Graham kept his face lowered while he looked at his dusty shoes and listened to the man’s heavy breathing. His palms flipped upward. The evening deepened more yet he could see the paleness of his skin, the round circles and the streaks moving up along fingers and down past wrists. It looked like he held stars. Pale and cold. Twenty minutes passed by the time he glanced upward.

The drunk man now sat on the grass with his eyes fixed on the stone sitting in his palm. Blood dripped off the top of his lip and splattered on pants. His body trembled yet he was too drunk to notice what was going on or even pay attention to what he was feeling. Also, his body had thinned into a less solid form. Along the edges of the drunk’s clothes, Graham could see through him like one of Marty’s comic book heroes who had special x-ray vision.

“Let it go,” Graham whispered. His own body trembled, yet with fright. He knew what he’d done, always known with the flower and the deer. Yet this was too much. He’d gone too far. What Graham had just done was worse than a knife shoved into someone’s gut or a gun pointed at a person’s head. He’d beaten people before and stolen from them. Yet he’d never taken a man’s life deliberately, despite how many people in this town believed he did from his second conviction.

“LET IT GO,” Graham shouted. In the distance, Cotter’s dogs barked. The drunk man lifted his face, snorted, and tossed the bottle. Graham’s arm came up. Yet the bottle broke apart, sending glass across his body. He shook the pieces from his clothes and hair. Then he charged forward with his shoulder up and aimed at the drunk’s chest, wanting to knock the stone from the man’s grip.

Graham felt himself enter the drunk's ethereal body. Veins slithered across his skin. Muscles bunched at the contact he made. Moisture slimed his jacket from bile and blood and liquid he had no name for from organs he had no right in touching. Then his elbow neared the stone. Pain. Heat. Heaviness. Uncanny power.

Raw energy smacked into every part of Graham’s body and sent him airborne. He flew backward eight feet and then struck the ground, wisps of smoke rising from his jacket. His eyelids fluttered as he tried to stay awake. Yet his mind and body hurt. Graham’s eyes took in the sight of the deepening night, just staring at the stars and the blackness beyond them. When his senses returned, he flipped onto his side and shook off the dazed sensation. He looked over at the drunk man.

Gone. Yet Graham knew the man would be. Only thing left was the blood spatter across the grass blades. The black stone sat near the bag, vibrating.
Okay, I know that was more than a snippet. But hopefully it was entertaining to you, or at least passed a few moments of your time. Please visit the ever popular Eric for his post. And don't forget to drop by and see the talented Kat tomorrow for her answer.

Blog Chain: Art of Revising

Whoa! I almost totally missed this blog post chain. July has been a whirlwind for me. But I'm back and raring to go! The wonderful and talented Sarah asked this round's topic.

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?

According to the bylaws of my therapy group, Writer's Anonymous, I must admit that... sigh... I have ORS: Obsessive Revising Syndrome. Yes! I admit it! I'm a compulsive reviser. I handle revisions to the point where I'm revising more than actually writing.

But I swear that I'm getting better!

When the writing bug first struck, I would revise after just a few paragraphs. PARAGRAPHS! You can't imagine the amount of time it took to finish one page - let alone a chapter. When I finally noticed how slow I was going, I cut myself back slowly to every page and then to every chapter. I still do this on occasion, like a nail biter examining each finger looking for a sliver of an overhang to start gnawing on.

At this point in my life, I'm to where I revise after about every five to ten chapters. If I have an idea on how many chapters there will be then I sort of split up the story into three sections and revise. One day I hope to get to the point where I'll write a full manuscript straight through and then revise. Perhaps, one day, I'll even send a completely written manuscript to beta readers and crit partners without one smidgen of a revising note.


I have ORS - Obsessive Revising Syndrome. But I am getting better.

Visit the talented Christine who posted before me and the incredible Kat who will post tomorrow.

Something Fun for a Saturday

I found this fun and cool site from Eric at Working my Muse. It will analyze snippets of your writing and tell you which successful writer your style and voice is most like. I decided to try it out, first using this story.

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Out of curiosity, I decided to try another. This time I took it from my chapter entry for the Primal Blogfest post. The snippet is from the suspense manuscript, The Stone Man. This is what came up.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hmm. I never read his works before. Okay. I wasn't sure if I wanted confirmation that I wrote strictly by the styles of Stephen King, or whether other authors I read would appear - as is sometimes a writer's want to emulate those authors they read.

I decided to do one more. The first sample was just a simple offhand event that happened to me one day. The second piece was pure fiction in the writing style I concentrate on. So what would happen if I analyzed something completely different? I entered a children's short story I wrote a while back.

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Okay, I write like Stephen King and David Foster Wallace(I did it once more, with a Fractured Fairy Tale, and it came up as David Foster Wallace). Split even tie!

This was an entertaining exercise. Do please try it out for yourself.

