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...