Blog Chain: A Time and A Place Still Far Away

The awesome BJ has this round’s topic. Eric posted before me, and Christine will post afterward. The question at hand is:

Is there a place you like to write that's extra special? Have you carved out a writing niche? Is there a certain time of day (or night) when the words fall into place, and your brain is focused on nothing but writing?

I write everywhere and any time that affords a comfy seat and a quiet atmosphere with my I-pod blaring through the ear buds. It used to be here in my apartment. (Please excuse the fuzziness in the photo.)

Until I began having problems with my living arrangements when someone tried to break in back in May. When that endeavor failed, as in the person announced his attempted robbery plans loudly on his cell phone outside my open kitchen window beforehand, which allowed me to take the necessary precautions, I began having problems with the tenants living below my apartment (odd coincidence this started right after someone failed to break in . . . oh well).

Anyway, I contacted the landlord on June 4 who planned on moving me into a different place (currently being remodeled) so I wouldn’t have to break my lease or deal with anymore shenanigans. I was supposed to move in on July 1. Yet the landlord called June 29 to inform me it would take another month for the construction. So I’m not in my new place and haven’t any photos to share.

Such is life.

At the moment I’m visiting a friend, enjoying the relative peace and quiet. Perhaps when things settle down I’ll do another post about my new place and where I’ll carve out my special writing niche.
On brighter news, Sarah Bromley, fellow Blog Chain participant, has just accepted an offer of representation for her novel. Go give her major props! And Christine has graciously given a glimpse of her new book cover (novel release date is Oct. 15th 2010). Go check it out also!

Contest Alert - Twitter style

The good people at Querytracker is holding another Agent-judged contest. Here is the information:

Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management has graciously agreed to judge an adult fiction contest. (For completed manuscripts only.)

What to enter: A Twitter-style pitch (140 characters or less, including spaces)

Entries WILL NOT be capped. (Yay!)

Entry period will be 24 hours: From noon Tuesday, July 6 - noon Wednesday, July 7.

These are the genres Ms. Townsend will be judging:

Adult Science Fiction
Adult Fantasy
Adult Urban Fantasy
All subgenres of Adult Romance
Adult Thrillers

Normally, I'd be all over this contest since it features adult lit. Unfortunately, it doesn't feature adult mystery/suspense lit. Although I do have 2 thriller ideas stewing, they are just ideas - nothing completely formed or written. Since I don't plan on entering the contest, this doesn't mean I can't spread the word. If you are interested, visit the Querytracker blog for more details on how to enter.

Blog Chain: Inspiration

I apologize for my long absence from this blog. I’m going through problems with my living arrangements and it’s been hectic-surreal-outright stressful for me right now. I’m hoping things will settle down come next month and that I’ll be able to post more often.

All right then, let’s jump right into the next installment of the Blog Chain brought to us by the wonderful Shaun Hutchinson: published author extraordinaire and his debut released novel, The Deathday Letter. Go buy it now.

His question . . .

From where do you get your inspiration for stories? Give me the oddest, coolest, things that have inspired you.

There’s a certain time of day when I get most of my inspiration: early morning right when I awake from my deep sleep but I’m not fully into my morning rise-and-shine to crawl out of bed. I’ll lay there, sometimes with my eyes closed, sometimes with them open staring at that special soft white light before the sun rises, and allow my mind to drift.

At times I think about my childhood. At times I think about something funny I had read/seen/did yesterday. Or I might just make up odd random thoughts about the things I see in the room like, “What would happen if a person, while one day combing their hair, saw the vision of their deceased relative in the mirror's glass who revealed a dark secret of the pending future - one that started to come true?”

With my one finished manuscript, The Stone Man, the inspiration came from a moment in my childhood. My sister and I had gone outside, about 1am, and sat on lawn chairs in the middle of the backyard. On the news that evening we had heard about it being a special night where there could be seen many shooting stars across the black sky. We watched and watched for them until the cool night air and the mosquitoes forced us inside. The main basis of the story involves a shooting star able to grant the miracle of life, but at a price.

For some reason that long ago starry night popped into my cranium, and my mind drifted until establishing the basic plot line. Once I get a read-through finished, I’m hoping my crit partner Eric (if he is still interested in the job) will give me the advice I need to make it into a publishable piece of work.

And speaking of Eric, he has a great post up from yesterday concerning this topic. Stay tuned for Christine’s answer tomorrow!

My Writing and Reading Life

I haven't given much background when it comes to the above title, and someone might find this of slight interest. So I'll regale you with a bit of information concerning the genres I read and write about (at the moment since things are forever changing).

My Reading Life:

Here is my inset bookshelf. If you can make out the authors’ names through the fuzziness (sorry), you’ll see that the first shelf contains all my Stephen King novels. The second shelf holds a smattering of others: Terry Brooks, Octavia Butler, Edgar Allan Poe, Piers Anthony, and Isaac Asimov. Don’t be fooled by the few books on this shelf. I have more here.

This container holds all my fantasy novels: J.R.R. Tolkein, Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (no relation), Neil Gaiman, Harry Harrison and too many others to even name.

So the genres I read are: suspense, fantasy, and science fiction.

Um, sort of.

I was a huge fantasy buff while in my teens. Instead of using my school lunch money for. . . well . . . lunch, I spent it at the local Waldenbooks store inside the mall. The first novel I fell in love with was “The Sword of Shannara” by Terry Brooks. His stories influenced the buying bug in such a genre. Then, when my interests waned, I scavenged my parents’ bookshelves for something new. That’s when I came across Stephen King. By my guessimate, I have at least 20 of his novels, all his older stuff. I won’t say my interest in him waned. I simply came to a point in my life where I read fewer novels due to time constraints. As for the science fiction of Butler, Asimov and Harrison, someone gifted these. I’m glad they did. I have enjoyed reading, and rereading, them immensely.

This doesn’t explain Poe.

I was a Poe fan since the time I could read. I knew Poe back in grade school. My parents weren’t ones who forbade me from reading stories outside my age group. So long as the story got me out of their hair, then it was fine. The first story of Poe I got my hands on was the famous “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Did I have nightmares of it? Sure right, I did. For several sleepless nights, I laid in my bed imagining some manservant crawling through the window to bludgeon me before tucking my body into the floorboards.

Yet this never stopped the ten-year-old from sitting on her bedroom floor and reading that story all over again the next night. And I continued to read him into my adult life. My love for Poe will be everlasting.

Yet, with all this being said, I can read anything. The books I buy shouldn’t reflect what I enjoy now. Slap a memoir down in front of me - I’ll read it. Slap a history in front of me - I’ll read that too. The genres in my possession are simply ones that have been gifted to me, and I continued reading and buying the same authors to continue the trend. I could have shown you a bookshelf of romance if someone had given it to me. Or southern fiction. Or young adult. Or . . .

My Writing Life

This dead pulped tree pile are my finished manuscripts: 5, to be exact. 2 of them are fantasy. 1 of them is a mystery. The other 2 are suspense.

Only two of these stories are up to publishing standards (or close to being in my humble opinion): the mystery and one suspense story. The mystery I wrote back in 2008, and it took me a full six months to finish: 3 months to write and 3 months to edit - respectively. This story has received the most agent attention with requests. I pulled it from the submission’s process last year because I need to do a major rewrite: as in turning a 1st person POV into 3rd person. This will make the story flow smoother for the reader. I’m hoping that, when I finally resubmit, agents will send offers.

The suspense I haven’t done much with. I finished it (both writing and editing) in 3 months flat back in 2009. I sent out some feeler queries, just so I could perfect my letter. It needs a read-through and a critique. Once done, I’ll start bombarding the agents’ emails with this submission. My fingers are crossed on this one.

The urban fantasies I wrote on a whim to see if I had what it took to write a full-length novel. Those I started in 2000, and it took me up to 2006 to finish both. I don’t expect to ever get them published (although it would be nice).

The last manuscript, the other suspense, is trash that is only good as kindling to burn the photos of those disbelievers who don’t feel that I will ever become published. I wrote it in 2007, taking a full year. During this time, I was under the naive assumption most first writers starting the submission process have that every word they place down on the paper is gold. Going through the dismal battleground of rejection, I soon came to learn that not everything should be published. This story definitely falls into the “WTF was I thinking with this idea???” category.

There are several other projects I’m doing at the moment, none worthy of mention as of yet. Most of my life has been taken in with freelance writing. Paying the bills is paramount at the moment. When I get a breather, I’ll come back to these stories. Once this happens, I’ll share a bit more with you on what they are about.

As for now, this is just a small snippet of my reading and writing life.

Blog Chain: What Motivates Me...

This Blog Chain came swinging around quickly again. The lovely Amanda has a turn in asking this round’s topic.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated when you feel like you're not making any progress in your writing career?

I don’t know.

Truly, I don’t know what keeps me going. Like Eric who posted before me, there have been times when I hear about someone getting an agent/book deal where I felt like throwing myself on the floor, crawling into a fetal position, and sucking my thumb profusely (after hugely congratulating the successful author - of course).

I’m still trying to understand what motivates me. The thought of seeing the book in the store? The thrill of reading a stellar review? The chance to do book/blog tours and meet wonderful people who love reading my story? Glancing at the bookshelf and seeing my novel sitting among the likes of Stephen King, Poe, and Gaiman? Cashing the royalty check?

While those things would be great, none keeps me motivated when I hit that writing brick wall. None fills me with the passion to keep my fingers typing on the keyboard no matter how many rejections I receive.

I don’t have any support team to lean on. My family feels it’s just a “phase” I’m going through, like craving a certain type of food until getting sick of it and moving on. Friends see it as a quaint thing, like the exotic creature in the zoo they don’t quite understand but will believe whatever the kiosk says about the critter whenever it rambles off about crit groups and ARCs and query letters.

When I’m feeling good about myself, I write. When I’m feeling down about myself, I write more. Writing is second nature to me, like eating or breathing. My writing expresses who I am. It is my outlet. Whenever I feel like I’m not making any progress, I keep writing knowing that I can only improve upon myself. I suppose my motivation is my passion for this. It’s the only thing I need, I suppose.

Visit Eric’s post on what motivates him. Christine’s answer will appear tomorrow.

On the Blog Chain: Influenced? Me?

Again we are back with another installment of the Blog Chain. Give a big round of applause to Christine, our hostess with the most-tess, for this round as she posed the following question:

Which author or authors have most influenced your writing and how?

I was giddy with excitement until I found out I would be toward the bottom of the list with my answer and I started reading everybody’s posts. A sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach.

Everyone is mentioning my influences for the same reasons. Really, it was incredible. Almost all of them wrote about an author who I loved reading during my childhood and today . . . be it learning different writing techniques or simply inspiring the imagination, or just for the fun of reading these books. Here are those authors on my list of influences that my fellow Blog Chainers mentioned:

Christine: Shakespeare, Poe

Sarah: Neil Gaiman

B.J: Eddings

Kate: Mary Higgins Clark

Shaun: Terry Brooks

Abby: Tolkein

Shannon: John Steinbeck

Sandra: Mercedes Lackey

Eric: Piers Anthony, Stephen King

Although, a few of the Blog Chainers did post about authors I’ve never read before (but soon will) like these ones.

Margie: Norma Klein, Laurie Halse Anderson, Maeve Binchy

Laura: Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Somerset Maugham

Cole: Stephanie Meyer

Michelle M.: Suzanne Collins, Orson Scott Card

Amanda: Bernard Cornwell, J.K. Rowling, Patricia Briggs

And this is only a small sampling of the many authors everyone posted about (so go visit the links to see the others). I had a hard time thinking on whom to add, and for what reason they influenced me that hasn’t been mentioned. Then I delved far back into my memories of childhood. There is one who influenced me, not for the love of a genre, not for how they wrote a story, not for learning any type of techniques, but for the mere love of writing. They inspired me to sit down on my bedroom floor those many years ago and place ink on paper. They inspired me to research my heart out on those topics of which I knew very little. They gave me the courage and the tools to improve upon my writing and how to shape a story.

Funk & Wagnall’s New Encyclopedias

Yes, I’m crediting an influence to 29 encyclopedias that helped me from grade school into high school with every assignment paper I had to turn in. For if it wasn’t the ease of reading those entries, of developing a working knowledge of how to string paragraphs together into something not only educational, but entertaining, for my teachers to the point where every one of those educators suggested for me to take creative writing classes, I wouldn’t be where I am today. A writer.

Make sure you read Christine’s post who started the chain, and Eric’s post who came before mine. Heck, click on everyone who posted on this topic. I gave you the means. Get to reading! See you next time with a new question answered.

Author Day

This post will be all about those authors who have debut novels out, who are established authors, or who recently made a book deal. All have wonderful blogs you should visit and books you should buy. Please give support to our writing community.

In no particular order:
Kim Michele Richardson: “The Unbreakable Child”   Release date: October 1, 2010

'Sister Charlie died the week I turned seven.  Hate killed her, or so I’d heard. Whether it was hers or my own, I wasn’t quite sure.

For three days the nuns herded us into the Chapel to visit her body.  And for two hours on each of those days, I knelt before dead Sister Charlie and worried about Hell.  Hers and mine.'

Unbreakable Child Blog   Unbreakable Child website
Beth Revis: “Across the Universe” Three book deal   Release date - Spring 2011

'A reluctant teenage girl and her pioneer parents are cryogenically frozen for a 300-year trip to a new planet; she awakens 50 years early on a vast spaceship with a murderer on board.'

Author website
Shaun David Hutchinson: “The Deathday Letter.” Release date - June 15, 2010

'Ollie can’t be bothered to care about anything but food, girls, and games until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he’s going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.

Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn’t work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It’s now or never….'

Author website    Deathday website
Cole Gibsen: “Katana”  Two-book deal

'When the captain of the pom squad learns she is a reincarnated samurai, meets a boy claiming to be her soul mate from another life, and must chose between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.'

Author website
Kathryn Magendie: “Tender Graces”  In stores now

'The death of her troubled mother and memories of her abused grandmother lure a young woman back to the Appalachian hollow where she was born. Virginia Kate, the daughter of a beautiful mountain wild-child and a slick, Shakespeare-quoting salesman, relives her turbulent childhood and the pain of her mother’s betrayals. Haunted by ghosts and buried family secrets, Virginia struggles to reconcile three generations of her family’s lost innocence.'

Kathryn Magendie’s sequel: “Secret Graces”   In stores now

'In this second book about the journey of a woman dealing with the ghosts of a dysfunctional family, Virginia Kate Carey seeks the loving commitment that eluded her in Tender Graces.

"Vee" is idealistic and naive despite the witness she has served to the fractured heritage of her parents' and grandmother's dreams.  Vee continues her journey toward wisdom, building small bridges over the chasms of hurt and longing.  The inspiration of hope lingers in her.  Tender Graces, and now, Secret Graces, explores three women's lives:  Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, and passes through the fulcrum of Virginia Kate's emerging life as a lover and mother and storyteller, chronicling the heart ache and hope of her family and herself.'

Author website
Bethany Pinnell: "The Hunted"  Release date: 2011

'A seventeen-year-old shapeshifter is being hunted by supernatural creatures, and her only hope for survival is found in Navajo legend.'

Author website
Stephen Parrish: “The Tavernier Stones”  In stores now

'When the well-preserved body of 17th century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, and a 57 carat ruby rolls out of his fist, treasure hunters from around the globe race to find the Lost Tavernier Stones of popular European folklore.

According to legend, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was robbed of a priceless hoard while returning from his final voyage to the Orient in 1689. The hoard reputedly includes some of the world's most notorious missing jewels. Among them the 280 carat Great Mogul Diamond and the 242 carat Great Table Diamond, the largest diamonds ever unearthed whose whereabouts are unknown.

John Graf is an Amish-born cartographer who has never ventured out of Pennsylvania, let alone embarked on an international treasure hunt. David Freeman is a gemologist who has done his share of prospecting, but little of it within the boundaries of the law. Between them they have all the expertise necessary to solve the mystery. They also have enough differences to derail even the best of partnerships. And ahead are more obstacles: fortune seekers equally qualified and every bit as determined.

The race spans two continents. The finish line is in Idar-Oberstein, the gemstone capital of Germany. There, in chambers beneath an old church, where unspeakable events took place in centuries past, winners and losers alike find answers to age-old questions about the Lost Tavernier Stones.'

Author website    Stones website  *He's holding an "armchair treasure hunt" where if a person solves the puzzles, they can win an actual diamond - visit the book website for complete details*

Primal Scream Blogfest

I first heard of this idea from Mary Anne Gruen, who heard of this from Raquel Brynes who is hosting the blogfest. Today seems to be the last day to enter, so I came in unfashionably late.

Raquel is/was hosting a Primal Scream Blogfest.  She was(is?) looking for the most "heart pumping scene" in your WIP, and has 22 people signed up to share their stories. I liked the idea so much, I decided to swipe borrow it for my blog since I'm so late at attending the party. But do please follow the links and read those other excerpts from writers who were on the ball (unlike me) to officially sign up for the affair.

Here's my little piece, which isn't so little. A chapter from a completed manuscript that I had set aside for some time so I can look at it later with fresher eyes to do a final read-through before querying getting beta readers/crit partners (anyone interested in the job?) It was so hard to just pick one scene. Hopefully, I've picked the right one to get the blood pumping erratically through the ticker.

This was the fifth time Graham had filled the stone in the past hour. Too long ago he’d stopped feeling the tips of his toes and fingers. He also stopped looking at his body and the faded edges winking in and out in the light.

He felt tired now, always so tired. Dangerously tired as he barely scraped the stone from his palm and dropped it into Marty’s hands. Graham wanted some sleep and couldn’t remember the last time he had any. His body also had the cold shakes as he turned up the heater as high as it’d go. Graham was losing too much of himself for the blood to circulate and keep him warm.

The memory of the homeless man kept returning to his thoughts. He relived every moment of it when his body slid into the man. Graham wondered whether the man had any family or if anyone’d miss him. Yet he didn’t have the slightest clue on how to contact them. He didn’t even find out the drunk’s name. It was like the man never existed. Living the life he led, many people already saw the man like this long ago. One moment there and the next moment gone, and no one thought either way about it.

Graham watched the bloodhound nap in the chair. Twice he thought of draining the dog and twice he shuddered about it. He couldn’t do it. Graham accepted the full responsibility in feeding his life into the stone.

Yet for how long?

He pushed off the side of the bed and moved toward the lobby headed for the break room. His stomach was far from wanting any food. Yet he needed to keep up his strength for his boy and the stone and the life he willingly gave up to it. Graham’s feet bounced across the floor; now used to the weightless feeling. He made it to the stove and heated up some soup. Then he hurried back to the storage room and laid the pot right on his legs, knowing he should scream in pain at the heat. Yet he barely felt it against his pants.

Graham had a few spoonfuls in his mouth when he felt the hand on his shoulder. He looked over and smiled. “How you doing, boy?”

“Don’t feel good, Pa. Don’t feel good at all. Like the time when I fell off the deck and all those people came.”

Graham remembered the moment. It was the first time Marty went to the hospital. His boy had scurried himself along the side of the rail, standing on the edge on the opposite side as he shimmied his butt around each rail post. He had held on, chattering away about his baseball team when suddenly his words faded into nonsense. Polly and Graham had looked over and watched their boy’s eyes roll up into his head and his arms slide off the rail. Marty had fallen to the ground without a sound.

Graham didn’t know who was more scared about it on that day: him or Polly. Yet they knew something more was going on in Marty’s body than what their family doctor kept writing off in the medical records as simple viruses. It was the time Marty had started his visits to the hospital, and had his visits with the specialists.

“Want you to eat something, boy. Can you get up for me a bit?” Graham shifted off the bedroll and folded it into a tight bundle. His hands wedged it behind the pillow, propping up Marty’s body. He rested the pot on the covers and used both hands in lifting the spoon. The left hand steered it toward his son’s mouth while his right kept the other hand from shaking too much. His boy took his time between each swallow, only having ten spoonfuls before refusing the rest. He wished Marty would eat more, yet he didn’t push the issue any more than he pushed himself into eating more tonight.

Miter had lifted his head the moment he smelled the soup in the room. Graham rested the pot on the floor as the dog jumped over the armrest and padded over. He listened to the bloodhound’s lapping tongue as he leaned against the bedframe. His eyes stared at the unmoving stone people, wishing one of them could tell him an answer. Then he felt a tug on his hair.

“Pa, can we talk?”

“Sure, Marty.” Graham turned to the side. His finger pointed toward the space heater. “Too hot for you?”

His boy shook his head. Marty plucked at a loose string on the blanket, tugging, as it unraveled bit by bit. “Why were you crying?”

Graham’s lips flapped, looking for a way past the embarrassment. He frowned. “When you see me do such a thing?”

“Some time ago. My eyes opened and I saw your head on the bed. Must’ve been doing it for a while ‘cause there was a wet spot on the blankets.”

“Drool.” Graham replied quickly and wiped at his mouth, reinforcing the issue. “Took a nap. Tired when I came back to the fort. I went outside . . .” He stopped. His body flinched at the thought of where he’d gone and what he’d done.

“Pa, why’s the stone like this?” Marty pinched it up in fingers and tilted his head, gazing at the lightening red color. “How come it can make me feel better?”

“I don’t know why it can do what it does. Maybe all stars can do it,” Graham said. He had the feeling his boy had asked the question in a different way. Yet he pretended otherwise with his answer.

Marty was having none of it. He gave a fast huff many kids do when believing the parents were deliberately acting dumb because they considered the topic an adult affair. “Seen you hold the stone, Pa. Saw it change color and you got all woozy and fell to the floor. Then I held it and got better. It’s like Snatcher Man.”

“Who?” Graham scratched his head.

“He’s a bad guy in my comic book.” Marty leaned over the side of the bed and pulled out the box holding his books. He leafed through the plastic sleeves and showed off the comic book. It had the picture of a shadowy figure with glowing hands sneaking up on the innocent people. The hero stood on the ledge waiting to swing down and stop him.

Marty’s fingers tapped the cover. “He steals people’s souls for fuel to his machine. It can open a hole into another dimension so his demon army can come through and take over the world. Isn’t that what the stone does? It takes parts of people’s souls?”

Graham had no answers this time because he never thought of it in just this way before. He shook his head and saw Marty’s features scrunch, ready for an argument.

“Why you look all faded then?” He took a hold of his father’s hand and held it out in front of the heater.

Graham had turned off the overhead light because the heater threw off enough of an orange glow for them to see around the storage room. Also, the convention center owners would freak out at the high electric bill when knowing no one was supposed to stay on the premises long-term during the off season. Within the heater’s light, he could see a fuzziness around the edges of fingers. It also surrounded his boy’s fingers where he gripped Graham’s wrist, as if Marty’s hand had passed through the first few layers of skin and finally griped something solid.

“It’s just . . . something I need to do.” Graham tugged from the hold. Yet once Marty had his father’s mind seeing this, Graham’s eyes kept staring down at his body. He rubbed at his pants and rustled his shirt, acting like this would somehow make more of him reappear. Maybe he could snap his body back into reality instead of slowly vanishing into someplace else where he’d never find a way out.

“The more someone has it the more it changes color, right?” Marty took a bit of the pulled thread and wrapped it around the stone, watching the string slide up and away without holding on. “And the weaker they get, like Snatcher man when he gets a hold of someone. His hands go shooting out little lightning bolts while the person falls to the ground and you can see their bones as they crumble into dust and disappear. The star goes gray to red to black. But I’ve never seen it change to black when you hold it. How’d it get all the energy?”

Graham shrugged. He felt fine about telling his boy this part. “Deer. I went hunting and bagged two deer. This was before I came for you at the hospital.”

“How’d it get black the second time? You go hunting again?”

Kind of.

Graham’s stomach rolled at the thought. He bent over and threw up in the empty pot, then shooed Miter away when the bloodhound came over thinking his master had made him some more dinner. Graham staggered across the room using the statues for support. When at the exit, he tossed the pot out and slammed the door, locking it up for the night. He returned to the bed and saw the gray stone sitting in the plastic bag beside Marty. He reached over for it. Marty snatched it away.

Graham’s eyebrows lifted. “Boy, what’s bouncing through your head?”

“How’d it get black again, Pa?” Marty clutched the bag against his chest. He leveled his father with a defiant gaze. “No fibbing. You didn’t go hunting again. You’re too shaky to aim.”

“You go disobeying your old man, Marty? You hand it over right now.” Graham’s face glowered. He stretched out his hand for it.

With his lips up in a snarl and his nostrils flaring, Marty matched the expression. He opened the bag and placed fingers inside.

Graham sucked in a fast hissing breath. He held up his hands like his boy handled the world’s biggest bomb and he didn’t want God blaming him for clipping the wrong wire. “Don’t do it! Don’t touch it right now! It’s one-way, Marty. You emptied the stone out already. If you go touching it now, the stone will take your energy away and give it to someone else. It won’t give it back.”

Marty’s fingertips hovered near the stone as his eyes grew wide. He stood stock still, yet the glint in his eye said he had his mind set in touching the stone if his father should grab for it. “Where’d you go?”

Graham’s tongue licked dry lips. “Cotter’s farm. Went there to swipe some energy from his cows.”

“You wouldn’t cry over some dumb cows.” Marty shook the bag in warning.

Graham’s mouth dropped open. He never thought his boy would show this much audacity to disobey or even blackmail his old man with the fallen star.

Graham gulped down the shock and ran fingers through his hair. “Went there. Honest. But some drunk threw a beer bottle. We tussled and he got the better of me. He wanted what I had in my pockets and took the stone. Then he was gone.” Graham closed his eyes.

“Didn’t you tell him about it? About what it’d do if he took it?” Marty’s face turned downcast, and frightened. His boy looked frightened about what his father had said. “Pa, you do it to anyone else? You’re not turning into Snatcher Man, are you?”

Graham pounded fists against his legs. “Never wanted it to happen, boy. Feel horrible about it. Ain’t my right in taking a man’s life like that. But . . . I was desperate too. You needed the energy. I knew if I didn’t get back soon, you wouldn’t be waking up anymore.”

Marty said nothing. With his mind deep in thought, he gazed at the thread in his lap. Any normal kid would’ve cried at the idea he could die. Cried. Screamed. Graham’s boy took it in stride. Three years of doctors and hospitals and beeping machines had him accepting the idea for a long time now.

More than anything else in Graham’s life, this fact disturbed him. Marty accepted it. Polly had accepted it. He couldn’t.

“It ain’t working anymore,” Marty whispered in a tense voice. Suddenly it seemed like they stood near a campfire telling each other ghost stories only to discover the tales were real. “Not like the first time. Not like when I first had it.”

“It just takes a little more energy.” Graham pulled the plastic bag away. He stared at the stone, tilting the bag from right to left, watching it slide into the corners. “A little more than I thought before. Then the stone will heal you. I can take you home. We won’t deal with anymore hospitals or monitors or doctors prodding you with instruments.”

Marty closed eyes and took a deep breath. “But it’s not working. I’m like Snatcher Man’s machine. I keep taking more of people’s souls, yet when he pushes the button it never fully runs. It always turns off before the hole opens. And you’re vanishing, like those people he drains. Soon you’ll be dust. Or you’ll start taking other people’s souls, good people who never did anything wrong. But I’ll still be broken.”

Graham’s eyelids blinked. His hand brushed at wet eyelashes. He never heard anyone say it so simply. His boy was smart. He was smarter than his old man and not so blinded by his own wishes in making things better. “I’m sorry, son. I didn’t want you to be broken. I wish I knew how to fix you for good.”

“I’ve gotta go back to the hospital now.” Marty’s body shook. His breaths turned more labored. A light sweat appeared on his splotchy skin. “They can keep me going without the stone.”

“Butchers won’t do anything. They’ve given up.” The words slipped out before Graham could consider them.

Marty shifted his head. He stayed calm. “You can show them the stone. They have to believe it’s magic now. It’s magic and it helped me for all this time.”

Won’t they believe? Graham nibbled his bottom lip. He’d kept his boy away for two days off their monitors. No modern science could’ve done such a thing. At least they would have to consider the possibility, especially with his conscious son telling them about it in his own words. Hell, they could just look at Graham’s see-through body and know something strange was up.

Or even more. He could go back to Cotter’s farm and get his hands on those cows. Graham could fill the stone with energy and sneak his boy back inside. Then he’d show the doctors firsthand at what the stone could do. Their own eyes would make them believe.

Graham nodded. “All right. I’ll take you back. Won’t know what the law will do to me for taking you away, but I’ll accept it if I know they’ll treat you right.” He grimaced, remembering the car still sat in the ditch on the back road near Sumter’s junkyard. “Go to Tony’s place first. The radiator is busted on the car. He can drive us there. I’ll tell him the truth during the ride. He, sure as hell, will be pissed over it. Probably more so that I didn’t just ask him for help at the very start.”

Graham stopped talking when Miter’s howl filled the room. Outside, a engine rumbled as a car pulled up beside the building. He knew it could’ve only been two people outside: Tony who drove by to check on him and make sure everything was all right, or another officer stopping by to give Graham an update on the search for his missing son.

The door knob jiggled. He had the scared feeling of being busted for all his misdeeds, like whenever the police had caught him during his thieving days.

Marty spoke, “Pa?”

Graham used the sight of his sick boy as his incentive. He pushed past the convict fear and pushed away his pride of wanting things done his way without considering the world around him and all the hardships he created. Graham reached down and ruffled Marty’s hair. Then he commanded Miter to lie down by the bed and stay put. After shoving the sandwich bag into his back pocket, he emptied lungs with the long sigh. From around his neck, Graham pulled the string with the click of keys jiggling. He ignored the fact that they sounded like a guard’s keys for a cell door.

“Keep my courage for this. I’ll tell the whole story.” Once Graham found the right key for the lock, he neared the door.

A boom echoed from the other side. Graham watched the doorknob fly backward at the force, the wood around it splintering apart, sending pieces outward as they tapped into the stone statues nearby and against his clothes. Pain erupted in his left side, stinging and hot. His nerves thrummed throughout his body, going numb as he staggered back and smacked his butt against the floor. He gazed down at the forming stain. Red. Blood soaked through the shirt along the singed area with his skin torn open and raw.

It took a moment more for Graham’s thoughts to register the fact that someone had shot him.

For Instance

In my last post, I had mentioned the topic of “instances,” those occurrences that happen in our lives that may be funny, strange, unusual, sad, or just something that had an impact on your life. I wanted to do a post talking about them today.

Do you add personal instances into your stories?

I thought long and hard about this question. I’ve come very close in doing so, bordering on the ebb and flow of memories that wash against me as it mists my face with enticement to slip something in here or there within the paragraphs.

No one will ever know . . .

They won’t think it really happened . . .

Readers will just assume it’s fiction . . .

Perhaps they will. Perhaps it would make good fiction, those intense feelings and emotions I express through my typing fingers to bring the story new life as I push against the borders of what makes a mediocre writer into a great one.

Yet, I’ve never added any type of event from my personal life into my fiction writing. I’m not sure why.

Is it because I never really thought of doing it before? Do I thrill on creating something new, something unheard of, something outside of what I deem as the humdrum life that I endure?

Or perhaps although the reader won’t know it is a real event, I will know in my own mind that it occurred? Does it make me uncomfortable to share personal instances in such a flippant way with fictional characters, teasing and prodding and perhaps tainting them to suit the needs of the story, changing in ways that forever stay within my mind as sadness fills me at the irrevocable loss of those true memories?

Also, what of those people who know my life as they will read the story and see those instances lurking? I suppose that it might feel good for them at times, like a hidden joke a person understands the meaning of two hours later as they let out a guffaw. But what of those instances that might be more of the uncomfortable nature? Will those people shed a tear at the grief unexpectedly visited on them, or will it feel like a slap in the surprised face if the instance might speak of them in a not-so-nice light?

What of them? Should they matter? Will it matter? Are the feelings of others something to be considered?

Then again, perhaps adding a personal instance will make a writer understand their life a little better. Writing it out, placing the character in this situation to make those forthcoming mistakes and choices, might perhaps clarify and uncover exciting new possibilities never considered because the writer can now take a step back to view things at an objective standpoint.

Who knows?

Do you? Have you ever added a personal instance into your fiction writing? How did it turn out? Did it complicate matters? Did it clarify them? Did it just add a bit of spiciness to the story?

Or do you prefer to keep fiction as fiction and reality as reality?

For some strange reason, it felt appropriate to post a photo of myself not wearing a drop of makeup. Perhaps I simply needed to place a bit of the real me into a post talking about fiction writing...

Awards and Instances

I have been given several blog awards of late. I want to pass them out to some people who I find are wonderful and I enjoy reading/visiting their sites. So let’s begin:

Mary Anne Gruen from Starlight Blog gave me this award quite a bit of time ago. I do apologize for not doing anything with it until now, but I was in the process of moving then and it slipped my mind. I am grateful she picked me for this award, and seek to rectify my forgetfulness by passing it out now.

This award is for all those writers, old and new and in-between. I will give it to Bethany from Shooting Stars, whose blog is an inspiration to writers wanting to do more with their skills.

And speaking of Bethany, she gave me this “BFF” award. Thank you! I believe I will pass this one onto Mary because she has such nice things to say about my writing. I blush about it every time.

This last award was also given to me by Mary. It is so me, sometimes! I’ve had people comment on just how much I write, never stopping, never running out of things to say. I’m passing this award to Eric from Working My Muse. He’s a fellow who has just started walking along his writing path. I’m hoping that this award while give him the inspiration to never place the ink pen down or stop those fingers from typing on the keyboard.

All right. For my next blog posting, I will be talking about “instances” you place within your writing. I want to delve into whether you have ever used a certain event in your personal life (sad, happy, or strange) in a scene of your story, and how did it turn out for you. Think it over, and we will talk about it more next time.